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NAAC introduces 2-stage accreditation system

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has implemented a 2-stage accreditation system with a binary accreditation for the first stage for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India. (Image: Canva)

Mon. 29 January 2024

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In a significant move, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) announced on Saturday a paradigm shift in its accreditation process for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India. The Executive Committee of the NAAC convened to unveil major reforms, discarding the existing system of grading HEIs during accreditation in favor of a “binary accreditation system.” This move aligns with global best practices and is set to be implemented within the next four months.

The NAAC, an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC), clarified that under the new system, institutions will be categorized as "either accredited or not accredited," replacing the current grading system ranging from C to A++. The primary objective behind this shift is to encourage all institutions to actively participate in the accreditation process, fostering a culture of quality in higher education.

A press release from the NAAC emphasized that no new applications will be accepted under the current methodology after four months. Institutions that have already applied or plan to apply within this timeframe will have the option to follow either the existing process or the new binary accreditation methodology.

The second phase of the reforms, labeled "Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation," is slated for implementation by December 2024. This phase introduces a five-level system (Level 1 to 5), allowing accredited institutions to ascend from 'Level 1' to 'Level 4' as "Institutions of National Excellence" and ultimately reach 'Level 5' as "Institutions of Global Excellence for Multi-Disciplinary Research and Education." The NAAC envisions that this tiered accreditation will empower Indian institutions to enhance their quality and attain global recognition.

A notable aspect of the reforms is the special attention given to rural and remote institutions through mentoring and handholding. The NAAC disclosed plans for a "One Nation One Data Platform" aimed at ensuring integrity and transparency in handling institutional data. This platform is designed to collect a comprehensive set of data from HEIs for various purposes such as approval, accreditation, and ranking. The system, emphasizing trust and data-driven processes, minimizes physical visits for verification while imposing heavy penalties for inaccurate submissions.

The reforms, based on recommendations from a committee led by former ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, were presented to Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan on January 16. The committee's transformative proposals focus on strengthening the assessment, accreditation, and ranking of HEIs, with an emphasis on mentoring and incentivizing schemes to elevate participation and accreditation levels.

In its statement, the NAAC highlighted the commitment to a system based on trust, data-driven processes, and customized ranking based on input from stakeholders, including industry, funding agencies, and students. The decision to overhaul the existing system was made during the NAAC's executive council meeting, marking a pivotal moment in the evolution of accreditation practices for higher education in India.

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