The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC). It is headquartered in Bangalore. The vision statement of NAAC is:
“To make quality the defining element of higher education in India through a combination of self and external quality evaluation, promotion and sustenance initiatives.”
NAAC conducts accreditation and assessment of higher learning institutions in India (colleges, universities and other recognised institutions). Given that education is a significant parameter in the development and growth of a nation, NAAC was set up in 1994 to maintain quantity (availability and access) and quality (relevance and excellent standard of academic offerings) of higher education in India.
NAAC accreditation is mandatory for every higher learning institution – without this accreditation, universities are not eligible for UGC grants, RUSA grants, or financial aid. Additionally, all institutes recognised by the UGC need to apply for this before their second batch of students graduates from the college.
NAAC evaluates the institutions for its adherence to quality standards in terms of its performance on various parameters, keeping in mind both students and faculty (and other staff) as stakeholders with respect to the institution and accreditation. Formally, these factors are:
- Curricular Aspects
This parameter relates to the success of an institution in initiating a wide range of programme options and courses that follow emerging national and global trends and are locally relevant, catering to domestic needs. Also gauges academic flexibility, diversity, multi-skill development, feedback systems and involvement of stakeholders in periodically updating the curriculum to stay relevant in local, national and global terms.
- Teaching-Learning and Evaluation
This parameter focuses on student profiles (admissions and diverse representation in student community), quality of faculty (qualifications, availability and teaching ability), teaching methods (efficacy, how well they cater to the diverse needs of students, and relevance in evolving times), evaluation processes (student assessment), student performance and outcomes and student satisfaction. Interactive instructional techniques used to engage students in higher-order thinking, through the use of focused group discussions, debates, projects, presentations, experiments, and application of ICT resources are important considerations.
- Research, Innovations and Extension
Focuses on the promotion of research, research publications and awards, development of ecosystems that support and boost innovation (incubation centre and other initiatives for the creation and transfer of knowledge), and extension (emphasizes community service and development of sensitivity and action towards real-world issues such as those based on community, gender, social inequity etc.)
- Infrastructure and Learning Resources
Takes into account physical facilities, resources and infrastructure on campus (libraries, laboratories etc.), IT infrastructure (technological learning resources, use of ICT) along with maintenance and proper functioning of the above.
- Student Support and Progression
Measures efforts of the institution to assist students, enable meaningful learning & experiences and promote holistic development. This evaluates the performance of students in terms of placement and progression (jobs and higher studies respectively), and mechanisms such as placement cell, grievance redressal and overall welfare of the student body. Also considers student participation and activities as well as alumni engagement.
- Governance, Leadership and Management
Gauges policies and practices of the institute, related to human resources, recruitment and training, performance appraisal, financial management and the overall role of leadership.
- Institutional Values and Best Practices
Considers efforts of the institution to sensitise students towards social issues and adopt practices and programmes that contribute towards social responsibilities. Also recognises distinct characteristics of the institutes and practices that have internally evolved and lead to a positive impact.
NAAC Assessment grades go from A++ to D (grade denotes the performance of institutes as very good, good, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory), where institutes scoring a D are not accredited. The above criteria form a comprehensive profile of any institution and assessment of these factors leads to a clear picture of how good the said institution is.
The NAAC accreditation and assessment helps students choose an institute that would be a good fit for them and determine the value and prestige of the degree they could obtain from the institute. Picking a college with a higher NAAC accreditation could be beneficial in the long run in case a student is applying to prestigious colleges for higher education (especially abroad) since it would be a parameter for them to grade your resume (as per the quality and prestige of the institute previously attended).
Additionally, it also helps employers pick colleges for recruitment – this assessment helps them pick universities with graduates that best fit the profile, standards and type of employees they need.
As for the institutes themselves, there are several benefits to getting a NAAC accreditation. The institute is made aware of its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and what it needs to improve on. The institute can also use this profiling to modify its approach to pedagogy, improve infrastructure, increase focus on student satisfaction and learning outcomes and plan its internal allocation of funding and other resources. The NAAC accreditation and assessment are also grounds for funding grants from the UGC.
Therefore, the NAAC accreditation is an important parameter for both students and universities – for students as a factor in deciding which college to attend and for universities to boost their prestige.