The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), a statutory body for assessing the functioning of colleges and universities, has decided to hold under the scanner the city’s medical colleges, already in a tizzy over regular inspections by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Though state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra has welcomed the NAAC move, mandarins feel that it will be an additional “hazard’’ for the already-beleaguered medical colleges and their authorities.
NAAC officials, however, say making things difficult for the colleges is the last thing on their minds. “Our move is aimed at improving medical education and upgrading the medical institutions. We shall assess the overall activities of the medical institutions and award gradation as we are used to doing in case of general institutions and universities,’’ NAAC spokesperson Lata Pillai told Metro from Bangalore.
“We have already assessed three renowned institutions — Christian Medical College in Vellore, and St John’s Medical College and Manipal Medical College (both in Bangalore). Our next destination is Calcutta, where we are going to assess the four medical colleges located in the city. We expect to visit the city just after the Puja vacation,’’ she said.
Ruling out any conflict with the MCI, the organisation authorised to look into the functioning of medical colleges, NAAC officials said they would work as a “second agency”. “An MoU in this regard, between NAAC on one hand and MCI and the Dental Council of India on the other, will be signed soon,’’ Pillai explained.
Officials clarified that NAAC was authorised to assess all educational institutions throughout the country. “We have already assessed the general degree colleges and universities but now we shall move on to medical and engineering colleges,’’ one of them said.
Pillai said NAAC was used to following University Grants Commission guidelines while assessing the general degree colleges and universities but while assessing medical colleges, only the norms framed by MCI would act as guidelines.
“We shall not go into any technical or medical matter. We shall only assess the overall aspects (like academic infrastructure and atmosphere, teaching quality, amenities available for students, laboratory, library, research work, environment, maintenance of equipment, service of teachers and students for the benefit of the patients, discipline and utilisation of government grants) and then award grades (A, B or C) after considering all these factors,’’ she added.
Mishra said the NAAC team was always welcome and the government would fully cooperate. “Any agency or organisation coming up with suggestions for improving medical education is always welcome. We try to comply with MCI directives and, similarly, shall try to do so with the NAAC suggestions as well,’’ he added.
Officials in the health department, however, are not really looking forward to the inspection. “We are already reeling under the repeated MCI inspections and struggling to meet their expectations. Now, if NAAC comes into the picture, the list of instructions and advice will be even longer and we do not know how we will comply with all these,’’ a senior health department official said.