The University Grants Commission (UGC), established in November 1956 as a statutory body of the Government of India through an Act of Parliament, has the unique distinction of being the only grant-giving agency in the country which has been vested with two responsibilities: that of providing funds and that of coordination, determination and maintenance of standards in institutions of higher
The UGC's mandate includes Promoting and coordinating university education; Determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination and research in Universities; Framing regulations on minimum standards of education; Monitoring developments in the field of collegiate and university education; Disbursing grants to the Universities and Colleges; Serving as a vital link between
the Union and State Governments and institutions of higher learning; Advising the Central and State Governments on the measures necessary for improvement of university education. To monitor standards of the higher educational institutions it has established the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) as an autonomous body, under section 12 (ccc) of its Act in September 1994. NAAC is entrusted with the task of performance evaluation, assessment and accreditation of Universities and Colleges in the Country. The philosophy of NAAC is ameliorative and enabling rather than punitive or judgmental, so that all constituencies of institutions of higher learning are empowered to maximize their resources, opportunities and capabilities.
NAAC has been instilling a momentum of quality consciousness amongst Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs or ‘Institutions’), aiming for continuous improvement. NAAC is triggering a ‘Quality Culture’ among the various constituents of the HEI, as well as enhancing the awareness of Institutional Quality Assurance with all stakeholders.
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. Assessment is a performance evaluation of an HEI and /or its units and is accomplished through a process based on self-study and peer review using defined criteria. Accreditation refers to the certification given by NAAC which is valid for a period of five years. NAAC accredits UGC 2(f) & 12B as well as non 2(f) & 12B HEIs.
All stakeholders have to be fully engaged in the endeavour of quality assurance of the HEIs. Therefore, it is imperative that HEIs are motivated to establish their own internal mechanisms for sustenance, assurance and enhancement of the quality culture of education imparted by them. It is significant that such internalization of quality would be invaluable in the enhancement of quality within the institution. The efficacy of external quality assessment would therefore be determined by the effectiveness of such institutional internal quality systems and processes.
At the instance of NAAC many HEIs have established the Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) as a post accreditation quality sustenance activity. The experience of NAAC reveals that the IQAC in these institutions are proactive and functioning in a healthy way. Based on this success story, from 1st April 2007 onwards NAAC is propagating to have such a mechanism created prior to the accreditation in all the HEIs which would help establishing quality culture in them. The UGC has recognized this initiative and it has taken a policy decision to direct all HEIs to establish IQACs for which it has decided to provide seed financial assistance.