NAAC to start regional centres soon

Varsities to have grading, semester system; NET exam to be student friendly

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council will soon start its regional centres across the country. At present, the NAAC functions from its only office in Bangalore.

Disclosing this to mediapersons on the sidelines of the 46th NAAC award ceremony on Sunday, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Ved Prakash said the regional centres would be located on university campuses so that they remain close to the academic sphere.

Speaking about the benefits from the 12th Five Year Plan in improving universities, he said, “There will be several academic reforms, including ushering in grading and semester system in universities apart from capacity development programmes for teachers. The Private Universities Regulations, 2003, will also see amendments. The UGC NET exam will be made more student-friendly.”

Prof Ved Prakash, who is also the president, general council, NAAC, said all these changes will be made under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), which will come into effect this academic year.

More than 600 delegates from various universities and colleges took part in the ceremony and collected the accreditation certificates for their respective institutions.

Speaking on the occasion of the award ceremony, the UGC Chairman called upon the educational institutions to work with the desire to improve the quality, even after getting the NAAC accreditation.

Last year, more than 900 institutions volunteered to get themselves accredited. From this year, it has been made mandatory, he said.

There are 65 universities and about 37,000 colleges across the country. According to the statistics available with the UGC, the number of institutions is growing at a rate of 10.65 per cent per annum and the annual growth in enrolment is growing at a rate of 6.82 percent. The projection for 2017 is 900 universities and 3.1 crore student enrolments for higher education.

Prof Ved Prakash stated that in formal higher education sphere today, there are about two crore students and about 46 lakh students are pursuing higher education outside this sphere.

He observed that there is inequality in the way the educational institutions are placed at present.

In certain places, there are 31 institutions for 1,000 students and in other places there are only three institutions per 1,000 students. “Another problem is severe lack in quality of higher education institutions. Very few of them contribute to the knowledge system. In certain colleges, the staff shortage is up to 35 per cent.”

He threw light on the imbalance in the representation of students.

“The enrolment among minority communities has seen a decrease, the Muslim community for instance. The community’s enrolment stands at 50 per cent less than the total enrolment. The enrolment among SC, ST communities is also coming down,” the UGC chairman said. Pointing out that students passing out of ‘Grade A’ institutions are not necessarily equipped with adequate skills, he emphasised on inclusive education.

V-C appointment

The UGC is reconsidering its earlier decision to delete a clause in its rules, which recommended the formation of a search committee to appoint a Vice-Chancellor. Saying that UGC was seriously examining the deletion of the clause, Prof Ved Prakash observed, “V-C appointment should involve all stakeholders.”

The UGC had, last year, decided to delete clause 7.3 of the ‘UGC Regulations on minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges and measures for maintenance of standards in higher education’. This clause talked about the constitution of a search committee for appointment of Vice-Chancellors to universities. Several academicians saw this as a move that would make V-C appointments the State government’s prerogative (with the search committee gone), leading to undue political interference.

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