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NAAC halts grading for 30 institutes amid grade inflation concerns; 6 colleges face reduced grades

The issue of grade inflation first came to light in March 2023 when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) criticized NAAC for "glaring discrepancies" in its assessment process, highlighting concerns about the standards being followed by the council.

NAAC halts grading for 30 institutes amid grade inflation concerns; 6 colleges face reduced grades snt
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First Published Jan 15, 2024, 11:32 AM IST

In a significant development, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has temporarily suspended the grading process for around 30 institutes across the country, following an inexplicable jump in grades between two accreditation cycles separated by five years. The move comes after a critical review by NAAC, revealing discrepancies in the assessment process and leading to the reduction of grades for six colleges, indicating possible inflation in their earlier assessment.

The issue of grade inflation first came to light in March 2023 when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) criticized NAAC for "glaring discrepancies" in its assessment process, highlighting concerns about the standards being followed by the council.

NAAC director Ganesan Kannabiran explained that a significant number of higher education institutes (HEIs) were subjected to re-DVV (data validation and verification) or revisit processes. He mentioned that approximately 30 HEIs experienced grade jumps, with two institutes in the western region witnessing five jumps (from B to A++ and C to A+) in just two cycles.

Revisit involves sending a new team to campuses to validate the scores awarded by the earlier assessment team. This process aims to ensure the accuracy of assessments and address any discrepancies that may have led to grade inflation.

Professor Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman of NAAC's executive committee, told TOI, "It is generally expected that HEIs are likely to improve their performance over two consecutive cycles. However, if the increase is significant, the standing committee recommends a re-DVV or revisit in order to ensure correctness of the assessment."

“Initially, an internal team reviews the assessment and offers inputs to the standing committee to make a final decision. In such cases, the assessments are being carried out by a different partner or a pear-team as per the requirement," he added.

Following a series of media reports in 2023 highlighting the issue of grade inflation in institutes across India, NAAC acknowledged the problem of "inflated" grades. The council set up a committee to investigate how scores of many Indian higher education institutions (HEIs) were inflated.

The repercussions of grade inflation are evident in the current status of accredited universities in India, where 140, or one in three, hold an A grade. Of these, 42 universities boast an impressive A++, and eight private and deemed universities have received higher scores from NAAC than the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, which traditionally holds the top position in national rankings.

As NAAC takes proactive measures to address grade inflation and ensure the integrity of the accreditation process, the higher education landscape in India undergoes scrutiny, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability in assessments that impact the reputation and standing of educational institutions.

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