KU: Beyond Accreditation

National Accreditation and Assessment has become necessary, or one must say inescapable for our educational institutions of higher learning. The university grants commission (UGC) has caught hold of our neck under the pretext of NAAC and the funding for our institutions is harmonious to the grade given by the peer team. So we have to gear up as a responsible stakeholder and get our institution (College/University) accredited so that we can survive and develop our institution for imparting quality education to our students which is of course going to give us a better future. Here I would like to debate some ramifications of this affair which might prove terribly counter productive for our institutions.

1. Composing our institutions NAAC aligned only:  Needless to say, that the sole motive  of our educational institutions is to promulgate quality education and to create good human resource in the shape of our students. The student, undoubtedly, should be our priority. But unfortunately NAAC inspects everything except teaching; there is a clause with academic auditing but that too does not define the level of teaching being exercised in an educational institution. The main thrust instead has been put upon research, e – learning, alumni association, e – resources, outreach programmes, skill development courses, etc.  Apropos research, everybody can’t be Albert Einstein, Ramanujan or Mirza Ghalib. It is meaningless to expect everybody to be of that eminence, but a minimum level is to be maintained. We as researchers should not be contributory to breeding mediocrity in our system or society. Most unfortunate thing is that we believe in numbers and prefer quantity over quality . Under the pretext of e – learning we invest a hefty amount of our money for constructing smart class rooms etc., which remain unutilized and the money gets wasted. Skill based courses is a main constituent so far as the accreditation is concerned, to my own understanding higher education is not for attaining skill it is for acquiring knowledge, enlightenment, wisdom, emancipation, for inculcating a sprit of asking questions and ingraining scientific/research temperament. I am not trying to invalidate the essence of these facets. But I am trying to prioritize things, and to describe how we should make the optimal use of our resources. We aspire for getting good grades from the peer team and that is what should  strive for. But not at the cost of something which is comparably of greater value, what if we don’t get a very good grade, we will not get enough funding! Will it still be viable to run our institutions smoothly or the survival is in danger?. The bottom line is:  lets not waste our time and energy for getting grades, but focus on to do good in teaching, try to motivate, inspire  our students towards learning and try to kindle a thirst (what Iqbal puts as  ‘iztiraab’) in them for seeking knowledge.

2. Getting carried away by a good grade: Looking at the genesis of the NAAC accreditation, one can say it is a fight between pygmies not the giants. The accreditation by National Accreditation and Assessment Council takes place amongst the universities. The institutions of the country such as, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISC) at Bangalore the ISI’s, other research institutes and the  IITs which undoubtedly are doing much better (than the universities) in teaching and research neither come under the prerogative of UGC nor under this accreditation enterprise. So if we get a reasonably good grade from NAAC we have every reason to celebrate but not to get overwhelmed which may result in false confidence and we forget to proceed in the direction of furtherance. Recently our university got re-accredited and fortunately we got a better grade to the previous one.  We should be consistent with this work culture and the lofty gradation motivation for putting our maximum. This energy and synergy should be be within our university culture. We were rewarded for our hard work and we have every reason to celebrate it.

But there are things we should and have to ponder upon. It seems like the university administration is adopting ‘hit and trial’ method so for as our academic policies are concerned where the stakeholders are our students. I don’t find any logic behind the (MCQ paper) examination scheme for our undergrad courses. The student support is not adequate within the premises they are not treated nicely by the university officers/officials. In a recent UG finals year results around two hundred students asked for the xerox copy of their answer scripts and got their result changed. The meetings of the board of studies/research studies don’t take place in a well organised manner which proves cataclysmic for the environment. The board of research studies meeting (BORS) happens only once in a blue moon (it took place only once in five years),  proper suggestions are not sought (through deliberations) in the PG/UG board of studies meeting. These issues are to be dealt with seriously. NAAC means a lot to us but not everything. We get funding which is important for a university to run but what is more important is our students. We have to invest our time and energy for getting good grades but what is more important is an inspiring teacher. We publish a good number of research papers but what is more important is quality research. We award degrees/ research degrees but what is more important is the placement of our outgoing students. These are the things we should think upon.