Educational accreditation is a quality assurance process under which an educational institution is evaluated by an authorised external body to grant “accredited status” on compliance with set of service and operational standards. Accreditation is for improvement of academic quality and public accountability and hence mandatory for any higher educational institution that needs to prove that they meet a general standard of quality.
Universities are granted the right to issue ‘degrees’. Thereby they have to maintain a level, acceptable by university regulatory bodies that issues the degree-granting rights. The regulators, time to time critically appraise to verify that the Colleges, Universities, Programs continue to meet and/or exceed the Norms and Standards prescribed by them.
Accreditation at college and university level is known as Institutional Accreditation. Accrediting bodies may also accredit specific program, which is known as Programmatic Accreditation. University accreditation and quality assurance measures vary from country to country.
The accreditation process ensures compliance with the norms set by the accrediting agency in below areas-
- Course/program outcomes
- Teaching-learning mechanisms
- Faculty qualification and research
- Organisational structure of the management
- Financial well-being etc.
The University Grants Commission Act (1956) explains that any institution which has not been created by an enactment of Parliament or a State Legislature or has not been granted the status of a Deemed-to-be-University, is not entitled to award a “degree”.
Let us discuss accreditation bodies for higher education:
(A) National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)
NAAC was setup as an organisation in 1994 to assess and accredits Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India as UGC autonomous body, funded by UGC.
It was expected that the creation of an autonomous national agency with sufficient expertise and credibility, would not only control the quality of higher education, but also motivate educational institutions to strive for excellence.
University Grants Commission (UGC) of India initiated measures for setting up a quality assurance agency under Section 12 of the UGC Act of 1956 specifically for “the determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examinations and research in universities”.
It is a mandate that only NAAC-accredited universities in India are eligible to get any financial support from University Grants Commission (UGC), National Higher Education Campaign or any other institutions. All educational institutions coming under UGC must obtain accreditation once in three years. The Committee on Accreditation and Assessment Council recommended the closure of non-accredited institutions.
NAAC assessment procedures has Seven Assessment-Criteria as listed below, have different weightages to serve for three major types of Institutions – University, Autonomous College & Affiliated/Constituent College
a) Curricular Aspects.
b) Teaching-Learning and Evaluation.
c) Research, Consultancy and Extension.
d) Infrastructure and Learning Resources.
e) Student Support and Progression.
f) Governance, Leadership and Management.
g) Innovations and Best Practices.
Not all institutes that excel in NAAC scores will be offered autonomy. Below listed category of institution is not assessed by NAAC:
a) Distance education units of HEIs
b) Offshore campuses
The two primary eligibility criteria for institutions to apply for NAAC Accreditation are:
- The age of the Institution must be 6 years or above.
- The Institution must have at least two batches of graduated students
All the institutions intending to apply for Assessment and Accreditation by NAAC need to mandatorily upload the information on All India Survey on Higher Education portal (http://aishe.nic.in)
(B) National Board of Accreditation (NBA)
NBA was established by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 1994 under Section 10 (u) of AICTE Act and since 2010, it is operated as an autonomous body. In April 2013, the Memorandum of Association and Rules of NBA were amended to make it completely independent of AICTE, administratively as well as financially.
NBA accredits course (program) and not the institutes. These include diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate programs in fields like: engineering & technology, management, pharmacy, architecture, applied arts and crafts, computer applications, hospitality and tourism management. The term ‘program’ and ‘course’ are used interchangeably meaning the same; though the correct terminology is ‘program’.
NBA does not receive any grant either from the government or from any regulatory body of technical and higher education. It functions as independent body in decision making as well as financially.
NBA’s Criteria of Accreditation
a) Institutional Mission, Vision and Programme Educational Objectives
b) Programme Outcome
c) Programme Curriculum
d) Students’ Performance
e) Faculty Contributions
f) Facilities and Technical Support
g) Academic Support Units and Teaching-Learning Process
h) Governance, Institutional Support and Financial Resources
(C) The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
The National Institutional Ranking Framework is a methodology adopted by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, to rank institutions of higher education in India. The Framework was approved by the MHRD and launched by Minister of Human Resource Development on 29 September 2015. The first rankings were released in 2016.
The parameters for ranking broadly cover
a) Teaching, Learning and Resources (Weightage: 30%)
b) Research and Professional Practices (Weightage: 30%)
c) Graduation Outcomes (Weightage: 20%)
d) Outreach and Inclusivity (Weightage: 10%)
e) Perception (Weightage: 10%)
The formula based calculation is done on the data collected for related parameters & its sub-parameters.
Eligibility for Common and Discipline Specific Rankings
a) They have a total of at least 1000 enrolled students (calculated on the basis of approved intake)
b) The institution is a centrally funded institution/university of the Government of India.
Institutions will also be given a discipline specific rank as relevant.
(D) Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
ABET was founded on 10 May 1932. Its Headquarters location is Baltimore, Maryland, United States.
ABET is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with ISO 9001:2015 certification that accredits post-secondary education programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.
ABET offers standards & quality process that inspires confidence to build a better world- which is safer, more efficient, more comfortable and more sustainable.
With ABET accreditation, students, employers and the society can be confident that a program meets the quality standards that produce graduates prepared to enter a global workforce.
ABET claims that educational standard set by them is now more than 80 years old and continues to play this fundamental role and have become the basis of quality for STEM disciplines all over the world. ABET accreditation assures programs meet standards to produce graduates ready to enter technical fields that are leading the way in innovation and emerging technologies.