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‘Confidence’ roadblock for colleges
- State clubbed with laggards on go-slow list

Calcutta, Feb. 10: About 40 colleges out of around 400 in the state have applied for the National Assessment and Accreditation Council certificate, minus which they would be deprived of University Grants Commission aid worth lakhs.

The colleges are to submit their applications by March 31.

Most southern states, Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra are almost through with the process of securing the accreditation. Bengal is clubbed with Bihar and Orissa on the list of slow runners.

Concerned over the “poor response” from the colleges, the council has asked the state government to speed up. Responding to an earlier reminder from the Centre, the government had opened a special cell to provide guidance about the nitty-gritty of preparing an institution’s self-assessment report. The institutions’ self-appraisal is a must for the approval.

Officials in the higher education department admitted that colleges in the state were lagging far behind their counterparts across the country.

Secretary of the West Bengal Council of Higher Education and head of the special cell Nirmalya Banerjee said the colleges have been asked to complete the application process “as soon as possible”. The institutions, he added, have been reminded that they stand to lose central grants if they delay.

“We are meeting the authorities of at least 10 colleges every week and explaining them how to apply for the accreditation. Many colleges do not understand the procedure of filling up the self-assessment forms and preparing the reports and this lack of confidence is resulting in the delay,” Banerjee said.

According to sources in the higher education department, about a dozen city colleges have already got the accreditation. The list includes Loreto, St. Xavier’s, Ashutosh and Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission.

The sources said, apart from the institutions’ lack of expertise in preparing the assessment reports, another factor that led to the reluctance to apply for the accreditation was the “lack of confidence about their ability to showcase their performance before the council’s inspectors”.

However, a college official gave a different explanation for the delay. After the cell was set up, several colleges got their reports ready but a statement of a senior council official created “some confusion”, he said.

Addressing a programme in the city, the official had apparently said the Centre was planning to provide the colleges the fees required to apply for the accreditation. The colleges are unwilling to submit their reports to the council immediately as they want to wait for a possible announcement on the waiver of the application fees. Many institutions, the college official said, are holding back their self-assessment reports.

According to the council’s existing fee structure, the colleges are supposed to pay Rs 25,000 for a single faculty. For example, if a college only has the humanities faculty, it would have to pay Rs 25,000. One that has both humanities and science will have to pay Rs 50,000 and those having science, humanities and commerce would pay Rs 75,000.

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