Published: 10th May 2022
Why are higher education institutes in Odisha struggling for NAAC accreditation?
Vice-Chairperson of OSHEC, Ashok Das, said that the state government had started a programme for mentoring 100 to 200 institutions every year to help them go for NAAC evaluation
Even as the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 mandates accreditation of all higher education institutes (HEIs) by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) under the University Grants Commission (UGC), many institutions in Odisha are struggling for compliance.
According to UGC's State analysis report of accreditation, among 1,025 degree and 72 PG colleges in Odisha, NAAC has so far accredited a meagre 281 colleges (both autonomous and general). Out of these accredited colleges, 201 had valid accreditation till December 31, 2019. Of them, 177 colleges (88 per cent) are government and government-aided and 24 colleges (12 per cent) are unaided and self-financed colleges.
The remaining 81 which are affiliated with various universities, had not opted for re-accreditation. While nine of these colleges are under Berhampur University, 11 are under BPUT, five under FM University, eight each under Maharaja Bhanjadeo University and Rama Devi Women’s University, 12 under Sambalpur University and the highest, 28, under Utkal University.
Among 20 public universities including technical varsities, currently, NAAC accreditation of Utkal, Berhampur, Ravenshaw, Sambalpur universities, BPUT, Rama Devi and Shri Jagannath Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya has lapsed. But the universities are in different stages of applying for re-accreditation. While Berhampur University will be facing the NAAC team soon, Utkal will be submitting its self-study report to UGC.
The grade of all grades
A NAAC grade is valid for a period of five years and non-accreditation can deprive the institutions of Central grants by the UGC under the Rashtriya Uchhattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). NAAC grading is mandatory after six years of inception of an HEI or passing out of two batches of students.
Academicians say the COVID-19 outbreak delayed the re-accreditation process of the existing accredited HEIs. However, they fear that NAAC’s decision in 2017 to change its evaluation process to online will make it difficult for the autonomous and remaining colleges to opt for the accreditation. Odisha has 32 autonomous colleges.
As per the new evaluation system, NAAC will record 70 per cent of data of universities and colleges online and the remaining 30 per cent through peer team (assessors) visits.
Under this, all HEIs need to have proper websites with all the required information for NAAC evaluation. If Higher Education department sources are to be believed, around 60 per cent of HEIs in Odisha either do not have websites or sites not updated with valid information.
Taking digital seriously
"While private HEIs appoint consultants to create and maintain websites, government institutions do not have that luxury. For accreditation, the HEIs should speak to NAAC through their websites. The problem with Odisha's HEIs is that they are yet to take digital evaluation seriously," said a faculty member of BJB College, requesting anonymity.
While RUSA mandated NAAC grade for all HEIs in the country by 2022, NEP 2020 extended this deadline to 2030. After two years of the pandemic, the state government has now sought information from the Odisha State Higher Education Council (OSHEC) on the status of HEIs which are accredited and need to be accredited.
Vice-Chairperson of OSHEC, Ashok Das, said that the state government had started a programme for mentoring 100 to 200 institutions every year to help them go for NAAC evaluation with funds from World Bank.
Besides, UGC launched Paramarsh scheme to do the same job. However, the projects could not be implemented due to the COVID outbreak. "The work has started now and post-summer, many colleges and universities will start preparations for NAAC evaluation," he said.
OSHEC also started an academic audit of HEIs four months back to help institutes realise their strengths and weaknesses and take corrective measures which will help them face NAAC. It has so far completed audits of six institutions including Rama Devi, Ravenshaw, Gangadhar Meher universities, BJB and Prananath autonomous colleges.