Tuesday, May 03, 2005
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BUSY SEASON: The demand for a college seat continues unabated as this picture of students lining up to buy application forms at Ethiraj College, Chennai shows. Students have an important role, as much as teachers, in ensuring quality of higher educa tion, say experts Photo: K. Pichumani
CHENNAI: The State must provide more resources for higher education if its quality is to improve, said V.S. Prasad, Director of National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bangalore.
Addressing teachers and students at Kattankulathur near Chennai on Monday, Prof. Prasad said many colleges were understaffed and lacked sufficient staff development activities. Having competent faculty was a critical variable in making an institution a "great institution", he said.
Stressing the need for government colleges to be given more freedom, he said, "The Government must treat them as autonomous bodies and refrain from intervening in day-to-day bodies." The NAAC, an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission, recently submitted a report with these recommendations to the Tamil Nadu Government . Similar reports had been submitted in other States that have many colleges. "We have requested active participation of the State in promoting quality higher education," Prof. Prasad said.
Eighteen States have established State-level quality assurance cells. While the cream of Indian institutions could match the best in the world, the average institution in India was below world standards. The bulk of higher education institutions fell in the average and below average categories, Prof. Prasad said while addressing a meeting at SRM Deemed University.
Students and staff need to be actively involved in quality processes. "A `good student' is one who goes to class regularly, takes notes sincerely and does his or her homework. But a good student must also take active part in the pedagogical process, by discussing methods of teaching, questioning the quality of teaching and giving feedback and suggestions."
The NAAC was currently evaluating about 20 institutions in Tamil Nadu for accreditation. It had already assessed more than 100 colleges in the State.
"Quality is a process of continuous improvement, nothing but making the education relevant," said Prof. Prasad. Once they receive accreditation, institutions must set up an internal quality assessment cell and prepare annual quality reports. "We are not looking at a market approach to quality, we believe quality has an intrinsic value," he said.
The NAAC's assessment is based on a self-study assessment report, where the institution evaluates itself vis-a-vis five core values and seven criteria. The report is then validated by a peer team from other institutions. Unlike other bodies, such as the All-India Council for Technical Education or the National Board of Accreditation, the NAAC does not have regulatory powers.
Prof. Prasad urged credible institutions to launch distance education programmes. In doing so, they will be serving a social cause, he said.
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