Throughout the world, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) function in a dynamic environment. The need to expand the system of higher education, the impact of technology on the educational delivery, the increasing private participation in higher education and the impact of globalization (including liberal cross-border and trans-national educational imperatives), have necessitated marked changes in the Indian higher education system. These changes and the consequent shift in values have been taken into cognizance by NAAC while formulating the core values. Accordingly, in order to ensure external and internal validity and credibility, the QA process of NAAC is grounded within a value framework which is suitable and appropriate to the National context.
The accreditation framework of NAAC is thus based on five core values detailed below. (i) Contributing to National Development
Most of the HEIs have a remarkable capacity to adapt to changes and at the same time, pursue the goals and objectives that they have set forth for themselves. Contributing to national development has always been an implicit goal of Indian HEIs. The role of HEIs is significant in human resource development and capacity building of individuals, to cater to the needs of the economy, society and the country as a whole, thereby, contributing to the development of the Nation. Serving the cause of social justice, ensuring equity and increasing access to higher education are a few ways by which HEIs can contribute to the national development. It is therefore appropriate that the Assessment and Accreditation (A&A) process of NAAC looks into the ways HEIs have been responding to and contributing towards national development.
(ii) Fostering Global Competencies among Students
The spiraling developments at the global level also warrant that the NAAC includes in its scope of assessment skill development of students, on par with their counterparts elsewhere in the world. With liberalization and globalization of economic activities, the need to develop skilled human resources of a high caliber is imperative. Consequently, the demand for internationally acceptable standards in higher education is evident. Therefore, the accreditation process of NAAC needs to examine the role of HEIs in preparing the students to achieve core competencies, to face the global challenges successfully. This requires that the HEIs be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial in their approach. Towards achieving this, HEIs may establish collaborations with industries, network with the neighborhood agencies/bodies and foster a closer relationship between the “world of competent-learning” and the “world of skilled work”.
(iii) Inculcating a Value System among Students
Although skill development is crucial to the success of students in the job market, skills are of less value in the absence of appropriate value systems. The HEIs have to shoulder the responsibility of inculcating desirable value systems among students. In a country like India, with cultural pluralities and diversities, it is essential that students imbibe the appropriate values commensurate with social, cultural, economic and environmental realities, at the local, national and universal levels. Whatever be the pluralities and diversities that exist in the country, there is a persisting concern for inculcating the core universal values like truth and righteousness apart from other values emphasized in the various policy documents of the country. The seeds of values such as cooperation and mutual understanding during the early stages of education have to be reiterated and re-emphasized at the higher education also through appropriate learning experiences and opportunities. The NAAC assessment therefore examines how these essential and desirable values are being inculcated in the students, by the HEIs.
(iv) Promoting the Use of Technology
Most of the significant developments that one can observe today can be attributed to the impact of Science and Technology. While the advantages of using modern tools and technological innovations in the day-to-day-life are well recognized, the corresponding changes in the use of new technologies, for teaching learning and governance of HEIs, leaves much to be desired. Technological advancement and innovations in educational transactions have to be undertaken by all HEIs, to make a visible impact on academic development as well as administration. At a time when our educational institutions are expected to perform as good as their global partners, significant technological innovations have to be adopted. Traditional methods of delivering higher education have become less motivating to a large number of students. To keep pace with the developments in other spheres of human endeavor, HEIs have to enrich the learning experiences of their students by providing them with state-of-the-art educational technologies. The campus community must be adequately prepared to make use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) optimally. Conscious effort is also needed to invest in hardware and to orient the faculty suitably.
In addition to using technology as a learning resource, managing the activities of the institution in a technology-enabled way will ensure effective institutional functioning. For example, documentation and data management in the HEIs are areas where the process of assessment by NAAC has made a significant impact. Moving towards electronic data management and having institutional website to provide ready and relevant information to stakeholders are desirable steps in this direction. In other words, effective use of ICT in HEIs will be able to provide ICT literacy to the campus community, using ICT for resource sharing and networking, as well as adopting ICT-enabled administrative processes. Therefore, NAAC accreditation would look at how the HEIs have put in place their electronic data management systems and electronic resources and their access to internal and external stakeholders particularly the student community.
(v) Quest for Excellence
Contributing to nation-building and skills development of students, HEIs should demonstrate a drive to develop themselves into centres of excellence. Excellence in all that they will contribute to the overall development of the system of higher education of the country as a whole. This ‘Quest for Excellence’ could start with the assessment or even earlier, by the establishment of the Steering Committee for the preparation of the Self - Study Report (SSR) of an institution. Another step in this direction could be the identification of the strengths and weaknesses in the teaching and learning processes as carried out by the institution.
The five core values as outlined above form the foundation for assessment of institutions that volunteer for accreditation by NAAC. The HEIs may also add their own core values to these in conformity with the goals and mission.