Mandatory accreditation for colleges soon

HRD minister Smriti Irani is interested in the bill originally drafted during UPA regime

Mandatory accreditation for colleges soon

In a bid to curb the mushrooming of unrecognised universities and colleges, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is likely to give a fresh push to a proposal to make accreditation mandatory for all higher educational institutions under a law to be enacted by Parliament.

This was originally envisaged by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government but was not taken up expeditiously. 

The HRD Ministry plans to redraft the bill and introduce it in Parliament for passage in the days to come. HRD Minister Smriti Zubin Irani is learnt to have shown interest in the proposal as mandatory accreditation by a law will help improve the standard of higher educational institutions in the country. 

“The modalities of the new bill are yet to be worked out but making accreditation mandatory is certainly one of the areas of key interest in the HRD Ministry,” government sources said.

A bill seeking to make accreditation mandatory with penal provisions for violation of the legislation was formulated and introduced in the Lok Sabha by the UPA government in 2010.

The draft legislation, which stipulated setting up of a national accreditation authority, however, got stuck in Parliament for its passage.

Some provisions of the bill, which now stands lapsed with the end of term of the previous government, were criticised by the Opposition, including some members of the Congress.

Frozen draft

To bring out a consensus in Parliament, the HRD Ministry later diluted the legislation by dropping a significant clause that stipulated a maximum two years of imprisonment for violation of the legislation.

It was understood to have been done because of stiff opposition from private institutions. A parliamentary standing committee too had recommended “suitable modification” in the clause.

The bill, however, could not see the light of day despite amendments as several sessions of the 15th Lok Sabha were affected due to logjams in Parliament over a host of issues, including price rise and corruption.

The UPA government later made accreditation mandatory for all higher educational institutions through an executive order. Though the University Grants Commission (UGC) framed and issued guidelines for its implementation, a large number of institutions are yet to be accredited.

“Accreditation is the need of the hour to improve the standard of the country’s higher education system. The accreditation process will get a shot in the arm once the proposed legislation is revived and passed by Parliament,” a UGC source said, hoping that the government will fast-track the move.

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