Ranking Framework for Universities released under NIRF

Ranking Framework for Universities released under NIRF

After releasing the Framework for Engineering Institutions on the day of launch of National Institutional Framework by MHRD, followed by Ranking Framework for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions, MHRD has now released the framework for Universities and colleges.

India has a complex University / College Structure. Though UGC Act, 1956 defines University, as one established and incorporated under Central / State law, however it also empowers MHRD to recognize certain Institutions as Deemed University. This legislative provisions has ensured that we have Central and State Universities, which are funded / aided by Government. India also has Private and Deemed-to-be-Universities. The Central, Private and Deemed Universities are generally Unitary in character with schools in many disciplines, each of which individually offers all levels of degree programs: from Bachelor’s to the Doctoral. The State Universities are “affiliating” in character where there are several colleges, both undergraduate and post graduate colleges leading to a Bachelor’s / Master’s degrees (and some times Diplomas) in a variety of disciplines like Sciences, Arts, Engineering and others.

UGC, which is the regulator for Universities with a larger objective to improve ranking of Indian universities in World University Rankings appointed Expert Committee for developing a ranking system for colleges and universities based on National Institutional Ranking Framework developed by the Core Committee appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

UGC in recent communication to the Educational Institutions had urged the Vice Chancellors for personal indulgence and asked them to register their universities on NIRF portal and provide data as per the instructions. Universities were also requested to direct the colleges affiliated to the University to register, so that the national ranking could be made available to the students from the next academic session.

UGC highlighting the importance of participation in the Ranking Framework process said, “You may agree that providing the best learning experience in the ideal environment is the ultimate objective of every higher learning institution. The objective becomes all the more highlighted when institutions are constantly adjudged on the basis of excellence in teaching and learning, excellence in research, innovations and excellence in management. With regards to this, Ministry of Human Resource Development has come up with National Institute Ranking Framework for universities and colleges, which will evaluate them on quantifiable parameters leading to ranking of institutions”.

The National Institutional Ranking Framework [NIRF] outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions. The parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”.

NIRF is projected to enable parents, students, teachers, educational institutions and other stakeholders to rank institutions on basis of set objectives, in a transparent process.

EduLegaL View:

The Framework has come with clarification by way of statement, “ Thousands of institutions would volunteer themselves to the ranking exercise with an aim to assess themselves on the qualitative parameters…”

This is good, as till now it was appearing, as it was another mandatory participating process, burdening the Institutions. Now the Institutions can take a long breath. But the question is, will any Institutions even dare to ignore this “voluntary” request.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in


From old NAAC to new NIRF – Warning to avoid fraudsters continues

Earlier, it was NAAC which had issued warning / caution notice cautioning the Institutions, from getting trapped by unauthorized agencies, which claim to impart tricks for getting A grade, preparing SSRs and also making up deficiencies.

The newly launched National Institutional Ranking Framework [NIRF] it seems has also met the same fate. MHRD within few weeks of its launch has issued a strong caution notice to the Institution to avoid tricksters.

MHRD in its release has mentioned that it has received information that some private companies have started conducting training programmes and workshops on NIRF charging exorbitant amount as registration fee.

MHRD has clarified that NIRF has no association with any of these private companies. It has also informed the stake holders that NIRF portal hosts detailed documentation consisting of NIRF reports on various categories of institutions, help manuals, FAQ, etc. that would help institutions and organisations to understand methodologies for providing data required for ranking of universities.

Failed by Tandon Committee, passed by NAAC

Finally, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)  has brought some good news to several students of 38 Deemed Universities, which were sought to be de-recognised on the basis of the Tandon Committee report, as NAAC has assessed and graded these Deemed Universities after assessment by a robust scientific procedure.

In the year 2006, one Viplav Sharma, had filed a PIL in Supreme Court challenging the manner in which Deemed University status was granted to the Institutions u/s 3 of UGC Act, 1956. During the course of proceedings, MHRD had appointed a Committee headed by Dr. P N Tandon to review the  functioning of the Deemed Universities in  India.

In October 2009, a committee of experts, headed by PN Tandon, reviewed deemed universities and classified those under three categories, firstly 38 deemed universities which justified their continuation, second 44 deemed universities which needed to rectify deficiencies over a three year period and thirdly another 44 deemed universities which the committee felt don’t have the quality to continue the status and were recommended to de-recognised.

These 44 Deemed Universities then rushed to Supreme Court challenging the findings of the Tandon Committee and also the legality / validity of appointment of Tandon Committee. The case then continued for next 6 years, with clod looming large on the existence of these Deemed Universities.

The Supreme Court in the year 2014 without setting aside the Tandon Committee had asked UGC to consider the Reports and submits its own findings. Later, UGC was also taken to task by the Supreme Court for the manner in which it assessed the Deemed Universities, which was similar to that of Tandon Committee.


Eventually vide its Order dated 23.04.2015, SC had directed the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to decide within two weeks the matter of accreditation of deemed universities, who were placed under category ‘C’ by the P N Tandon committee and were recommended for de-recognition of deemed status.

The direction of the Apex Court was significant in light go the fact that NAAC Executive Committee on January 5, 2013 that the council shall not assess and accredit the deemed universities whose cases are pending before the Supreme Court and will wait for the court’s decision.  The time for assessment and accreditation was extended from time to time on request by NAAC.

Finally on 08.09.2015, in a significant order, Supreme Court exempted the Deemed Universities to making a statement of compliance in respect of UGC [ Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, as the validity and legality of the Regulations was under challenge before judicial forums.

Resultantly, the C Category Deemed Universities submitted themselves to the process of assessment and accreditation. NAAC assesses Institutions on seven criteria as part of the assessment procedures:   1] Curricular Aspects;  2] Teaching-Learning and Evaluation 3] Research, Consultancy and Extension 4] Infrastructure and Learning Resources 5] Student Support and Progression 6] Governance, Leadership and Management 7] Innovations and Best Practices.

Institutions are graded for each Key Aspect under four categories, viz. A, B, C and D, denoting Very good, Good, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory levels respectively. The summated score for all the Key Aspects under a Criterion is then calculated with the appropriate weightage applied to it and the GPA is worked out for the Criterion. The Cumulative GPA (CGPA), which gives the final Assessment Outcome, is then calculated from the seven GPAs pertaining to the seven criteria, after applying the prescribed weightage to each Criterion.

On the last hearing on 19.11.2015, the Court was informed that accreditation process has been completed. The Court then directed NAAC to publish the gradation result on its website.

In compliance of the order, NAAC has published the accreditation result of the Deemed Universities.

17 out of 38 Deemed Universities, which were recommended to be de-recognised by Tandon Committee has secured Grade “A”. 20 Universities have achieved Grade “B” and One University has been awarded “C” Grade.

EduLegal View:  

This conclusively proves that the “drawing room” method of out-sourced assessment by Tandon Committee was completely flawed. Eventually, the law of the country prevailed and Institutions have been given justice after long tiring struggle of 6 years.

In true words, meaning, mandate and manifestation of law and supremacy of a regulator has been achieved.

Ranking Framework released for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions

AICTE, under the aegis of MHRD has released the Parameters and Metrics for Ranking for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions as part of the National Institutional Ranking Framework.

Earlier, MHRD vide Notification dated 09.10.2014, MHRD had constituted a Committee to suggest a National Framework for performance measurement and ranking of Institutions and Programmes conducted by the Institutions. The Committee was also asked to suggest organizational structure, institutional mechanism and processes for implementation along with time-lines of the National Ranking Framework.

The Committee was of the view that a single ranking framework for complex and diverse education scenario of institutions, as exist in India would be counter productive and meaningless. Hence it decided to follow apple-to-apple approach and proceeded to design a framework in which institutions belonging to different sectoral fields, such as Engineering, Management, etc. should be compared separately in their own respective peer groups. Comprehensive universities, which encompass a large number of academic programs including Arts, Humanities, Sciences etc., should similarly form a separate peer group for comparison. Resultantly, it decided to release Ranking Framework, Parameters and Metrics separately for each category of Institutions.

MHRD then formally, on 29.09.2015 launched the National Institutional Ranking Framework and also released the Parameters and Metrics for Engineering and Management Institutions.

Recently, AICTE, the regulator for Architecture and Pharmacy Education in India has released Parameters and Metrics for Ranking for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions. The Framework provides that for the purpose of Ranking the Institutions will be divided two categories, first being engaged in Research and Teaching and second being engaged primarily in Teaching.

The Institutions will be assessed and ranked under five broad headings: (1) Teaching, Learning and Resources; (2) Research, Consulting and Collaborative Performance; (3) Graduation Outcomes; (4) Outreach and Inclusivity and (5) Perception.

MHRD has also rolled out participation in Ranking Framework for the Institutions, which are accredited/affiliated to the AICTE/UGC and has also made available a web-based platform the same. The process of submission and participation in the framework has begun from 2nd November 2015.

EduLegaL View:

I have always said that there exists body for assessment and accreditation in this country, like NAAC and NBA and hence MHRD should have attempted to integrate these processes instead of creating separate framework.

A closer look at the term of reference of the Committee, which designed this Framework, also includes, “Suggest linkages with NAAC and NBA, if any.”, as one of the terms of reference. I wonder what has happened to this term of reference.

The Administrators must understand that burdening educational institutions with continued and different assessment is not going to add to their quality, but will reduce their quality.

So where are we going? What are we trying to achieve?


NAAC warns Institutions to refrain from Plagiarism in SSR

National Assessment and Accreditation Council [NAAC] taking cognizance of complaints regarding “made up” informations and contents in Self Study Report submitted by the Institutions has warned the Institutions to refrain from venturing into plagiarism.

NAAC in recent past has taken several steps to strengthen the process of Assessment and Accreditation [A&A], which includes compulsory video recording of visits of the Peer Team to the Institutions. It had also issued cautionary Public Notice warning the Institutions about some mischievous agencies, which were conducting workshops claiming assistance in getting Grade “A” and helping in preparing SSR by making up data and contents.

The Revised Procedure of Assessment and Accreditation now involves submitting Letter of Intent (LOI) after uploading the Self-study Report (SSR) on the institutional website. Upon acceptance of LOI, the institution has to submit the SSR within two weeks and thereafter Peer Team visits for the purpose of Assessment followed by the declaration of Accreditation.

NAAC has developed different manuals which provide information on how the self-study report (SSR) is to be prepared, the criteria and key aspects to be addressed and the style of presentation. Still, SSR Preparation it seems has developed as big market and so called experts are helping in preparation and sale of SSRs for a big sum, with colleges ready to bear and cover these expenses.

SSR is the most critical document for the purpose of accreditation. It is like an answer sheet. It contains the vision and mission statement of the Institution, its strengths, infrastructure, facilities and amenities. It also draws the future plan of Institutions. NAAC has found that some Institutions are copying contents from SSR, which are available on the website of participating institutions and passing it as their own.

Considering the importance of SSR in process of Assessment and Accreditation and continuing with the cleansing measure, NAAC after receiving complaints regarding unfair practices of Plagiarism adopted by institutions in the preparation of the self-study report has therefore requested the Institutions to ensure that all claims made in the self-study report are validated prior to its submission to NAAC.

It has also resolved and sent a strong message that any institution indulging in any unfair practice will be debarred from applying for accreditation.

Being debarred from applying for accreditation will mean havoc for erring Institution, as under the UGC (Mandatory Assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, which makes it mandatory for educational institutions to participate in accreditation process, any Institution which is not participating in process of Accreditation will be subject to punitive measures, which may include withholding of grant, revocation of affiliation.

EduLegal View

Before, I give my view, please know that one of the questions in the SSR to be submitted by the Institution is as follows:

3.4.6 What is the official policy of the university to check malpractices and plagiarism in research? Mention the number of plagiarism cases reported and action taken.

It is ironical that the erring participating Institution, which would obviously speak epics in answering the question, would indulge in plagiarism.

Plagiarism is like a sin, it is an act of fraud, and it is an Intellectual Theft and must be dealt with strongly. It is utter violation of institutional and academic ethics. Laws are inadequate to deal with these situations. It has been handled by executive orders. Even the UGC Accreditation Regulations, 2012 does not have any express provision for the same. It is high time that Centre must bring in effective law to deal with malpractices and unfair trade practices in educational institutions.

“HOW TO GET GRADE “A” in NAAC WORKSHOPS”, NAAC cautions Institutions

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has warned the academic community to be cautious about the false and misleading advertisements by some agencies / organizations, who are organizing and also publicizing many such workshop, with the headline “HOW TO GET GRADE “A” in NAAC”.

NAAC has also come to learn that in these workshops, the agencies promise to render services / expertise in SSR preparations to be submitted to NAAC, useful tips to achieve goods, making up some deficiencies by ad-hoc arrangements. Their claim reaches optimum when they say they will facilitate NAAC Visits and interaction with NAAC Officials.

NAAC Director has come out with strong clarification and has requested Institutions from entering into any transaction with such persons or attend their workshops / programmes. Director, NAAC has further clarified that NAAC has not authorized any agency / organization to conduct such workshop. It has also given any consent to any organization to provide services for preparing SSR and presentations during NAAC visit.

He has further clarified that NAAC Assessment and Accreditation process is completely transparent and assessment is purely based on performance of the Institution on the Seven Criteria.

NAAC is an autonomous Institutions of University Grants Commission (UGC), to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country.

Assessment and Accreditation is broadly used for understanding the “Quality Status” of an institution. In the context of Higher Education, the accreditation status indicates that the particular Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) – meets the standards of quality, in terms of its performance, related to the educational processes and outcomes, covering the curriculum, teaching-learning, evaluation, faculty, research, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well being and student services.

EduLegal View:

In the year 2012, UGC has notified UGC (Mandatory Assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, which makes it mandatory for educational institutions to participate in accreditation process. It also provides for punitive measures if the Institutions fail to participate in the process, like withholding of grant, revocation of affiliation.

In our country, with “compulsion” comes the “corruption” and such activities are routine. False and Misleading Advertisement is really hitting the education sector and it is high time that regulators should frame strict laws to deal with such situation. These advertisements are actually killing the system.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

National Ranking Framework Process to start from 2nd November

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has been launched by Ministry of Human Resource Development [MHRD] to rank higher educational institutions in the country based on objective, verifiable criteria. The ranking system is expected to promote excellence in education in a competitive environment.

This Framework (NIRF) would enable parents, students, teachers, educational institutions and other stakeholders to rank institutions on the basis of a set of objective parameters and a transparent process.

The ranking framework is designed such that institutions belonging to different sectoral fields such as Engineering, Management etc. will be compared separately in their own respective peer groups. The framework will evaluate institutions on five parameters—teaching, learning and resources (TLR); research, professional practice and collaborative performance (RPC); graduation outcome (GO); outreach and inclusivity (OI); and perception (PR) of end users. Each of these has been further subdivided to comprehensively assess an institute.

Teaching, Learning & Resources: These parameters are related to the core activities of any place of learning. These are organized into the following sub-parameters: Faculty Student Ratio. Faculty Qualifications and Experience. Library, Laboratory Facilities, Facilities for Sports and Extra-Curricular Activities.

 Research, Professional Practice & Collaborative Performance: These parameters, therefore, attempt to measure the quantity and quality of research output as seen through international data bases, IPR generation and interface with industry and fellow professionals. These are organized as follows: Peer-Reviewed Publications. Citations of Research. IPR and Patents. Collaborative Work. Research Funding and Consulting.

 Graduation Outcomes: This parameter forms the ultimate test of the effectiveness of the core teaching/learning activity. These are organized as follows: Public and University Examinations, Placement, Higher Studies and Entrepreneurship. Mean Compensation Package.

 Outreach: The Ranking framework lays special emphasis on representation of women and socially challenged persons in student and/or faculty populations, and also on outreach activities of the institution. These are detailed below: Outreach, Region Diversity, Representation of Women, Socially Challenged Students, Facilities for Physically Challenged Students.

Perception: The ranking methodology gives a significant importance to the perception of the institution by its stakeholders. This will be accomplished through Stakeholder Surveys.

After the launch of the Framework, the Government has now started the process of participation of the Institution in the Framework for the Institutions, which are accredited/affiliated to the AICTE/UGC and has also made available a web-based platform the same. The process of submission and participation in the framework would begin from 2nd November 2015.

 EduLegaL View:

Our Higher Education System currently has NAAC and NBA as Accreditation Agency, which evaluates institutions on scientific parameters. Here comes another Ranking Parameter and Process.

Another sort of burden on the Higher Education System. Instead of developing new framework, it would have been more prudent to strengthen and consolidate the existing system of Accreditation. The CGPA achieved on Accreditation can also be used to create Rankings within the Institutions rather than asking the Institutions to participate in a new process. Government could have added parameters as given in this Framework in the existing process of accreditation.

Well the Argument continues !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in | + 91 9225518255