National Assessment and Accreditation Council [NAAC], in deviation of its 5 year Audit has now proposed continuous Academic and Administrative Audits for improving quality for different levels of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and for its sustenance.
NAAC feels that establishing Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) and undergoing External Quality Assurance process is not enough to continuously strive for excellence but there has to be continuous monitoring and evaluation of the institutional processes for which the Institutions should built a structured system of internal and external review.
NAAC feels that Academic and Administrative Audit (AAA) are very essential for the excellence in Higher Education and therefore expects the Institutions to undertake continuous Academic and Administrative Audits (AAA) and has therefore released an advisory to all accredited HEIs who volunteer to undertake AAA.
NAAC defines Academic Audit as a scientific and systematic method of reviewing the quality of academic process in the institution, whereas Administrative Audit is defined as process of evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative procedure which includes assessment of policies, strategies & functions of the various administrative departments, control of the overall administrative system etc
The Major objectives of continuous Academic and Administrative Audits (AAA), which can be done internally by IQAC and externally by the University (for Colleges) or by other peers should be to understand the existing system and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Departments and Administrative Units and to suggest the methods for improvement and for overcoming the weaknesses, to identify the opportunities for academic reforms, administrative reforms and examination reforms etc. and to evaluate the optimum utilization of financial and other resources.
NAAC expects that each HEI may evolve its own guidelines and methodology by learning from good practices followed by leading institutions within and outside India. HEIs can device its own process including self-evaluation by faculty and administrative units, schedule of onsite visit, format of report and outcome etc. The successful practices can be adapted to suit specific context and requirement of HEI. NAAC has also suggested that an internal exercise of assessment and audit every year and involvement of external peers once in a three or five years could be a good option, through good experts as peers for AAA.
Once the Audit is done, the outcome of AAA may be placed before Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) and Governing Bodies (GB) of the HEIs. Plan of action can be prepared to implement the suggestions accepted by IQAC and GB. It is important that HEIs should formally prepare the guidelines / statues / ordinances for AAA, so that it becomes an institutionalized practice.
Assessment of Quality is certainly an important action, however, to my mind, more important is retention and maintenance of quality. Accreditation by NAAC now is one time process and hence it is natural that an Institutions prepares well for the same, but it is this proposed Academic Audit, which will ensure continuation of quality in the institution and also the justification to the grade that it has achieved.
Ravi Bhardwaj | firstname.lastname@example.org