Scrap on-site college inspection

Scrap on-site college inspection

Recently, there was a news report about the chairman of a local inspection committee of a university demanding money for submitting a positive report on the affiliation of a college. The college concerned not only released the video of the conversation but also lodged a complaint.

Likewise, there are many instances of the members of such inspection committees demanding money or favours from the colleges. It is also true that many such incidents go unreported in the media. In a knee-jerk reaction, the Government of Karnataka has prohibited the Syndicate members from heading these committees.

The concept of local inspection committees (LIC) in universities was first introduced in the Karnataka State Universities Act, 1974. This practice is being followed in all the universities.

Initially, these committees consisted of experts from the university. Later on, the membership was extended to the members of the university bodies including the Syndicate. By virtue of the membership of the university bodies, these members managed in becoming their chairmen.

At a time when there was no appropriate technology and mechanism, this practice was thought of either for affiliation or extension of affiliation or increase in intake or affiliation of new courses in colleges. This is being carried out every year except when there is permanent affiliation or autonomy being granted.

In all such cases, it is important to understand the problem first, phrase it properly and find an appropriate solution to the given problem. Then, question is what actually is the problem?
Is it the composition of the committees, the behaviour and character of chairman and members, the appointment of members in the university bodies or the integrity of the members of the committees?

If one zeros down the problem to the integrity, behaviour and character of the members, then it appears very generic and obvious. The more macro or generic the problem, the more difficult and complex is the solution. Therefore, the problem mentioned above has to be narrowed down to a given context and to be reframed appropriately.

The problem, on hand, appears more to do with the practice and need for physical and on-site inspection every year which provides for personal encounters. Is this practice relevant today also when the times have changed and lot of water has flown in the Ganga?

The contemporary scenario is replete with many examples. The income tax returns are filed and assessed electronically. There is direct benefit transfer in case of subsidy etc. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has resorted to online renewal of approvals.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has brought in online uploading of institutional data. Even the recently introduced National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) by the National Accreditation Board (NAB) has gone in for online uploading of data.

Off-site accreditation
It is reported that the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (Naac) is contemplating to go in for off-site accreditation to the extent of 80%. Further, the ranking and rating carried out by many agencies internationally have adopted digital mechanisms. In view of all this, physical and on-site inspection of colleges cannot be viewed in isolation. Is there a need/place for such inspections in today’s context also?

The problem on hand has also to do with transparency and accountability of institutions rather than inspection, control and the regulation. It is desirable to bring in mechanisms to expose the institutions more and more to the public and make them to share more and more.

This will bring about not only transparency but also accountability. In fact, the scope for subjective judgement and evaluation has to be eliminated and more objective and measurable criterion by making use of technology have to be brought in for the affiliation of colleges in Universities.

Therefore, the problem appears to be more and more on using the appropriate technology and of ensuring the principals of transparency and accountability. In other words, the very practice of physical and on-site inspection of colleges is the actual issue/problem.

Hence, the solution lies in finding alternatives to physical and on-site inspection of colleges by making use of either technology or other mechanisms. It is high time that the policy makers, universities and other bodies put their heads together to find a solution to the problem on hand.

(The writer is formerly Professor of Management, Bangalore University)

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