Accreditation process audit is an important component of comprehensive academic audit. In pursuance of NPE 1986 and POA 1992 NAAC was established in the year 1993. The NAAC celebrated silver Jubilee in 2018 in camera by inviting a group of VCs. The NAAC started assessment and accreditation of Higher Education Institutions in 1994. In J&K this process started from 2004.
Initially, the NAAC induced a culture of self-introspection in the institutions of higher learning. As a consequence thereof, an ecosystem of accountability and responsibility was created. All the prospective institutions to be evaluated were motivated to perform better on all the parameters set by the NAAC in order to achieve better grades. The institutions were abuzz with one or the other activity. NAAC also funded seminars and workshops for quality sustenance and enhancement. Some members of the faculty at individual level contributed research papers in their respective disciplines. At institutional level all the activities performed were documented. Various institutions came up with vision documents that made them self-conscious about their direction and goals that they were committed to pursue.
In J&K, most of the institutions of higher learning are in the government sector. Naturally, our institutions have no management bodies. It is the higher education department that is ultimately responsible for the upkeep and progress of these institutions. As faculty and staff in our colleges are transferable, the performance of these institutions should have been a concern of the higher education department. However, the department did not even issue a line of appreciation to the institutions whose performance had been appreciable, nor did it enquire from the institutions that had not performed so well. There was absolutely no follow-up on the NAAC recommendations by the higher education department, nor was there any word of appreciation for the faculty members who had contributed in the field of research and other academic endeavors.
There should have been a time bound follow-up by the higher education department as to how the individual institutions were trying to meet the NAAC recommendations, what difficulties they were confronted with in implementing these recommendations and how the department may assist them in this process. The NAAC grades were not even linked to the grant of funds to the institutions. So it can be easily inferred that NAAC grades made absolutely no difference to the individual institutions and the people working therein.
Due to above mentioned factors with the passage of time, accreditation process became a routine affair. The faculty and the administrative staff in the institutions did not take it seriously as Higher Education could not hold institutions accountable. The process lost its power as well as sheen and shine to be a stimulant for self-introspection and self-improvement. The institutions of Higher Education in J & K are not now expected to earn better grades because of revised format and lackadaisical approach adopted by the institutions. Thus;
It is suggested that the period from 5th August 2019 till the end of corona pandemic or vaccination at scale is completed should not be considered for assessment and accreditation.
It is also to be acknowledged that the Higher Education Institutions are not performing in accordance with the NAAC requirements. There is an apprehension that the institutions may end up with low and dismal ranking if the process of accreditation takes place in the near future.
Tarana is a poetic reflection of vision document. It could be futuristic in outlook .NEP 2020 has been adopted. The Higher Education Institutions need to revisit and revise vision document in accordance with National Education Policy 2020. It may demand for something new in institution’s Tarana as well.
NAAC is working on Pareto principle of 80- 20. The Pareto principle, named after esteemed economist Vilfredo Pareto, specifies that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes, asserting an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The Pareto principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. The NAAC Assessment report is based on averages giving same treatment to high performers and low performers.
Some local assessors accredited scores of institutions outside J&K but they didn't share their experiences with their colleagues on their return and didn't go for hand holding exercise to improve upon the performance of our institutions.
There is no practice in our institutions of preparing five year plans criterion wise at the beginning of next accreditation cycle. This would have made it possible to mapping of performance with targets every year. Accordingly efforts should have been put forth to achieve the score card as planned well in time. This would have activated institutions and improved upon their ranking.
In sum, enthusiasm and accountability are very essential to activate any system. There should be self motivation on the part of academic leaders and faculty to gear up the institutional academic productivity. This should also be done through institutional accountability by the higher education department.
The authors are former College Principals