‘Of the 200 private colleges, less than 20 have accreditation’

Even as the Union government is pushing for the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010, private engineering colleges in the State have written to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development against the proposed legislation that makes accreditation compulsory.

The Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering College Association (KUPECA) has, under the umbrella of Educational Promotion Society for India, written to the Ministry suggesting either dropping the Bill or modifying it, Panduranga Setty, secretary of the association, told The Hindu.

As many as 170 of the 200 engineering colleges in the State are members of the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering College Association. The fear of closure of engineering colleges, either due to inadequate infrastructure or because of delay in accreditation, is fuelling the opposition. Many of them are in peril owing to the sharp decline in the number of students.

“Of the 200 engineering colleges, less than 20 have accreditation. Even if they apply, it takes the accreditation agency almost two years to visit the college,” Mr. Setty explained.

According to the Bill, all higher educational institutions should apply to the proposed National Accreditation and Regulatory Authority for accreditation within three years from the commencement of the Act. The agency has to complete the process within 180 days of the application date.

The Educational Promotion Society for India’s argument is that nowhere in the world is non-accreditation treated as a criminal offence. “This Bill provides a penalty of Rs. 10 lakh and imprisonment for two years if an institution does not get accreditation,” the memorandum says.

“We have about 35,000 colleges and 600 universities in the country and it will take a long time for all institutions to get accreditation. Instead, we should motivate the institutions to opt for accreditation rather than punishing them,” the memorandum adds.

College managements point out that the response to the accreditation agencies has been poor. Only 10 varsities and 324 colleges have been accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council from April 2007 to January 2013 in Karnataka. Among these, only a handful are engineering colleges such as the BMS College of Engineering and PES Institute of Technology.

D. Jawahar, CEO of the PES Group of Institutions, said that accreditation should “not only be desirable, but also mandatory”.

“The world over, accreditation is the basis on which colleges are classified. However, now the process is not transparent and the personnel involved are not trained. Colleges should not be forced to be accredited by government agencies. The way the independent body constituted for accreditation is constituted is important,” he said.