NAAC to Launch Binary Accreditation System in June for Colleges Across India, Targets 90% Coverage Over 5 Years

The reforms are in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that envisage a transparent system for ranking and accreditation of higher education institutions. (Getty Images)

Binary accreditation is one of the major reforms to be implemented by the accreditation body that grades colleges and universities across the country on various parameters, including quality of education. It will replace the existing multiple-grading assessment for colleges and universities across India, News18 has learnt

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is set to launch its new ‘binary accreditation’ system this June, which will replace the existing multiple-grading assessment for colleges and universities across India, News18 has learnt.

Binary accreditation is one of the major reforms to be implemented by the accreditation body that grades colleges and universities across the country on various parameters, including quality of education. The binary system shall focus more on processes, outcomes and impact rather than on mere inputs being received from institutions.

“The binary accreditation system will be introduced before June-end. Nine committees are working on it. Thereafter, all new applications for accreditation will have to be assessed based on this,” said Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairperson, Executive Committee, NAAC.

Binary here means giving an either accredited or not accredited tag instead of grades to encourage all institutions to get on-boarded in the accreditation process, thereby creating a quality culture in the higher education system. It is a shift from the existing input-centric grading system to an outcome-based accreditation approach.

The reforms were recommended in a report titled ‘Reforms for Strengthening Assessment and Accreditation in Higher Education Institutions’, which was released by the Ministry of Education (MoE) on January 28 this year.

The reforms are in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that envisage a transparent system for ranking and accreditation of higher education institutions.

The report was prepared by an overarching panel appointed by the ministry and led by K Radhakrishnan, former chairman of ISRO and chairperson of Standing Committee of IIT Council in November 2022 to propose transformative reforms for strengthening assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions in India.

NAAC’s executive committee had in its 104th meeting in January decided that the reforms recommended in the report will be implemented in two stages – binary system over the next four months and maturity-based grading (multi-level) system from December 2024.

According to officials in the know, implementing binary accreditation is also one of the goals to be achieved by the council in the first 100 days of the new government being constituted and thereafter expanding the coverage of institutions under it to at least 90% over the next five years.

At present, Lok Sabha elections are being held to elect the new government at the Centre, as the term of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ends next month. The elections that were held in seven phases will end on June 1, which will be the last phase of voting. Results to the general elections will be announced on June 4.

Ahead of the polls, the Centre had asked each of the ministries and departments under it to submit their targets for the first 100 days of the new government being constituted in June as well as a year-wise plan on how they will be taking the achievements forward over the next five years.

At present, accreditation for colleges and universities by NAAC is not mandatory.

“The number of institutions coming forward for regular accreditation at present is low. There are around 1,200 universities across India, of which, only about 30% are getting accredited currently. This figure for colleges is even lower. Of the over 50,000 colleges, only 15% seek accreditation. Our goal is to expand this to at least 90% to ensure the quality of higher education being provided by these institutions,” an official said.

Once the new system is in place, the NAAC committees will shift their focus on defining the multi-level grading parameters to be launched by December this year.

The report stated that maturity-based grading will mean multiple levels of quality to be achieved by institutions — from level 1-5 — in order to encourage accredited institutions to raise their bar; improve continuously; and evolve in- depth or in-breadth in disciplines from ‘Level 1’ to ‘Level 4’ (Institutions of Excellence) and then gradually to ‘Level 5’ (Institutions of Global Excellence for Multi-disciplinary research and education).

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