National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC)

Assessment carried by NAAC for higher education institutions have been mired in controversy. There have been demands for reviewing the process of accreditation by NAAC.

ABOUT National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC)

NAAC is an autonomous institution established by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the UGC Act, 1956 for assessing and accrediting higher education institutions (HEIs) of the country.

NAAC conducts assessment and accreditation of HEIs to derive an understanding of the ‘Quality Status’ of the institution.

Headquartered in Bengaluru.

Eligibility: Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), with at least two batches of students graduated, or been in existence for six years, whichever is earlier, are eligible to apply for process of Assessment & Accreditation (A&A) of NAAC. Institutions covered can be:

  • Universities (Central/State/Private/Deemed to be) and Institutions of National Importance
  • Autonomous colleges/Constituent Colleges/Affiliated Colleges (Affiliated to universities recognised by UGC as an affiliating university)
  • Accredited HEIs applying for Reassessment or Subsequent Cycles (Cycle 2, Cycle 3, Cycle 4) of Accreditation
  • Any other HEIs at the discretion of NAAC.

Criteria of Accreditation followed by NAAC: Currently, the NAAC follows an input-based approach and focuses on 7 main criteria. NAAC has categorised HEIs into three major categories (University, Autonomous College and Affiliated/Constituent College) and are assigned different weightages to these criteria. They are:

  1. Curricular Aspects
  2. Teaching-Learning & Evaluation
  3. Research, Innovations and Extension
  4. Infrastructure and Learning Resources
  5. Student support & progression
  6. Governance, Leadership and Management
  7. Institutional Values and Best Practices.

Process of Accreditation: Process of  assessment and accreditation broadly consists of:

  1. Online submission of institutional information for quality assessment and self-study report.
  2. Data validation and verification by NAAC.
  3. Student Satisfaction Survey by NAAC
  4. Peer Team Visit
  5. Institutional Grading

Assessment Outcome: Final result of Assessment & Accreditation exercise will be an ICT based score, which is a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics. This will be based on report of Peer Review Team, institutional grade sheet and quantitative metrics. The above three parts will together form “NAAC Accreditation Outcome” document. It is mandatory for the HEIs to display it on their institutional website apart from NAAC hosting it on its website.

Range of Institutional Cumulative Grade Point AverageLetter GradeStatus
<=1.50DNot accredited

Validity of Accreditation: Accreditation given by NAAC is usually valid for a period of 5 years. However, institutions which have secured highest grade consecutively in previous two cycles of accreditation and continue to do so in the 3rd cycle will be eligible for extension of validity from 5 years to 7 years.

Scope of Reassessment: Institutions can apply for reassessment to make an improvement in the accredited status, after a minimum of one year or before three years of accreditation. Current procedures and methodology is also applicable for all institutions applying for re-assessment.

Issues with NAAC

Discrepancies in Assessment process: Peer review of Assessments done by NAAC have been found to be allocating ‘arbitrary points’ to colleges. There have been allegations that certain HEIs are given more scores in NAAC assessment and even corruption and bribing of members of peer-review team.

Limited coverage: Despite mandate for universal accreditation of HEIs in India. More than 50% of universities and 75% of affiliated colleges in India are not accredited.

Issues with current assessment method of NAAC

  • Current assumption is that desired learning outcomes can be achieved once systems and processes necessary for achieving them are in place. However, the focus must shift to assessing the learning outcomes themselves. There is a need to assess knowledge and skills acquired by students as outcomes after completing their studies.
  • Process of Peer Team Visits adds substantial effort on the part of NAAC and Higher Education Institutions. Hence, role of Peer Teams should be facilitatory in nature and not have a significant weightage in assessment and accreditation.
  • Documentation exercise is too intensive and overwhelming for HEIs and must be rationalised.
  • Choosing of members of peer-review group is often biased and not objective. Only those Universities/Colleges which have NAAC grading or NIRF Ranking will be eligible for inclusion in the list maintained by UGC for receiving financial assistance.

Way Forward:

  • Moving towards outcome based assessment: NAAC should clearly spell out outcomes of learning expected of graduates of an Higher Education Institution with focus on assessing Educatedness, Professional Skills, Career Progression, Alumni Feedback, Autonomy of Practitioners, Quality of Teaching, Quality of Research, Commitment for SDGs, Diversity & Inclusiveness & Infrastructure support and development.
  • Assessment and Accreditation of educational institutions should be done transparently and professionally.
  • Only those Universities/Colleges which have NAAC grading or NIRF Ranking will be eligible for inclusion in the list maintained by UGC for receiving financial assistance.
  • Move towards unified National Accreditation Council (NAC): National Education Policy, 2020 has proposed National Accreditation Council as a meta-accrediting body. UGC has established  a committee to bring synergy between NAAC, National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and National Institutional Ranking Framework to propose a common framework and roadmap for National Accreditation Council.
  • Accreditation & Assessment shall be mandatory and every Higher Educational Institution needs to be accredited. Self-declaration and transparency shall be basis of assessment and accreditation.
  • Accreditation should be carried out by an independent ecosystem of accrediting institutions supervised and overseen by NAC. Recognised accreditor to be awarded to an appropriate number of institutions by NAC.
  • A Graded system of accreditation should be developed which will eventually result in graded autonomy for colleges and HEIs.
  • Technology Enabled Assessment: Use of technology to might help HEIs in reducing burden of collecting and verifying data for assessment. Technology enabled formative assessment may provide a comprehensive, reliable and realistic assessment of HEIs.

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