Govt Working To Combine Accreditation, Ranking Bodies

A committee has been set up to find ways for merging NAAC and NBA to set up a single ranking and accreditation system, which is one of the primary features of NEP 2020

The Union Government is now willing to merge the accreditation (NAAC) and ranking (NBA) bodies, after making a strong pitch for the merger of national-level medical and engineering entrances with the Common University Entrance Test (CUET-UG).

"In order to fortify the qualitative attributes of HEIs, we have NAAC, NBA and NIRF; the first two engaged in accreditation while the latter is engaged in ranking. It is an incontrovertible fact that almost similar criteria are assessed by these three Government agencies and this works at cross purposes," says Prof (Dr) Naresh Grover, Pro Vice Chancellor, Manav Rachna International Institute of Research & Studies.

He adds, "Financial cost of an assessment is quite prohibitive to an HEI but they have to grin and bear it. If individual exercises of these three agencies are integrated into one unified endeavour, the much avowed objective of quality assessment shall be realised far more efficaciously."

While the NAAC or National Assessment and Accreditation Council is the only government agency approved to accredit colleges and universities, the NBA or National Board of Accreditation is charged with accrediting only technical education institutions. The last-mentioned is also in charge of bringing out the annual ranking of higher education institutions, also called as the NIRF, every year.

The process of creating a single ranking system and accreditation, one of the proposals of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), has begun with the Ministry of Education (MoE) forming a committee for the same under Chairman of Executive Committee, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bhushan Patwardhan.

This is an essential move as it comes against the backdrop of the latest announcement by Jagadesh M Kumar, Chairman, UGC about merging the JEE Main and NEET with CUET-UG. The government is also functioning on merging UGC and AICTE into a single overarching higher education regulator known as the HECI or Higher Education Commission of India.

The committee headed by Patwardhan, who was the Former Vice-chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), includes Indranil Manna, Vice-chancellor, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra in Ranchi; K N Ganesh, Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati; Dr Surender Prasad, Former Director, IIT Delhi; B J Rao, Vice-chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad and Dr Manju Singh, Joint Secretary, UGC. Singh will be coordinating the committee. 

The six-membered committee will examine the accreditation methodology of NBA, NAAC and the ranking system of the NIRF. It will advise a proper mechanism to ensure communication between the bodies, besides creating a framework to align the three to set up the proposed NAC.

The National Education Policy 2020 states that accreditation of institutions will depend mainly on basic norms, public self-disclosure, good governance & outcomes and it will be taken forward by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions overseen and supervised by NAC. 

The task to work as a recognised accreditor shall be assigned to an appropriate number of institutions by NAC. In the short run, a strong system of graded accreditation shall be well established, that will specify phased benchmarks for all HEIs to attain set levels of self-governance, quality and autonomy, the NEP 2020 further adds.

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