Saturday, February 15, 2014

Soon, college courses to be graded

Soon students will be able to make more informed choices on the courses they wish to pursue. A system to accredit individual programmes offered by colleges and universities is being put in place by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD).

Under the Rashtriya Ucchatar Shikshan Abhiyan (RUSA), a national higher education mission, undertaken to provide funding, all institutes and universities must acquire ratings not only for themselves but also all their programmes. This means individual courses across colleges and universities in the country will be graded. For instance, Jai Hind College will not only need an accreditation for the college, but will also have to get its courses such as BCom, BA or BSc or even self-financed courses like BCom in banking and insurance or BMS graded. Besides students, the move will help potential employers in selecting the best pass-outs from every college.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has been grading colleges and universities across the country since its inception in 1994. But hampered by a staff crunch and facing the ever-changing education scenario, the quality assurance body feels it is not up to the mammoth task of accrediting individual courses along with institutes/universities.

NAAC Director A N Rai and Deputy Adviser Jagannath Patil have suggested a multi-layered framework to bring about quality assurance in institutes of higher education. "A fragmented approach has been taken at the central and state levels. There needs to be a coordinated approach for such a massive project," said Patil, also the President of the Asia Pacific Quality Network.

They recommend that NAAC acts as a nodal agency to accredit universities across the country. "State accrediting agencies can then accredit colleges. Individual programmes can be accredited by subject councils/associations such as sociological society, Indian Commerce Association, etc. NAAC can mentor these quality assurance bodies," said Patil. "These subject councils have experts from industry and academics and, therefore, can evaluate programmes with some training from NAAC." T A Shiware, from the Indian Commerce Association, said the agency is in talks with them. Being a national body, it can handle the task, he felt.

A MHRD official said the ministry has written to some of the councils (like National Council for Teacher Education) asking them to take up evaluation of individual courses (in this case, B Ed and M Ed). The possibility of bringing in third party agencies for the rating has not been dismissed.

Among the states, Kerala has set up the State Higher Education Council, which can function as a state accreditation body. A council to monitor higher education in the state is mandatory under RUSA. Maharashtra is yet to take any concrete measures to set up the higher education council.

Source: The Times of India, February 15, 2014

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