The number of institutions graded by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) has fallen considerably diluting the efforts of the state government to improve it for the past decade.
Bihar now has only 34 accredited colleges and two universities, the data available with the state higher education council (SHEC) revealed.
The number of NAAC accredited institutions had reached 139 a couple of years ago, but officials said that indifference of several institutions to get it revalidated timely and timely submission of the self-study report (SSR) during the Covid-19 pandemic led to the many losing their grades.
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However, these institutions can submit the SSR latest by December 31, 2022.
Among the seven colleges graded A earlier, only two – Patna Women’s College and St Xavier’s College – have remained in the category and their validity will expire on December 31, 2023.
For AN College, the validity expired on October 29, 2022 while for College of Commerce, Arts & Science, the validity had expired last year, but it was revalidated up to October 2022 in view of Covid-19 pandemic after the institution applied for it.
The accreditation of Millat Training College also expired on June 8, 2022.
Of just two universities that remain accredited with NAAC against seven earlier, one is the Chanakya National Law University (CNLU) and the other is Patna University (PU), which was graded for the first time three years ago.
However, some universities could never get NAAC accreditation, while those who had got it earlier could not get it revalidated.
“There was a meeting of NAAC in Bangalore on November 10 and we plan to initiate fresh and targeted efforts in the light of the outcome of that meeting. A meeting of all VCs was called on November 22 by additional chief secretary (education) Dipak Kumar Singh to discuss the way ahead. We hope to get at least one most suitable institution accredited in every district, and later phase wise it would be scaled up,” said NK Agarwal, academic advisor to the state higher education council (SHEC).
The additional chief secretary (education) said the state government was committed to getting all the institutions accredited in a phase-wise manner, as it was a basic requirement now to avail many benefits.
“A meeting of state VCs and principals with a team of NAAC Bangalore is also under consideration to discuss the state’s roadmap and do whatever is required for the purpose. The institutions must take initiative and work on short-term, mid-term and long-term plan. For e-library, an agreement will also be signed with Inflibnet,” he added.
However, while several states release state level analysis of accredited higher education institutions on a yearly basis, Bihar’s falling number is a matter of concern.
Under the new education policy (NEP), accreditation is a basic requirement, linked to funding.
NAAC has decided to align the assessment and accreditation process in higher education with the NEP and Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Since 2013, as the Centre linked accreditation as a mandatory requirement for (Rashtriya Uchchtar Shiksha Abhiyan) RUSA funding, there was a rush by institutions to get accredited, but Bihar remained slow on this count despite the fact that all institutions have to get accredited by 2022.
“The lukewarm response in the state is because many institutions here got poor grades in the past due to severe shortage of teachers, poor student feedback, inadequate infrastructure, missing extra-curricular activities, lack of research, erratic classes and late academic sessions, absence from the National Institutional Framework Ranking (NIRF) and missing choice-based credit system (CBCS),” said a senior official of the SHEC.
SHEC vice chairman Kameshwar Jha said a committee formed to address the accreditation issue last year had submitted its detailed report about the go ahead and that would need to be followed to reverse the discouraging trend.
“It is unfortunate that the institutions are not showing any interest and the numbers have dropped so much. It will affect their funding in future. What is worse, 95% of the colleges don’t have regular principals and the leadership both the university level or the college level is mostly missing to take it forward. Principals and VCs, besides incumbents to other key positions, holdings additional charge doesn’t do any good. In the past too, NAAC director and teams from there visited Bihar to encourage colleges and universities for accreditation, but not much improved despite constant prodding,” he added.