Belagavi, May 5: The idea of entrusting the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) with the additional role of accreditation and assessing agency as reportedly hinted by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar recently has not gone well with some of the prominent academicians one of whom has critically viewed as an “unexpected” and “not in the interest of IITs”.
Should this happen at a time when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expecting to see at one Indian university among the top 100 universities in the world? Will the idea help the government’s aims and objectives in boosting academic excellence, particularly in higher and professional education system of the country?
K. Balaveera Reddy, former IITian who served as Vice-Chancellor of Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) for two terms and played significant role in shaping the Karnataka’s only technological university and winning it as one of the prestigious technological universities in India raised these questions and told allaboutbelgaum.com on Friday that he did not approve the idea and already shot a letter to the HRD Minister questioning the move.
He has pointed out that there were various Universities/Institutions established through Central/State governments. Accreditation of Institutions/Programmes of study is under the authority of autonomous bodies like NAAC for Institutional accreditation and NBA for Engineering, Medical/Nursing and Management programmes. There are the various regulators (autonomous) under the aegis of central government, in addition to which state Government have their own regulators for granting permission to start the courses. These institutions include Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Medical Council of India (MCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), Indian Nursing Council (INC), Dental Council of India (DCI), Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH), Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Board of Accreditation (NBA) for technical and management colleges, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) besides, the Bar Council of India (BCI), Quality Council of India (QCI), Distance Education Council (DEC), National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Scientific Institute and Research Organizations (SIROs), Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), National Council for Indian Education (NCIE), Institute of Management & Engineering (IME).
Further, he said with too many regulators and inspections, there exist no proper accountability with any agency resulting in poor quality of educational standards in practice. As per recent news article in a section of national print media recently, the idea is being mooted to entrust the role of accreditation agencies to the existing IITs. The idea sounds deviating from main purpose of establishing IITs and has the following limitations:
Former Prime Minister late Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru said that IITs were expected to provide an ideal platform for scientists and technologists of higher caliber to engage in research, design and development to help build the nation towards self-reliance in her technological needs.
The main purpose of establishing IITs (as per high power Sarkar Committee report, 1945) is to develop advanced technical education on the lines of MIT of USA, training technical manpower (under graduates/post graduates), research, train technical teachers and to hand-hold many secondary technical institutes under them. The question therefore arises whether the idea help or boost the avowed objectives and stated purposes behind establishing these IITs or deviate from it?
IITs top talent focus will be diluted from teaching, research & development, innovation, consultancy and projects to smaller role of accreditation/bureaucratic inspection.
IIT faculty, deputed for accreditation may have to spend five days for each inspection. For instance, if one faculty attends five inspections in a year, it will be 25 man-days per year. Main focus of research /teaching will be lost as many ma- days will be utilized for secondary works.
Actually, IITs should focus towards working on world class special high-tech research, design and development, product and process innovation programs that would achieve Nobel Prizes and also in solving national challenging issues…etc. IITs should also create an environment towards achieving excellence as top technological universities in the world. They can act as mentor institutes to NITs /IIITs/Top tier institutions rather than being an inspecting agency.
Possible solutions: What is the right solution? Who has to own the accreditation agency role? In my opinion, the following can be thought of to enhance quality of educational institutions regulation/accreditation””, said Dr.Reddy.
He said the first option is like NAAC under UGC and NBA is autonomous body under AICTE; each regulator can have one autonomous accreditation agency under its umbrella as its body consists of subject-experts. Same human resources can be utilised for inspection as well as for regulation and duplication of resources can be avoided.
Second option is accreditation can be done on the model of ISO certification – Privatize the accreditation process (de-licensing from Government controls); Auditing can be done by the various categorized and recognized agencies; Each private accreditation agency may have their own standards; educational institution can choose the accreditation agency depending upon their level of performance; Non-conforming observations can be re-audited at fixed time intervals.
The third option could be to allow respective universities of Central /State have their own autonomous accreditation agencies, which will inspect (resources drawn from pooled experts) all affiliated institutions under their jurisdiction.
Dr.Reddy observed that IITs and NITs being higher learning institutions could together form one autonomous body for accreditation purpose only for central government institutions: “As an alumni of IIT, my deep concern is that IITs role may be diluted and focus is likely to be lost, if entrusted with accreditation agency role for entire India. I am hopeful that enlightened MHRD will take right decision in the best interest of the IITs, institutions and also accreditation agencies”.