MUMBAI: Students planning to join a 'prestigious' college based on the rankings given by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) might want to think again. Classified documents accessed by TOI have revealed that a report submitted by an expert panel grading the excellence of a little-known academic institution has been tampered with, thus putting the institution on par with some of the best colleges in the country. A member of the NAAC executive council alleged that a group within the council could be behind the fraud, and maintained that the malpractice could be far more widespread than is currently known.
The scam came to light last July when the members of the NAAC expert committee chanced upon the rating for the Udaipur-based Aravali Teacher Training College on the council's website. The three-member committee, which had visited the campus when the five-year-old college applied for accreditation, had recommended a Grade B and a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 2.835. The website, however, showed a rare A grade and a CGPA of 3.105, which puts the college in the same league as some distinguished institutions such as Mount Carmel, Bangalore, H R College, Mumbai, Loyola College, Chennai and St Xavier's College, Kolkata.
Committee member R S Mali, a former vice-chancellor of the North Maharashtra University, alerted NAAC about the mismatch. A probe was instituted, which revealed that this was not a typographical error—the original confidential grade sheet submitted by the peer review team had been removed from the NAAC dossier and replaced with a doctored one that bore the forged signatures of all the panel members. "The report (submitted) by the chairman indicates that the entire (expert) team agrees that they have awarded Grade B with CGPA 2.835 and not Grade A with 3.105. Also signatures on the originals are not authentic," said a confidential NAAC report.
How was the grade bumped up? How did the score swell? "When the grade sheet with NAAC was cross-checked with a copy of the original that a panel member had, we found that the marks given for the teaching-learning aspect, a parameter that carries much weightage, had been inflated to 275. That took the overall CGPA to 3.105," said a source in the HRD ministry. NAAC rates colleges on 36 quality parameters such as infrastructure, research output and so on.
Source: Times of India