Separate accreditation for courses on cards

‘A top grade for a varsity/college doesn’t mean all its programmes are of same quality’.

Courses and subjects offered by universities and colleges may soon be accredited by special bodies such as the Indian Commerce Association and the Indian Sociological Society. At present, only educational institutions are accredited by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC).

A “theoretical framework” of such a system is currently being discussed at NAAC and its director, A N Rai, is quite confident that the plan will be approved by the Union government. “This is the need of the hour and we will submit the recommendations to the government. I am 99 percent sure that it will be approved,” he said.

About a month ago, Rai and Dr Jagannath Patil, the deputy advisor at NAAC and president of Asian Pacific Quality Network (APQN), jointly published an article in University News — the weekly journal of the Association of Indian Universities — expounding among other things the need for courses and subject departments to be accredited by specialised bodies. The authors cited examples from the USA and Europe where such a practice is already in vogue.

“It (the plan) is still in the stage of a theoretical framework. We are suggesting all speciality councils and subject associations to come forward and form programme-accrediting bodies. Bodies such as the NAAC and APQN can mentor them… and over a period of two or three years they will be mature to function on their own,” Patil explained to Deccan Herald.

Differentiation

He argued that a differentiation had to be made between the accreditation of universities/colleges and that of the courses and subjects they offered. It would benefit students and employers.

“Just because Bangalore University has been accredited with ‘A’ grade, it does not mean that all courses offered by it will be of the same grade. Also, employers do not get any specific information. They are not able to relate the university directly with the course taken by the students. This gap can be bridged if you focus on programme accreditation,” he stressed.

He maintained that such a scheme of programme accreditation was needed to instil confidence in students about institutions where they wished to apply. The growing global exposure is another reason for such a plan.

“Higher education is increasingly getting internationalised and students, especially those pursuing commerce, management and engineering, are becoming increasingly mobile,” Patil said.

So far as regulation for such bodies is concerned, Patil suggested that a certain mechanism be followed in selecting them. Well-known bodies in fields science, social science, etc should be preferred. Besides, the Centre could set up a body to look into such an aspect, he added.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has set up a similar body, the National Board of Accreditation, which accredits courses in technical/engineering institutions.

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