By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2023-03-20 00:35:14
The National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) is facing mounting scrutiny as allegations of corruption and malpractice continue to emerge. The recent resignation of Bhushan Patwardhan, the executive committee chairperson of NAAC, along with adverse remarks from the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), has shed light on serious issues within the organization.
An internal committee has now found that the IT systems used by NAAC are opaque and not strong enough, allowing data to be modified without proper authorization. This follows previous reports of some institutions bribing peer teams for better grades. Patwardhan has alleged that some institutions have received "questionable grades" due to "vested interests and malpractices," indicating that corruption is widespread within the organization.
NAAC has previously defended its processes as "robust, transparent, ICT-driven, and automated" and claimed that its assessments are "done transparently and professionally." However, the internal committee report clearly debunks these claims. Professionalism is only on paper and processes are anything but automated.
The situation at NAAC is reminiscent of the corruption that was uncovered within the Medical Council of India, another organization tasked with grading and issuing licenses for medical colleges. The government must act quickly to overhaul NAAC and ensure that it is functioning as it should. It is clear that NAAC is failing to assess and accredit institutions of higher education correctly and as per the rule books.
The entire system of assessing and accrediting colleges and institutes needs to be overhauled. A relook at the present system of colleges submitting self-reports followed by a visit by a peer team is necessary. Additionally, the IT systems used by NAAC must be transparent and robust with backend access limited to a few authorized officials only. Students deserve better than to be taken for a ride by an organization plagued by corruption and malpractice.