The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) decided on Saturday that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country will now be classified as either “accredited” or “not accredited,” replacing the previous accreditation system that assigned grades.
During the Saturday executive council meeting, the NAAC also resolved to award additional levels ranging from one to five to accredited institutions, with the aim of encouraging them to attain the highest possible level.
Both the binary accreditation system (accredited or not accredited) and the maturity-based graded accreditation (levels 1 through 5) will come into effect by December and March, respectively, following these reforms.
“There will be Binary Accreditation (either accredited or not accredited) rather than grades with the aim of encouraging all institutions to get on board in the accreditation process, thereby creating a quality culture in the higher education system,” news agency PTI quoted a senior official from the Education Ministry.
“The binary accreditation is also in line with the best practices followed in many leading countries in the world,” he added.
Furthermore, the accreditation authority intends to use the Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation system (Level 1 to 5) to incentivise accredited institutions to enhance their standards, aiming for the highest level of 5, denoted as “Institutions of Global Excellence for Multi-Disciplinary Research and Education.”
This level-grading approach aims to empower Indian institutions to significantly elevate their quality, positioning themselves among the global elite.
Under the current system, the outcome of the assessment is the final grading of institutions. Following assessment, the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) is computed for institutions meeting the grade qualifiers. The final grade is then assigned based on a seven-point scale derived from the CGPA, aligning each letter grade with a specific score range.
A committee established by the ministry has recommended transformative reforms to fortify the periodic approval, assessment, accreditation, and ranking of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The National Education Policy 2020 set a target of a 50 per cent Gross Enrollment Ratio by 2035, leading to the formation of a committee headed by K Radhakrishnan, former chairman of ISRO, in November 2022. The committee, after public consultation, submitted its final report to the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on January 16.
In accordance with the recommendations, the metrics for Binary and Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation focus on processes, outcomes, and impact across various attributes of HEIs rather than solely on inputs. A “One Nation One Data Platform” has been proposed to ensure integrity and transparency in handling institutional data for purposes like approval, accreditation, and ranking. Additionally, a “stakeholder validation” mechanism is proposed to enhance the validity and reliability of the data by integrating stakeholders into the accreditation and ranking process.
The NAAC, an autonomous body under the UGC, assesses and certifies higher educational institutions using gradings as part of accreditation. The recommendations highlight Binary Accreditation to encourage institutions to participate in the accreditation process, aligning with global best practices.
Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation (Level 1 to 5) aims to motivate accredited institutions to continually improve and reach global excellence. This leveled accreditation system is expected to facilitate significant improvement in the quality of Indian institutions.
The new process emphasises outcomes and impacts across different attributes of HEIs, acknowledging their heterogeneity and categorising them based on orientation, vision, and heritage. Special attention will be given to rural and remote institutions through mentoring and handholding.
The proposed One Nation One Data Platform seeks to capture a comprehensive set of data from HEIs, ensuring authenticity through collateral cross-checking. Trust and Data-Driven principles will minimise physical visits for verification, but heavy penalties will be imposed for incorrect submissions. Additionally, customised rankings based on stakeholders such as industry, funding agencies, and students will be incorporated into the system.