Over past years having worked with various higher educational institution (HEI) of different streams and sizes pan India I am trying to understand their quality standards and how we can contribute in transformational changes for improving it further. During the process of engaging with them we start with keeping quality frameworks from various accreditation bodies as reference point and use technology to help, study organization structure and processes adapted by them and to perform GAP analysis. We engage with various stakeholders of institution at different levels to understand their challenges and how same could be addressed effectively. This article and following series which I intend to write is to express my opinion and observation on same and engage in discussion with academicians / policy makers and others on their point of view.
One of the objective of Human Resource Development is to tap vast potential of young youth available in India by improving Human development Index, hence Government of India (GOI) wants to double Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for higher education to achieve this objective. As GOI is encouraging student enrolment it is tightening the noose across higher education to improve its quality since it is a signatory of Washington Accord. UGC and AICTE (two autonomous bodies of GOI) have come out with NAAC and NBA accreditation guidelines respectively and have made them mandatory. Quality frameworks such as NAAC and NBA tries to take an holistic approach (so they claim) towards quality by providing measurement criteria across institution and program respectively on various parameters.
Increasing GER and raising the quality in education are dependent on various other factors and policies of Government, some of them are kind of counterproductive in my opinion and are in turn a challenge for HEI.
Challenges of HEI
Intake Vs Sanctioned seats ratio
AICTE has directed all institutions affiliated under it to get at least 60% of their professional programs NBA accreditation. Now when an institute wishes to get this done as per direction for one or few programs it offers, it fails pre-qualification of NBA based on student intake ratio against sanctioned seats and hence cannot apply for it. Now to become eligible one way out is to surrender program (time consuming) with poor intake without giving HEI a chance to revive it. I fail to understand why should intake ratio be a pre-qualifiers for quality accreditation. Shouldn't this be questioned ? Even if possible explanation exists for this - NBA is for an individual program and this pre-qualification should be based only for that program and not take into consideration the overall institution intake ratio. There are already financial implication in-terms of operating cost for institution with lower intake and these pre-qualifiers make it even more difficult for them but to shut down the program to fall in line with compliances.
Contrary lesser intake means better faculty to student ratio since faculty count is based on sanctioned seats and as per AICTE norms and not on intake. So doesn't this means better student engagement because of higher faculty to student ratio (one of measurement criteria for quality).
Bihar Government and few other State Government to encourage higher education came up with a scheme to provide educational credit card with credit limit of up to Four lacs Rupees for each student. This had a very positive impact in terms of enhancing GER until last year. This academic year however it added a pre-condition for students to avail this scheme they have to seek admissions only in institution with NAAC "A" or above grade. This has reversed the initial intent; many students have withdrawn their admission as the institution doesn't have required grade and these HEI's have lost significant admissions and intake adding to their woes. Policies are framed to enhance and or better life, in this particular scenario it reverses the very intend of why it is being done.
Change is not easy and decisions are made keeping long term views in mind based on scientific or desired outcome. It is not necessary all decisions yield positive results but corrective measures needs to be put in place when we know things are not as per plans. I hope and wish steps taken to rectify some of these issues is taken before it is too late and forcing HEI to shut their services without giving them a chance to revive, survive and thrive.