Our re-accreditation is over and hence, we meet the two minimum institutional requirements that NAAC has set for the purpose: (i) a functional IQAC; and (ii) institutional information and also for communication connectivity on the university website.
What We have Learnt from Others
NAAC has published reports on of the results produced on best practices in the activities of the Internal Quality Assurance Cell on the basis of the presentations from 20 accredited institutions from a list of 140 such institutions at a workshop it organized on 14 October 2005. The reports identify some of the priority areas for serious consideration of IQAC, and these include:
Generating resources from various sources: (1) Self financing courses; (2) MP Local Area Development fund; (3) Alumni; (4) Industrialists; and (5) Philanthropists.
Promoting research culture: (i) establishing a research cell and placing it under a co-coordinator; (ii) collecting and using about funding agencies; (iii) disseminating information on how to apply to get Minor/Major Research Projects; and (iv) organising workshops/ seminars/conferences/invited lectures, producing and using the content of the reports.
Assessment of the impact of IQAC activities: comparing institutional performance pre- and post-IQAC period on aspects like curricular, extracurricular, co-curricular, library, administration and infrastructure, and comparing. NAAC may propose qualitative and quantitative assessment criteria for IQAC. Specify expectations of NAAC regarding IQAC planning and implementation.
Participation of stakeholders: Student representatives be made aware and involved in the IQAC activities but at the discretion of the Institution. Participation of Teachers must be assured in all the IQAC activities. Management should be taken into confidence for sustaining the IQAC activities and for resource mobilization. Non-teaching staff should play an important role in quality assurance of the college and should be involved and trained for the same.
NAAC has evaluated the self-appraisal and peer team reports of more than 160 HEIs which it accredited with top-most grades, debated these as case studies in several seminars andworkshops it organized in to identify and specify many best practices covering the aspects on which it assesses and accredits HEIs.
Where We Stand Today
Periodic internal, functional and even competitive benchmarking in the university began from the time a committee chaired by Professor M H Vasavada (Retired Head, Department of Mathematics) helped create a framework and completed our first internal Academic and Administrative Audit (AAA) on various aspects like academic activities and research, administration, and examinations in 2001.
Another committee chaired by Professor J J Shah (Retired founder Head, Department of Biosciences) drew up a plan of action soon thereafter in the form of a report, titled “Our Journey towards Excellence: Improving the Environment of Teaching, Learning and Research, Vision, Mission, Strategy, and Leadership” in 2002.
The Shah Committee Report covered various aspects like: (1) restructuring of courses; (2) revolutionizing teaching and learning; (3) faculty development and enhancement; (4) benchmarking; (5) Audit-NAAC; (6) Internal Quality Assurance Cells (IQAC) in each Department; (7) framework for qualifications, i.e. expected outcomes at each level of academic qualifications, for ensuring quality control; (8) research outcome; (9) inter-departmental cooperation and coordination; (10) intra-departmental interface; (11) Institution-industry and social interaction; (12) competency in Computer and other IT technology; and (13) administrative support; and put in place the benchmarks under each of these 13 aspects of academic life in the university.
We have had a strong IQAC. The coordinator had served as a co-coordinator for a period of seven years. Both the co-coordinators are teacher-researcher-administrators with one of them being a member of the Advisory Board of the IQAC for seven years and a three-year term as a former member of the University Syndicate. Another has rich experience of working on various important committees of the University and a good understanding of our strengths and weaknesses as a University. All the three together believe in sharing responsibilities for various functions and have frequent consultations to ensure effective communication between and among them.
The University has been fortunate to have, at any given point in time, a group of committed and dedicated teachers and officials. We have been assessed and accredited thrice, twice as a regular exercise, and the third time on an appeal we made against grading and which NAAC allowed. Therefore the procedural modalities are already in place.
Breathing New Life into IQAC
Quality assurance, notes the relevant NAAC documents, is ‘a by-product of ongoing efforts to define the objectives of an institution, to have a work plan to achieve them and to specify the checks and balances to evaluate the degree to which each of the tasks is fulfilled.’ We perceive IQAC not as an institutional structure established for its own sake, or a record-keeping unit within the university, but as a system/unit/organ put in place in the university to aid and advise it on intervention strategies needed to remove bottlenecks and deficiencies in facilitating quality assurance and management.
Quality assurance and management does not depend on institutional control but on the commitment and dedication of those involved to devise procedures and instruments on consensus arrived at for measuring outcomes, identifying lacuna and plugging the loopholes observed.