UGC mandates accreditation to push HEIs towards higher standards for grants

Accreditation will ensure that educational institutions maintain quality in terms of infrastructure, faculty, curriculum, and overall academic environment

Sonal Srivastava | Posted February 08, 2024 08:02 AM

UGC mandates accreditation to push HEIs towards higher standards for grants

The UGC has recently issued the Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants Rules, 2024, to motivate colleges towards self-improvement. According to the rules, colleges must hold valid accreditation from either the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) or the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) for at least 60% of their eligible programmes. Alternatively, they must be ranked in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) thrice after participating five times or twice after participating thrice to qualify for grants from the UGC.

Under the new regulations, the teachers will have to be paid according to the norms laid by the UGC, central or state government and the colleges will have to certify the financial resources of their own to meet their operational requirements. The academicians believe that accreditation under these rules will benefit colleges by improving the educational environment. However, they also note that becoming eligible for UGC grants will require colleges to invest in infrastructure development and strengthen teaching-learning processes from their funds which can create challenges for already financially stressed institutions. Earlier, the Fitness of Institutions for Grants Rules, 1975, deemed fit for grants colleges that provide instruction for a bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or diploma course; are a registered society under the Societies Registration Act 1860; are established under a central, provincial or a state act, and are permanently affiliated to a university which has been declared fit under section 12B of the UGC.

The push for accreditation will benefit the students and improve the colleges. “The colleges will get grants, which will further improve the infrastructure, streamline pedagogies and quality of teaching. To be eligible for this, the colleges will be required to have at least 75% of the total sanctioned teaching posts filled and duly follow reservation policy,” says Manish Ratnakar Joshi, secretary, UGC.

“The colleges have been asked to form Internal Quality Cells, which will help in NAAC eligibility. Since NAAC is a continuous assessment process, colleges will now submit quality assurance reports annually. NAAC has several assessment criteria including infrastructure, pedagogies and increase in the best practices followed by a college. All colleges must have some funds, which can be used for students’ welfare,” adds Joshi.

Challenging process

The accreditation process can also pose challenges, especially for smaller institutions with limited resources. The cost of preparing for accreditation, meeting standards, and undergoing evaluations can be a financial burden. “Additionally, the process may require significant time and efforts from faculty and staff. Finally, while NAAC/NBA accreditation can bring about positive changes for smaller institutions affiliated with state universities, the process should be approached strategically, taking into account the unique circumstances and challenges of each institution,” says Mahesh Kumar Jha, associate director, Academics, CMR Institute of Technology, Bangaluru.

The UGC is trying to nudge the colleges towards becoming self-financed institutions. “Colleges that have weak infrastructure will have to work on it from their own funds to become eligible for NAAC accreditation. It can be challenging for colleges that struggle to pay salaries to the staff on time,” says Anupam Kumar, assistant professor, Ramanujan College, Delhi University   

With proper accreditation, these institutions will gain recognition for their quality education which will attract more students and faculty. This will lead to increased funding opportunities from the UGC, says Raj Singh, vice-chancellor JAIN (Deemed-to-be-University), Bengaluru.

Encouraging self-improvement

Accredited institutions often leverage their status to attract philanthropic support and research grants. "However, challenges may arise, and some institutions might resort to moderate tuition adjustments. Nonetheless, a well-managed institution can balance financial sustainability without unduly burdening students,” says Sujata Shahi, vice-chancellor, IILM University, Gurugram.