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TQM: AN APPROACH ROAD TO ACCREDITATION OF TECHNICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMMES G. Prasad C. U. Shah College of Engineering & Technology, Surendranagar, Gujarat- 363001 Email: email@example.com G. R. Kulkarni C. U. Shah College of Engineering & Technology, Surendranagar, Gujarat- 363001 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Chandan Bhar Indian School of Mines University, Dhanbad-826 004, Email: email@example.com Abstract: The paper reviews the quantitative and qualitative scenario of technical education in India and advocates an urgent need for improving quality of educational offerings in order to make the country stand on a sound economical footing. It upholds the role of accreditation process in building quality into the technical education system. The paper defines accreditation, explains its objectives and the various steps involved in accreditation process. The paper presents various criteria and rating scheme followed by NBA along with suggestions to prepare an institution for seeking accreditation. Further, it seeks to explore the relationship between the TQM philosophy and the accreditation process in relation to quality improvement of educational programmes. Role of TQM has been highlighted in meeting institutional quality oriented goal and finally acquiring accreditation status. An Overview of Indian Technical Education System: Technical Education in India covers courses and programmes in engineering, technology, management, architecture, town planning, pharmacy, applied arts and crafts offered at diploma, graduate and post graduate levels. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India looks after the technical education through its well defined and structured machinery comprising of UGC, AICTE, Directorate of technical education of various State Governments and the universities including technical universities in various states. Quantitative scenario: With continuous growth of population over the years, basic needs to support this growth have significantly gone up both in terms of quantity and quality. Large scale industrialization was needed to be brought into existence requiring large number of technical manpower. At the time of independence in 1947, India hardly had an industrial base and technically trained manpower to handle the task of nation building. Soon after independence, many large projects were launched to meet the needs of irrigation, flood control, power, steel, machine tools, fertilizer, transportation, petrochemical, textile, drug and pharmaceuticals etc. Main problem in implementation of these projects was acute shortage of trained technical manpower. Therefore, the ambitions program of expansion of technical education was undertaken to meet the shortage of skilled workers, supervisory manpower and professionals who could perform functions such as design, planning, production, maintenance and management etc in various fields. The new economic order and globalization of the market place in India have opened doors for the international companies to participate in the economic activities of the country. The rapid progress in the information and communication technologies in recent years also led to the increased demand for technical manpower. Although engineering education received much attention in India ever since independence, it is only during last 3 decades, engineering education has expanded remarkably as indicated by rapidly increasing number of engineering institutions, massive increase in the students admissions, increase in number of engineering disciplines and launching of PG programs in various disciplines. Various categories of institutions providing technical education in India are as follows . 1 1) Institution of National importance: Under this category, there are seven Indian Institutes of Technology, seventeen National Institutes of Technology and Regional Engineering Colleges located in various parts of the country, Indian institute of Science – Bangalore, Indian School of Mines- Dhanbad, six Indian Institutes Of Management located in different parts of the country, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE)- Mumbai, National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology (NIFFT) – Ranchi, School of Planning and Architecture - New Delhi. All these institutions provide world class education and training at undergraduate, post graduate and doctoral levels in over 25 engineering/technology and business management disciplines. (except I.I.Sc, Bangalore and I.I.M.s which do not offer any undergraduate course). These institutions have strong base and infrastructure for teaching, research and industrial consultancy. Their major strengths are rich government funding, autonomy, stringent and fair admission process resulting in admission of highly meritorious and motivated students, team of highly qualified, experienced and devoted faculty and above all excellent academic culture and ambience. The pass outs of these institutions are of superior quality and are highly acceptable in job market all over the world . 2) State Government Engineering Colleges and University Departments: In addition to the above institutions, there is a large network of engineering colleges established and administered by state government and universities. Some of them are more than a century old and have been pioneers in engineering education in the country. Total number of institutions in this category is around 150. These institutes are affiliated to some university in the state. 3) Government Aided Colleges: This category of colleges comes under grand-in-aid sector. Education societies or private bodies manage these institutes. They take up the responsibility of providing capital assets like land, buildings, etc. Government provides salary and other working expenses to these colleges. These institutes are affiliated to one of the universities in the state. 4) Self-financing Institutions and private universities: Self-financing technical institutions existed in India since last few decades but have grown at a remarkably fast pace during last 3 decades. These institutions are established by private managements with the approval of the AICTE and are affiliated to one of the Universities (usually a technical university established by the concerned State Government) in the state. Institutions of this type have their own governing body and operate on their own financial strength, student fees being their primary source of income. However, they are required to follow the admission policy and fee structure of the concerned state government and course curricula and examination policy prescribed by the affiliating university. Private universities enjoy autonomous status in all matters such as admission, fee structure, staffing pattern, recruitment policy, curriculum, examination and award of degree. These institutions generally operate under financial constraint and poor leadership leading to serious deficiencies in their infrastructure, academic ambience, industry interaction and research culture resulting in their failure to attract talented faculty and academically motivated students. Needless to mention that the performance of many of the institutions in this category is not upto the mark. Since number of institutions under this category is more than 80% of total number of technical institutions in the country, overall quality of technical graduates of this country is poor. Qualitative scenario: Though there are few institutions in India whose performance is comparable with the best in class in the world, there are sufficient evidences to prove that the overall quality in technical education is deteriorating at a rapid rate. As the growth rate of technical institutions has been phenomenal, many problems associated with such fast growths are present in the Indian technical education system. Prominent weaknesses of Indian technical education sector are . Unbalance in the regional distribution of technical institutions in the country Admission policy Shortage of faculty Inadequate institutional infrastructure Rigid and outdated curriculum 2 Poor learner quality Absence of R&D activity Mismatch between production and demand for technical graduates leading to unemployment Poor quality of training Tenuous linkage between technical institutions and user agencies. Unchecked brain drain Report of a study conducted by the World Bank during the period 1998-2000 mentions the following observations about the scientific and technical manpower development in India . “The technical institutions/universities have mostly not been able to maintain high standards of education or to keep pace with the developments in knowledge and technology. They are constrained by the explosion in enrollments, the limited financial support from the Government, and most importantly, by an overall structure built on myriad of controls and supply-driven thinking of the past. The programmes offered are unduly rigid (with fixed duration and course structure). Curriculum implementation is also poor. Graduates from many middle and lower level institutions cannot find suitable employment due to the limited job opportunities in the areas for which they are trained and because of a growing mismatch between their knowledge and current practice in the fields for which they are trained. Industry often finds engineering graduates weak in professional practice, thus necessitating long duration on-the-job training for making them professionally useful. There is also a mismatch between student demand & labour market needs and institutional output & training modalities. Emphasis has shifted from learning and acquiring skills to passing the examination. This has also resulted in an over-emphasis on theory at the cost of practice. In brief the importance of making educated technical manpower productive at the earliest after passing out has yet to be realized in many of the institutes”. The results of a recent survey  indicated that fresh engineers perform only at an average level in the area of „knowledge of technology‟ and „technical skills‟, just below average in „behavioral skills‟ and just satisfactory in „managerial skills‟. They do better in IT, computer and software areas. Their skills in idea generation and imagination, inferring the results, interpreting the graphs and diagrams, analyzing the failure, applying the concepts to real situations and evaluating the material or process need to be improved. Their performance in maintenance of machines, design of products, solving problems, reasoning, presentation of ideas and communication have been found to be below average. With such quality of technical graduates produced by majority of institutions, their employability is under a great threat causing immense problems to both the graduates and the employers and the country as a whole. The long term effect of this is devastating as it will seriously impact the socioeconomic conditions of this country. Accreditation and its significance: Accreditation may be defined as a process, based on professional judgment, for evaluating whether or not an educational institution or programme meets specified standards of educational quality. Its primary purpose is to assure prospective students and the public that graduates of an accredited institution or programme have achieved a minimum level of competence in their chosen fields of study, thus serving as a form of consumer protection. In many countries, accreditation is the legal responsibility of ministry of education or other governmental agency . Improvement of quality of technical education provided by various institutions in the country is an urgent need in view of globalization of national economy and international mobility of graduates in connection with higher studies or employment or both. Though the responsibility of quality improvement primarily lies with the institutions themselves, the role of external quality assurance agencies is to stimulate the process of quality improvement by the institutions besides informing its various stakeholders about the status of an institution on the quality scale. Purpose and impact of accreditation: The purpose and impact of accreditation goes far beyond quality assurance of an institution/ programme. The major impacts of accreditation system are summarized below [2, 4, and 8]. Encourages quality improvement initiatives by institutions, Improves student enrollment both in terms of quality and quantity, 3 Helps the institution to secure necessary funds, Enhances employability of graduates, Facilitates transnational recognition of degrees and mobility of graduates and professionals, Motivates faculty to participate actively in academic and related institutional / departmental activities, Helps to create sound and challenging academic environment in the institution, and Contributes to social and economic development of the country by producing high quality technical manpower. Accreditation of educational institutions/programmes is a global practice and its need has been felt by various developing and developed countries for one or more of the following purposes [2, 4, and 15]. Funding decisions State recognition of qualification/ certification of professionals Accountability of institutions to stakeholders Encouraging self improvement initiatives by institutions Quality assurance of educational programme Accreditation Process: All the accreditation agencies in the world follow a three step process mentioned below. Submission of a self study report (SSR) by the institution seeking accreditation in a format prescribed by the accreditation agency Validation of the SSR through on-site visit by a peer team Decision making by the accreditation agency. Accreditation of technical education programmes in India : In India, AICTE is responsible for quantitative and qualitative growth of technical education. Realising the need for urgent quality improvement in technical education, AICTE established National Board of Accreditation in September‟1994. Subsequently, NBA conducted country wide awareness workshops and training programmes for propagating the concept of accreditation amongst various stakeholders of technical education. Alongside, NBA developed suitable accreditation policy, procedure, criteria and benchmarks for technical education programmes in India. NBA has accredited 2371 programmes out of 18526 programmes approved by AICTE as of September‟07. Most of the accreditation agencies operating in other countries do not follow any scoring system but NBA uses an elaborate scoring system and its assessment is truly quantitative. NBA accredits undergraduate engineering programmes on the basis of 8 criteria as mentioned below. Criteria weightages 1. Organization and Governance 0080 2. Financial Resources, allocation and utilization 0070 3. Physical Resources (Central facilities) 0050 4. Human Resources: Faculty and staff 0200 5. Human Resources: Students 0100 6. Teaching- Learning Processes 0350 7. Supplementary Processes 0050 8. Research and development and Interaction Effort 0100 Grand Total: 1000 Rating scheme followed for accreditation is as follows. 1. Accredited for 5 years : If marks scored is greater than 750 with greater than 50% score under criteria no. 4, 5 and 6 2. Accredited for 3 years : If marks scored is between 650 and 750 with greater than 50% score under criteria no. 4, 5 and 6 3. Not accredited : If marks scored is below 650 4 How institutions should prepare themselves for accreditation: Institutions seeking accreditation have to submit a self study report (SSR) in the prescribed format to NBA. Subsequently, they have to prepare themselves for an on-site visit to be conducted by a peer team appointed by NBA in order to validate the SSR submitted by the institution and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the programme. The peer team visit plays a significant role in the accreditation process because through such visits, the claims made by the institutions in the SSR are verified and the recommendations of this team are considered for taking the final decision by NBA. Institutions intending to seek accreditation must prepare themselves adequately for which following steps are suggested. a) Formation of IQAC: First of all, the governing body of the institution intending to seek accreditation should create an Internal Quality Assurance Cell headed by Director/Dean/Principal and comprising of senior professors and administrative staff of the institution keeping in view their ability to understand and interpret the quality aspect of education, to study and prepare documents, to collect and compile data from concerned departments and to communicate and interact with a team of peers who are expected to be highly talented, organized in thought and action, well informed and up-to-date in academic and technical matters. All matters pertaining to accreditation should be handled by IQAC. All heads of the departments and their staff should provide necessary information and data and any other necessary support to the IQAC . In general, IQAC will be responsible for Development and application of quality benchmarks/parameters in various areas of operation of the institution. Dissemination of information on quality aspects. Organizing discussions, workshops, seminars and promotion of quality circles. Recording and monitoring quality measures of the institution. Acting as a nodal agency of the institution for quality-related activities. Preparation of the Annual Quality Assurance Report and such other reports as may be decided from time to time. With regard to accreditation, IQAC will take care of the following responsibilities. b) Preparation of SSR: The IQAC team should study the accreditation manual thoroughly to acquaint themselves with the policy, process, criteria & their weightages and various parameters under each criteria and the performa I & II in which the SSR is to be prepared. IQAC should hold meetings and organize training programmes at regular intervals in order to create awareness amongst faculty, staff and students about importance and other aspects of accreditation such as documentation, systematic and methodical work culture, customer orientation and transparency. Based on the current status of the institution and the programmes from which at least 2 batches have graduated, a SSR should be prepared in the prescribed format along with all enclosures. The SSR should be carefully studied by the head of IQAC to analyze the major strengths and weaknesses in the same way the peer team is expected to do. Analysis of strengths and weaknesses should be discussed amongst the members of IQAC and then presented to the governing body for perusal and taking corrective action to deal with the weaknesses. While dealing with weaknesses, the principle of “vital few and trivial many” should be applied. After correcting the weaknesses, the SSR must be revised after one semester of operation and analyzed again. By an iterative process, the performance of the institution and the programmes must be improved continuously. When the performance of the institution and its programmes has sufficiently improved to the satisfaction of the IQAC, a final SSR should be prepared for submission to NBA. c) After submission of SSR to NBA: Academic and administrative monitoring should be continued vigorously institutionwide and properly documented. 5 Faculty, technical and administrative staff and students should be apprised of the ongoing efforts in quality improvement and about their role in this venture. They should be trained to answer the questions likely to be asked by the members of the peer team during on-site visit. A mock peer team (comprising of senior faculty of the same institution/ friendly institutions) visit should be conducted to train the faculty, staff and students to face the actual peer team visit. d) Preparation for peer team visit: Although the points mentioned below are important for all institutions at all times but they assume higher importance prior to accreditation visit. The entire campus must be properly cleaned and maintained. All lab equipments and set ups must be in working order. All documents required for the peer team as per accreditation manual of NBA must be made available to the IQAC and a copy of the same must be available in the concerned departments. Students must be asked to attend classes regularly. Faculty must be asked to engage classes (both theory and practical) regularly with good preparation. Class tests must be conducted as per schedule. Evidence of students‟ learning must be generated and documented by all faculties. TQM Philosophy and its impact: TQM has been defined as a quest for excellence by creating the right attitude in people to make prevention of defects possible and optimize customer satisfaction resulting in increased efficiency and effectiveness . The TQM philosophy focuses on the integration and coordination of all activities in a work process and aims at continuous improvement in quality. Here, quality means not merely the quality of the end products but also the quality of all aspects of a work environment such as data, information, decision, objectives, strategy, people, materials, machinery and system etc. Pfau states that TQM is an approach for continuously improving the quality of goods and services delivered through the participation of people at all levels and all functional areas of the organization. Following 2 lines embody TQM philosophy in nut shell. Total organization using quality thinking and methods to manage all its activities. Doing things right, the first time and every time. The advantages of Total Quality Management, Business Re-engineering and benchmarking have been appreciated by many companies around the world. Many companies and organizations have achieved excellence and competitive advantage by implementing TQM policy. Most of the principles of TQM can advantageously be employed in the area of education and training. This section of the paper highlights the essence of TQM and explains how educational and training institutions can improve the quality of their services by taking a cue from the principles of TQM and Bench marking. Japanese and American Companies have improved the quality of their products and services by applying Total Quality Management. That had further led to many other managerial innovations like supplier partnership, just-in- time manufacture, zero defects etc. Use of six-sigma and Re-engineering has been a powerful management breakthrough in the recent time. Benchmarking tool is being used extensively by many companies. In the service sector, Dabbawala of Mumbai is a glaring example of achieving nearly zero defects in their services. In education and training sector the concept of TQM and benchmarking is gaining importance. General agreement on trade in services (GATS) is going to create steep competition in the service sector both nationally and internationally. Quality is going to be the key factor for survival. In Technical Education and training, India has responded quite well in creating more educational facilities by motivating private entrepreneurs to invest. While the users are happy with respect to quantity of technical manpower produced, the all round feeling is that a lot needs to be done to improve the quality. The concept of TQM and benchmarking when applied to technical education would be highly beneficial to the system, if implemented with all sincerity and commitment . TQM and Accreditation: TQM is the journey to quality improvement but accreditation is the destination. While TQM is an internal process, accreditation is an external process. TQM is a continuous process, accreditation is an intermittent 6 process. TQM is a long term process but accreditation is a short term process. TQM is an enabling process to quality improvement whereas accreditation is a certification process. In nut shell, TQM leads to quality improvement which in turn leads to accreditation. These processes are highly interrelated and complimentary to each other. Accreditation is a process of external quality assurance in the operations of technical institutions/ programmes conducted by an authorized agency such as NBA in India. One of its important objectives is to motivate institutions for quality improvement. Quality improvement is not a trivial matter. It calls for institutionwide quality movement initiative involving participation of management, faculty, employees and students in the process. This involves a drastic change in attitude and working style of all concerned. Preparation for accreditation calls for demonstrating quality in various functional areas of the institution such as planning and monitoring, infrastructure development, admission process, faculty recruitment, development and retention, teaching, learning and evaluation, industry interaction, placement etc. Further, data and details for the last 5 years are to be collected and presented in the prescribed format that constitutes huge amount of work load for which co-operation from large number of people is a prerequisite. Further, the articulation of quality policy of the institution to its each and every employee and student and its implementation are Herculean tasks considering the diversity in their qualifications, cultural background, priorities, competencies and attitudes. Excellent team spirit with highest degree of synergy is required to be built into the system in order to succeed in this formidable task. TQM is an important tool to achieve this goal. Conclusions: To satisfy ever increasing demand for technical workforce all over the world, expansion of technical education institutions and facilities is a worthy step but this should not lead to deterioration of quality otherwise such growth will become unsustainable and even dangerous to national economy. Greatest need of the hour is to build quality into the technical education system to enable the system to produce technical manpower of such quality who will handle the task of nation building efficiently. Building quality in the system is a difficult task specially when there is no specific single definition of educational quality and different people have different perceptions about it. Even with this difficulty, global understanding is that accreditation of educational programmes is highly successful in quality improvement. Accreditation leads to quality improvement and quality improvement leads to accreditation. But quality improvement in educational institutions is not a trivial issue and can not be accomplished without the wholehearted support of one and all in the organization. TQM tools and techniques if implemented properly will certainly help to achieve this important goal. References: 1 Bhushi, U. M.,Total Quality Management in Engineering Education in India, PhD thesis, IIT, Kharagpur, 2002. 2 De Bon S., Wolfe D., Chagnon, J. Y., and Paterson, W. 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"ACCREDITATION AND TQM"