India’s University Grant Commission (UGC), is calling for official accreditation for all Indian-based higher education institutions. The Indian Supreme Court just confirmed the findings of a search committee that found a profound gap between the total number of higher education institutions (some 300 universities and 17 000 colleges) and accredited bodies (140 / 3 000) in India. To the Western reader with some knowledge of the Indian higher education system, this will come as a surprise: it seems common knowledge that accreditation for universities in India is already mandatory by law. And it is true – however, only on paper. The reality is different.
The grey zone, in which some private higher education institutions and many foreign providers operate, has grown outside of a clear legislative framework (see ACA Newsletter - Education Europe July 2007). At the heart of the problem is the lack of an effective regulatory mechanism that will allow the state to sanction private or foreign providers not applying for accreditation. The UGC therefore plans to introduce a “negative recognition” practice. It will actively stigmatise uncompliant institutions as “quack”, which is expected to prevent students from enrolling there.
Interestingly, the debate is not targeted at foreign providers this time, but at national rogue institutions. It is, however, important to follow the discussion in order to understand future lines of provision.
University Grants Commission India (UGC)Ministry of Human Resource Development, Higher Education, India
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