Undue Credits – National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)’s “conflict of interest” | 10th March 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the flaws in the NAAC’s system to grade colleges and universities.


  • GS2: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies; Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources;
  • GS4
  • Prelims


  • Recently, the chairperson of the executive committee of the NAAC resigned to “safeguard the sanctity” of the post.
  • This indicates that all is not well with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

What is the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)?

  • It is an UGC-affiliated autonomous body that grades colleges and universities in the country.
  • The ratings of institutions range from A++ to C. If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited.

What is the process for Accreditation?

  • Input based accreditation process is used.
  • In such a process the NAAC relies heavily on self-assessment by applicant institutions.
  • The first step is for an applicant institution to submit a self-study report of information related to quantitative and qualitative metrics.
  • The data is then validated by NAAC expert teams, followed by peer team visits to the institutions.

Which educational institutes can apply for Accreditation?

  • Only higher education institutions that are at least six years old, or from where at least two batches of students have graduated, can apply.
  • The accreditation is valid for five years.
  • Further, Aspiring institutes need to be recognised by the UGC and have regular students enrolled in their full-time teaching and research programmes.

University Grants Commission:

  • It came into existence on 28th December, 1953 and became a statutory body by an Act of Parliament in 1956, for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in university education.
  • The headquarter of UGC is located in New Delhi.


  • The last step, i.e. data validation by NAAC teams and the peer team visits has sparked controversy in the past and this case.
    • For instance, in September last year, the newspaper reported that the accreditation agency had withheld the grading of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda after receiving a tip-off that its peer review team had been bribed.
    • The NAAC dismissed the allegations and released MS University’s scores.
  • The controversy had surfaced at a time when the Council was holding internal conversations on the peer review system.
  • A White Paper published by the agency, noted that, “The process of peer team visits adds substantial effort on the part of both NAAC and the higher educational institutions (HEI)”.
  • Less than half of the country’s public universities and a little more than a fourth of the colleges were NAAC accredited, as of January 30.
  • It’s evident that a large number of colleges and universities see the accreditation process as a burden.
  • This is not unexpected in a country with a well-documented resource crunch in the majority of its HEIs.
  • There surely is a case for the peer-review process “to be facilitatory” as suggested by the NAAC’s White Paper.

Way Forward:

  • The NAAC has also initiated conversations on other possibilities “to help the colleges improve the quality of education”. But these will remain mere suggestions unless the UGC lends an ear to its autonomous body.

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