India, a country with an over 138 crore population, is on the cusp of becoming a superpower globally. However, we are still far from calling ourselves a 100 percent literate country.
Over 1000 universities and 45,000 colleges are registered in India, but only a handful have been accredited by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC). NAAC came into existence in 1994 as an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the sole mandate of ensuring quality assurance of Higher Education Institutes in the country. Surprisingly, the number of non-accredited institutions is higher than their counterparts. Today, more than 600 universities and 25,000 colleges in India still don’t meet NAAC’s criteria for accreditation. To tackle this complex challenge of utilizing the untapped pool of educational resources, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal launched the University grant Commission’s PARAMARSH Scheme in 2019.
Aims & Objectives of the PARAMARSH Scheme
PARAMARSH, as the name suggests, is aimed at assisting the non-accredited higher education institutes in attaining NAAC accreditation by providing consultation and advice in the form of mentorship. Under the ambit of this scheme, top universities and institutes will act as mentors and guide the mentee institutes to achieve the grading criteria set upon by NAAC. The objective of this scheme is clear, to bridge the gap in the quality of higher education in India. The government hopes to use the concept of helping each other grow as a nation. It is an inclusive scheme to ensure that most Indian higher education institutes are not left out of the game.
PARAMARSH Scheme Model
The Scheme follows a model of ‘Hub & Spoke’ to operate. Known as the H&S model, this entails the Mentor Institution, also known as the ‘Hub’, to be centralised while managing the responsibility of guiding the Mentee institution, the ‘Spoke’, through the tasks that need to be performed in a certain way to reach the accreditation standards. The relationship between the two institutions as mentor and mentee will benefit both.
Specific guidelines have been provided by the University Grants Commission for an institute to be eligible for their Scheme. There is a broad range of eligibility to accommodate as many Indian educational institutions as possible while trying to maintain the sanctity of the Scheme.
The University Grants Commission has laid down the following eligibility guidelines for the PARAMARSH scheme:
- The mentor and the mentee must be government recognised, aided, unaided, or private institutions.
- The mentor institution must be accredited by NAAC with an 'A' grade and have an overall score of 3.26 and above.
- As recognised by the UGC Act 1956, a mentor institution will receive UGC grants for guiding the mentee institutions, and the grants shall be solely used for mentoring the allotted institutions.
Benefits of the Scheme
- Successful execution of this scheme at a nationwide scale will ensure overall high quality and standard of education of mentee institutes. This will pave the way for improving India’s global rankings of higher educational institutes.
- The scheme is centralised in terms of resource allocations and operational efficiency. The power is vested within the Mentor institutes to use their primary and secondary resources to guide the mentee institutes to achieve a minimum NAAC score of 2.5. This will allow centralised control to be executed effectively upon operational matters, resource allocation, and use to ensure the mentee’s growth and development.
- Since the HRD Ministry is responsible for selecting and funding the Mentor institutes to execute the PARAMARSH scheme, there is a low chance of bias or corruption in allocating the responsibility.
- The PARAMARSH Scheme will raise the quality of education for more than 30 million students currently enrolled in the Indian Education system.
- PARAMARSH will bring about a massive change in education mentoring at an institutional level. The concept holds much promise for narrowing the gap in the quality of education between well-performing institutions and others. It can bring more equality among educational institutions in India that fall under the University Grants Commission. Unaccredited universities will have a chance to upgrade their academic performance and focus on their curriculums, teaching techniques, and assessment, research methodology, creative inspiration, institutional policies, regulations, etc.
- The PARAMARSH scheme will have a significant impact on tackling the national challenge of improving the quality of university education in India.
- Mentorship will allow Mentee Institutions to have better exposure and smoother adaptation to state-of-the-art practices.
- This scheme will encourage an environment of knowledge sharing and fair distribution of opportunities for research collaborations and the overall development of faculty in Mentee Institutions.
- A lot of government resources have been poured into this scheme. A maximum of Rs 30 Lakh will be provided to the mentor institution under the scheme to guide mentees.
- For efficiency, one mentor institute can simultaneously guide up to five mentee institutes.
The PARAMARSH Scheme was launched to provide aid and assistance to NAAC aspirant educational institutes. The word PARAMARSH in the Hindi language refers to assistance or consultation. The scheme is relevant in the current era, specifically with numerous new educational institutes popping up every year. The responsibility for the quality of education in India belongs to the Government of India. Currently, there is a niche of universities providing excellent education, which can be compared to the best Western Universities.
In contrast, we also have a plethora of substandard universities enrolling students by the thousands. The challenge is to fill this gap. This scheme is the right step toward a better future for Indian Education.