So far, most of you perhaps knew that institutes should avoid a mentor, guide or consultant for institute’s NAAC and NBA accreditation. You are not alone in this. Some accrediting bodies too have been cautioning institutes as well, unmindful of the fact that having mentors, team chairs and consultants during a sustained period of institute’s preparation for accreditation is in fact, a leading global best practice in accreditation, the world over.
Take a look at the ABET-the topmost accrediting body in the world for the engineering programs. It lays down in its process that institutes shall be required to be guided by the Team Chair (a Consultant), so assigned by the ABET. Please note that ABET is not a government body of the United States but a private accrediting body of an immense repute. The Team Chair visits the applying institute, hand-holds the faculty/staff and irons out the gaps in capacity building for the ABET.
AACSB, a yet another top accrediting body for the Management institutes in the world, makes it compulsory for the institutes to have a Mentor assigned for 2 years who helps in preparing iSER. Applying institute is required to call for Mentor’s visit to the institute who helps institute to prepare iSER of approximately 100 pages. After acceptance of iSER a transition takes place from Mentor to Chair who enables institute to submit final SER after institute implements the iSER recommendations.
In my view, a consultant/mentor can play a critical enabling role in providing in identifying gaps in the readiness for accreditation and guide institutes on how to build capacity and competence on various parameters of assessment, including but not limited to establishing robust system of outcome-based assessment and evaluation, enhancing research, consultancy, technology-led teaching-learning instruments, establishing workshops/labs where the future jobs lies, industrial liaison and forging international collaborations. A good consultant/mentor can be extremely useful in helping institute attain its accreditation goals.
It goes without saying that should you decide to engage any consultant, he/she must be a competent person with an immense knowledge, experience and proven credentials. Ask him/her to take a session/carry out academic audit before you select him/her for your institute. It must be understood that if you feel truly confident to go alone without a consultant, go ahead.
Prof JR Sharma, is an accreditation mentor for foreign accreditation, NAAC and NBA and has so far guided faculty of over 80 universities and colleges. The views expressed are purely personal.