It's a battle every year for lakhs of students as they try to force their way into the top colleges, but many of these institutes don't even bother to regularly put themselves through the necessary quality tests.
Data provided by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) reveals that a whopping 2,028 colleges across the country have not renewed their ratings. This comes at a time when the country is soon going to pass an act which is going to make accreditation mandatory.
Maharashtra, which used to take pride in having the maximum number of accredited institutes, is the largest defaulter; it has 831 colleges that have not renewed their accreditation. It is followed by Karanataka which has close to 300 institutes which continue to use expired NAAC ratings.
On the face of it, Delhi seems to have the best record with merely one university which is using expired ratings. But the capital has the worst reputation; it has only one college and one university approaching the accrediting body ever since NAAC was formed.
Since its inception, the NAAC, which is a wing of the University Grants Commission, has rated close to 4,200 Indian colleges. Now, close to half of those are ratings that have lapsed and not valid. NAAC director H A Ranganath said, "Quality is a continuous process and it can't have gaps. All these colleges know the validity of their NAAC ratings is over."
Ranganath added that the NAAC was not a police but a body which held a "mirror, telling a university or a college its strengths and weak areas".
Shockingly, in most states, aided colleges and government-run public institutes are sitting pretty and flashing their old grades which are no longer valid. Currently, accreditation is not mandatory but NAAC rules specify that ratings are valid only for five years and they expire at the end of that term. Colleges and universities have to then reapply for inspection to receive fresh ranking.
Most Mumbai-based colleges had a slew of reasons for not applying to the NAAC in time, from ongoing renovation on the campus to not having completed the paper work.
Sunil Mantri, head of N M College, said all the colleges run by the Vile Parle Kelavli Mandal, including his and Mithibai College, were undergoing massive renovations. "Once the construction work is over, say by June, we will apply for re-accreditation."
Similar was the response from K Venkatramani, founder-principal of S K Somaiya College, who said that his college was moving to a new building and would be approaching NAAC once the shifting was over. Sandhya Diwanji, principal of the Mulund College of Commerce, said, "I am working on the paperwork but still have some more statistics to collect. Once I finish all the reports, we will apply for re-accreditation."