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  • Writer's pictureParag Diwan

NAAC Accreditation Revamp: Early indicators and how HEI can gain an early mover advantage

NAAC (NATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION COUNCIL

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous body tasked with assessing and accrediting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in India.  Taking cognizance of the changing trends in higher education, aligning the reforms, and rapidly transforming the global education scenario, NAAC has recently initiated a revamp of its accreditation process.  The revamp is based on the inputs from the stakeholders’ feedback, best practices in assessment and accreditation at national and international levels, and based on the recommendations of the overarching committee constituted by the Department of Higher Education under the chairmanship of Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Kanpur.               


NAAC accreditation revamp includes a shift towards outcome-based assessment, greater emphasis on research and innovation, integration of technology-enabled learning methodologies, and increased focus on holistic student development. The NAAC’s accreditation revamp is aligned to the National Education Policy 2020 and Sustainable Development Goals 2030.  The NAAC’s endeavour is now to create a robust system of accreditation based on the principles of transparency, self-disclosure, mentoring, incubation, and ongoing qualitative improvement leading to assessment and accreditation in a binary mode.


Indicators of the Revamped NAAC Framework


Focus on Learning Outcomes: 

The emphasis has shifted from inputs (infrastructure, faculty qualifications) to assessing student learning outcomes. This aligns with international best practices and ensures graduates possess the necessary skills for employability.


Holistic Assessment: 

The framework encompasses a broader range of parameters beyond academics, including student support services, research output, industry collaboration, and social impact. This necessitates a more holistic approach to institutional development.


Data-Driven Approach:

Accreditation shall become increasingly data-driven, relying on institutional data repositories and learning management systems for verification. HEIs will need to strengthen their data collection and analysis capabilities.


Tiered Accreditation System: 

A tiered accreditation system, with varying levels reflecting institutional excellence, has been introduced. This will incentivize continuous improvement and provide a clearer picture of institutional standing.


Periodic Reviews and Continuous Improvement:

The accreditation process shall transit from a one-time assessment to periodic reviews, fostering a culture of continuous improvement within HEIs.



Preparing for the New NAAC Accreditation Process


HEIs can now leverage these indicators to proactively prepare for the revised accreditation process and gain a competitive edge in the higher education landscape.  To position themselves strategically for an early mover advantage, the HEIs should:


Review and Revise Learning Outcomes:

HEIs should revisit their learning outcomes, ensuring they are measurable, aligned with program objectives, and relevant to industry needs. HEIs should consider incorporating frameworks like Bloom's Taxonomy to define desired learning levels.


While reviewing the learning outcomes, the HEIs can consider the acronym SMART to determine whether they have framed effective learning outcomes.  The learning outcomes should be Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Time Bound.  It is important that the learning outcomes are well communicated to the students.

 

Strengthen Student Assessment Practices:

Move beyond traditional exams and incorporate diverse assessment methods like portfolios, projects, and rubrics to comprehensively evaluate student learning. The HEIs should consider the learning-oriented assessment which encourages students to become involved in the assessment process.

 

Develop a Culture of Data Collection and Analysis:

Establish robust systems for collecting and analysing institutional data related to student enrolment, learning outcomes, placements, research output, and alumni feedback.


An effective data analytical strategy needs to be created to understand the long-term strategy of the institution’s growth and shall help the HEIs to develop their Institutional Development Plan.

 

Embrace Technology enables learning methodologies:

HEIs should embrace technology-driven learning methodologies to enhance pedagogical effectiveness and accessibility implementing online platforms, virtual labs, and blended learning approaches can augment the educational experience for students and facilitate flexible learning pathways. 


The HEIs should adopt appropriate policies, strengthen technology infrastructure, build the capacities of the faculty, and help the learners to take advantage of the available technology and Open Educational Resources (OER) for learning and simultaneously undertake a rigorous approach for the assessment and evaluation of technology-enabled learning.

 

Focus on Employability Skills:

Integrate employability skills development into the curriculum, including communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and digital literacy. Partner with industry leaders to identify in-demand skills and tailor programs accordingly.

 

Digital skills such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, and Big Data
Soft skills that will help strengthen and expand self-management attributes such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
Communication and Presentation Skills which will lead to clarity in expression
Meta skills: Develop cognitive skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, innovation, etc.
Technical skills: these shall be role-specific competencies

 

Enhance Student Support Services:

Invest in student support services like career counselling, mental health resources, and disability support to create a holistic learning environment that fosters student success.

 

Promote Research and Innovation:

HEIs should prioritize research and innovation to meet the evolving needs of academia and industry.  HEIs should establish research centres, foster inter-disciplinary collaborations, and promote industry partnerships which will enhance the research eco-systems within the HEIs thereby contributing to knowledge creation.

 

Embrace Industry Collaboration:

Establish strong linkages with industry partners through internships, guest lectures, and joint research initiatives. This not only benefits students with practical exposure but also strengthens the institution's industry relevance.

 

Focus on Social Impact:

Integrate social responsibility into the curriculum and encourage student participation in community outreach programs. This fosters social awareness and a sense of civic engagement among graduates.

 

To capitalise on the early indicators of the NAAC accreditation revamp and gain an early mover advantage, HEIs should adopt a proactive approach toward accreditation readiness. This entails conducting internal assessments to identify areas for improvement, engaging stakeholders in the accreditation process, and investing in faculty development initiatives to enhance teaching and research capabilities.

 

Furthermore, HEIs should leverage data analytics and benchmarking to track progress toward accreditation goals and identify best practices for emulation. Collaborating with peer institutions, participating in accreditation workshops, and seeking guidance from accreditation consultants can also facilitate accreditation readiness and ensure alignment with the revamped criteria.


Conclusion


In conclusion, the NAAC accreditation revamp presents HEIs with early indicators of impending changes in accreditation standards and criteria. By proactively preparing for these changes and aligning their educational practices with the revised criteria, HEIs can position themselves strategically for an early-mover advantage in the accreditation process. Embracing outcome-based assessment, promoting research and innovation, integrating technology-enabled learning, and prioritising holistic student development are key strategies for accreditation readiness and success in the evolving higher education landscape.


Paradigm Consultants can be a support to institutions who would like to avail the opportunity of applying to NAAC under the old scheme of accreditation till the month of June 2024. Paradigm Consultants can conduct the Academic and Administrative Audit (AAA) as mandated by NAAC. Also, for those institutions who would apply under the maturity-based graded levels scheme of NAAC, Paradigm can assess their educational practices in line with the revised criteria, and help them create an assessment readiness roadmap.

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