Mukesh Kumar (Assistant Professor)
Dronacharya College of Education, Rait Kangra (H.P.)
E.mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustaining quality in higher education is a growing concern not only in India but all over the world. The quality initiatives focusing on continuous improvement of processes, products and services, through efficient and effective management of higher education, have been drawing special attention of the policy-makers and the practitioners in the wider field of higher education throughout the globe. The University Grant Commission (UGC) established the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 1994 at Bangalore. The prime agenda of NAAC is to Assess and Accredit institutions of higher learning with an objective of helping them to work continuously to improve the quality of education. In pursuance of its Action Plan for performance evaluation, assessment and accreditation and quality up-gradation of institutions of higher education, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore proposes that every accredited institution should establish an Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) as a post-accreditation quality sustenance measure. Since quality enhancement is a continuous process, the IQAC will become a part of the institution’s system and work towards realisation of the goals of quality enhancement and sustenance. This paper gives a brief review of current Indian higher education system and the overall role of IQAC in improving quality education in higher educational institutions (HEIs).
Key words: Quality Sustenance, NAAC, IQAC, UGC, Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs)
In the present era of knowledge-driven economic scenario, every country in the world is always planning to improve the quality of their human resources with the support of the most successful and vibrant economic policies in terms of Liberalization, Privatization, globalization (LPG). India’s higher education is the third largest in the world. For the purpose of improving the quality of human resources, the HEIs in India have been playing a prominent role in developing the knowledge community or societies and the Modern Knowledge Hub of World. The overall quality of higher education is the main concern in policy framing and for that it has been made mandatory to obtain accreditation of higher education institutions (HEIs) by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to improve quality. Many HEIs have been completed and are in process of the first cycle of accreditation in the state and country. Maintaining quality is a matter of long term initiative; to reach this long-term goal, NAAC has established detailed guidelines from time to time. The establishment of Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) by accredited institutions (after the first cycle) is a major step in pushing long-term quality standards. IQAC in any institution is a significant administrative body responsible for all quality matters. It is the prime responsibility of IQAC to initiate, plan and supervise various activities which are necessary to increase the quality of the education imparted in institutions and colleges. It can promote and determine quality related activities and issues through various programmes and activities such as seminars, workshops, symposia, conferences, panel discussions, role playing exercises, (model) demonstrations, case studies, academic meetings and any such kind of event or programme for all the stakeholders of the institution. The role of IQAC in maintaining quality standards in teaching, learning and evaluation becomes crucial.
II. OBJECTIVES & METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
This paper aims at presenting an overview of IQAC’s (Internal Quality Assurance Cell) its basic purposes, functions, benefits, activities organized by IQAC etc., in the various higher institutions. The concerned data and information is collected from various secondary sources like published journals, research articles, and official websites for the present work.
III. INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM
Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of Universities/University level Institutions & Colleges since Independence. The number of Universities has increased 45 times from 20 in 1950 to 907 as on 31st March, 2019 as per UGC . The sector boasts of 50 Central Universities of which 9 are directly funded by govt. of India and are not under the purview of UGC, 411 State Universities till June 2020, 361 Private universities under UGC consolidated list of universities, 129 Deemed to be Universities, As of 2020 there are 155 Institutions of National Importance (established under Acts of Parliament) under MHRD (IITs – 23, NITs – 31 and IISERs – 7, 15 AIIMs, 25 IIITs, 7 NIPERs, 5 NIPs,3 SPAs, 5 central universities, 4 Medical Research Inst. ,and 10 other speciliased institutes). The number of colleges has also registered manifold increase of 84 times with just 500 in 1950 growing to 49,204, as on 31st March, 2019. At present, the main categories of University/University-level Institutions are :- Central Universities, State Universities, Deemed-to-be Universities and University-level institutions. These are described as follows :
- Central University: A university established or incorporated by a Central Act.
- State University: A university established or incorporated by a Provincial Act or by a State Act.
- Private University: A university established through a State/Central Act by a sponsoring body viz. A Society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, or any other corresponding law for the time being in force in a State or a Public Trust or a Company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
- Deemed-to-be University: An Institution Deemed to be University, commonly known as Deemed University, refers to a high-performing institution, which has been so declared by Central Government under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.
- Institution of National Importance: An Institution established by Act of Parliament and declared as Institution of National Importance.
- Institution under State Legislature Act: An Institution established or incorporated by a State Legislature Act.
Higher Education is the shared responsibility of both the Centre and the States. The coordination and determination of standards in Universities & Colleges is entrusted to the UGC and other statutory regulatory bodies. The Central Government provides grants to the UGC and establishes Central Universities/Institutions of National Importance in the country. The Central Government is also responsible for declaring an educational institution as “Deemed-to-be University” on the recommendations of the UGC.
3.1 MAIN REGULATORY BODIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION
- University Grants Commission (UGC) : The University Grants Commission is a statutory organization established by an Act of Parliament in 1956 for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education. Apart from providing grants to eligible universities and colleges, the Commission also advises the Central and State Governments on the measures which are necessary for the development of Higher Education. It functions from New Delhi as well as its six Regional offices located in Bangalore, Bhopal, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.
- All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) : The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was set up in 1945 as an advisory body and later on in 1987 given the statutory status by an Act of Parliament. The AICTE grants approval for starting new technical institutions, for introduction of new courses and for variation in intake capacity in technical institutions. It also ensures quality development of technical education through accreditation of technical institutions or programmes.The AICTE has its headquarters in New Delhi and seven regional offices located at Kolkata, Chennai, Kanpur, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Bangalore. A new regional office at Hyderabad has been set up and is to be operational soon.
- Council of Architecture (COA) : The Council of Architecture (COA) has been constituted by the Government of India under the provisions of the Architects Act, 1972, enacted by Parliament, which came into force on September 1, 1972. The Act provides for registration of Architects and matters connected therewith. The COA, besides maintaining a Register of Architects, oversees the maintenance of standards, periodically of recognized qualifications under the Act by way of conducting inspection through Committees of Experts.
IV. NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITION COUNCIL (NAAC)
National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous body, has been established by the University Grants Commission in 1994 in pursuance of the recommendations made by the National Policy of Education, 1986 and the Programme of Action (POA), 1992 which lay special emphasis on evaluating the quality of higher education in India. The prime mandate of NAAC, as envisaged in its Memorandum of Association (MoA), is to assess and accredit institutions of higher learning, universities and colleges or one or more of their units, i.e., departments, schools, institutions, programmes, etc. The NAAC functions through its General Council and Executive Committee where educational administrators, policy makers and senior academicians from a cross-section of system of higher education are represented.
Under the new methodology introduced by NAAC w.e.f. 1st April, 2007, the higher education institutions are assessed and accredited by a two-step approach. In the first step, the institution is required to seek ‘Institutional Eligibility for Quality Assessment (IEQA)’ and the second step is the assessment and accreditation of the institute under the grades ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ for accredited institutions; and ‘D’ for those which are not accredited.
NAAC has identified seven (7) essential criteria- i. Curricular aspects, ii. Teaching-learning and evaluation, iii. Research, Consultancy and extension, iv. Infrastructure and learning resources, v. Student support and progression, vi. Governance and leadership and vii. Innovative practices as the basis for its assessment procedure.
V. INTERNAL QUALITY ASSURANCE CELL (IQAC): FOUNDATION OF QUALITY STANDARD & ASSURANCE
5.1 Composition of the IQAC
IQAC may be constituted in every institution under the Chairmanship of the Head of the institution with heads of important academic and administrative units and a few teachers and a few distinguished educationists and representatives of local management and stakeholders.
The composition of the IQAC may be as follows:
- Chairperson: Head of the Institution
- A few senior administrative officers
- Three to eight teachers
- One member from the Management
- One/two nominees from local society, Students and Alumni
- One/two nominees from Employers /Industrialists/stakeholders
- One of the senior teachers as the coordinator/Director of the IQAC
The composition of the IQAC will depend on the size and complexity of the institution. It helps the institutions in planning and monitoring. IQAC also gives stakeholders or beneficiaries a cross-sectional participation in the institution’s quality enhancement activities. The guidelines given here are only indicative and will help the institutions for quality sustenance activities.
The membership of such nominated members shall be for a period of two years. The IQAC should meet at least once in every quarter. The quorum for the meeting shall be two-third of the total number of members. The agenda, minutes and Action Taken Reports are to be documented with official signatures and maintained electronically in a retrievable format.
It is necessary for the members of the IQAC to shoulder the responsibilities of generating and promoting awareness in the institution and to devote time for working out the procedural details. While selecting these members several precautions need to be taken. A few of them are listed below:
- It is advisable to choose persons from various backgrounds who have earned respect for integrity and excellence in their teaching and research. Moreover, they should be aware of the ground realities of the institutional environment. They should be known for their commitment to improving the quality of teaching and learning.
- It would be appropriate to choose as senior administrators, persons in charge of institutional services such as library, computer center, estate, student welfare, administration, academic tasks, examination and planning and development.
- The management representative should be a person who is aware of the institution’s objectives, limitations and strengths and is committed to its improvement. The local society representatives should be of high social standing and should have made significant contributions to society and in particular to education.
The role of coordinator
The role of the coordinator of the IQAC is crucial in ensuring the effective functioning of all the members. The coordinator of the IQAC may be a senior person with expertise in quality aspects. She/he may be a full-time functionary or, to start with, she/he may be a senior academic /administrator entrusted with the IQAC as an additional responsibility. Secretarial assistance may be facilitated by the administration. It is preferable that the coordinator may have sound knowledge about the computer, its various functions and usage for effective communication.
Some of the functions expected of the IQAC are:
- Development and application of quality benchmarks/parameters for various academic and administrative activities of the institution;
- Facilitating the creation of a learner-centric environment conducive to quality education and faculty maturation to adopt the required knowledge and technology for participatory teaching and learning process;
- Arrangement for feedback response from students, parents and other stakeholders on quality-related institutional processes;
- Dissemination of information on various quality parameters of higher education;
- Organization of inter and intra institutional workshops, seminars on quality related themes and promotion of quality circles;
- Documentation of the various programmes /activities leading to quality improvement;
- Acting as a nodal agency of the Institution for coordinating quality-related activities, including adoption and dissemination of best practices;
- Development and maintenance of institutional database through MIS for the purpose of maintaining /enhancing the institutional quality;
- Development of Quality Culture in the institution;
- Preparation of the Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR) as per guidelines and parameters of NAAC, to be submitted to NAAC.
IQAC will facilitate / contribute
- Ensure heightened level of clarity and focus in institutional functioning towards quality enhancement;
- Ensure internalization of the quality culture;
- Ensure enhancement and coordination among various activities of the institution and institutionalize all good practices;
- Provide a sound basis for decision-making to improve institutional functioning;
- Act as a dynamic system for quality changes in HEIs;
- Build an organised methodology of documentation and internal communication.
5.4 Monitoring Mechanism
The institutions need to submit yearly the Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR) to NAAC. A functional Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) and timely submission of Annual Quality Assurance Reports (AQARs) are the Minimum Institutional Requirements (MIR) to volunteer for second, third or subsequent cycle’s accreditation. During the institutional visit the NAAC peer teams will interact with the IQACs to know the progress, functioning as well quality sustenance initiatives undertaken by them.
The Annual Quality Assurance Reports (AQAR) may be the part of the Annual Report. The AQAR shall be approved by the statutory bodies of the HEIs (such as Syndicate, Governing Council/Board) for the follow up action for necessary quality enhancement measures.
The Higher Education Institutions (HEI) shall submit the AQAR regularly to NAAC. The IQACs may create its exclusive window on its institutional website and regularly upload/ report on its activities, as well as for hosting the AQAR.
VI.ROLE OF IQAC AS ESSENTIAL QUALITY SUSTENANCE MEASURE
The most important objective of establishing the IQAC is to ensure that whatever is to be done in the HEI for quality education is to be done efficiently and effectively with high standards. In order to do so, the IQAC has to work out the plan and specify the mechanisms to evaluate the degree to which each of the tasks entrusted with the IQAC is properly performed. It is accepted that, for assuring quality, institutional control is not the be all and end all of everything. Rather, devotion and commitment to improvement are more important. Therefore, in order to do so, the IQAC has to maintain proper balance between the health and growth of the HEI. And all these can be achieved, if the IQAC can manage to establish effective procedures and modalities to collect data and information relating to institutional functioning. Here lies the role of the Coordinator/Director. He/she will make all necessary arrangements to gather the relevant data and information to make the system effective and try to contribute towards quality assurance and quality improvement in the HEI.
Quality assurance is a by-product of ongoing efforts to define the objectives of an institution, to have a work plan to achieve them and to specify the checks and balances to evaluate the degree to which each of the tasks is fulfilled. Hence devotion and commitment to improvement rather than mere institutional control is the basis for devising procedures and instruments for assuring quality. The right balance between the health and growth of an institution needs to be struck to meet the challenges of implementing quality assurance systems, institutions must therefore be ready and willing to adapt, change, and innovate. Quality assurance activities must be clear and transparent and, more importantly, they must be achievable and able to meet customer expectations. When quality assurance systems and procedures are clear and activities well defined, it is only then, that higher education institutions (HEI’s) will be able to meet high quality standards. The IQAC has to ensure that whatever is done in the institution for “education” is done efficiently and effectively with high standards. In order to do this, the IQAC will have to first establish procedures and modalities to collect data and information on various aspects of institutional functioning.
- Guidelines (Revised on 26th September, 2019) for the Creation of the Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) and Submission of Annual Quality Assurance Report (AQAR) by Accredited Institutions
- AK Gupta, R. Goyal, A.K Panjila IQAC : As a Tool of Quality improvement in higher education IJLTET Vol 7 Issue p. 542
- Rudroju. Shyamsundarachary and Ankam Sreenivas November (2017) Role of internal quality assurance cell (IQAC) for quality enhancement in higher education International Research Journal of Human Resources and Social Sciences Volume 4, Issue 11 P 144
- Hegde, et al., (2006). Best Practices in Internal Quality Assurance Cell Activities, NAAC, Bangalore, P.77
- Guidelines for IQAC operations NAAC documents
- Department of Higher Education, India, <http://education.nic.in/sector.asp/>
- Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, <http://education.nic.in/>
- Higher Education in India, http://education.nic.in/higedu.asp/
- Websites : www.ugc.ac.in, www.aicte.in