* One of the major reasons for the weightage shift to the ‘online assessment and evaluation’ was to stop a possible subjectivity leading to corruption during a physical inspection. However, placing prime reliance on the ‘online’ mode is perhaps also turning greatly unreliable. Often, unscrupulous low quality institutes could be seen walking away with a much higher grade and NIRF ranking than they had truly deserved.
Institutes submit SSR with some data (correct or incorrect) and DVV raises observations on a few metrics, asking for response duly authenticated by the Registrar/Institute Head. At the first place, SSR also gets submitted with an ‘undertaking’ of correctness by the Institute Head. So, one wonders, by asking same person or person with lower designation to authenticate, how does NAAC could add a credibility or rigour to the defence of the questionable data? Unless, a trustworthy external expert team verifies/validates the questionable data on ground, institutes will invariably succeed in easily justifying their earlier submitted data, in most cases.
* By a conscious decision by the Ministry, NAAC and NIRF has been linked to granting of a graded autonomy-neither a practice in the developed world, nor this model was ever used to develop Ivy League institutes to the best of my personal knowledge. Because the graded autonomy stakes are now pegged extremely high, a number of ‘low quality but high aspiring institutes’ would find various loopholes in the system to circumvent, and perhaps many are succeeding too. It is like the legislatures legislate a law that puts penalty or provides benefits, and then various unscrupulous elements within and outside the system start their corrupt businesses to take their pound of flesh. Much the same way, a number of unscrupulous private enterprises are indeed coming up to facilitate institutes in all kinds of wrong-doings, thus rendering the system badly exposed to its fragility.
Since punishment and penalty is not sufficient to provide deterrence and IPC has perhaps not yet been invoked for fudging/falsifying data to get undue gains for the institution, the values n’ ethics advocated by the NAAC are likely to be thrown to the winds. NEP, a very well-thought out education policy document, requires an equal measure of probity and ethics in accreditation and ranking system as well. A fair system backed by strict watchdog and deterring punishment is essential, if linked with granting of graded autonomy or else Ministry could think of de-linking granting of autonomy with the grades and ranks. 🙏
– the views expressed are personal and with a view to purely improve our system.