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Table of Contents
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65-66

Role of accreditation and ranking in medical education

1 Department of Endocrinology, Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, India
2 Director-Cum Vice-Chancellor, Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, India

Date of Web Publication11-Nov-2019

Correspondence Address:
T S Ravikumar
Director-Cum Vice-Chancellor, Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JCSR.JCSR_56_19

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How to cite this article:
Suresh V V, Ravikumar T S. Role of accreditation and ranking in medical education. J Clin Sci Res 2019;8:65-6

How to cite this URL:
Suresh V V, Ravikumar T S. Role of accreditation and ranking in medical education. J Clin Sci Res [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 May 27];8:65-6. Available from: http://www.jcsr.co.in/text.asp?2019/8/2/65/270754

It is necessary for the consumers and the public to have confidence in the quality of a product or service to which they subscribe. The quality of health care and of medical education provided in medical colleges is largely intangible to the customer i.e., students and patients as they cannot easily judge it due to the technicalities involved. Hence, the service i.e., medical education or health care provided has to be judged against a recognised benchmark by a third-party professional agency. Thus, the process of external quality review for quality assurance to the public is the essence of accreditation.[1] It plays a major role in improving quality in education including medical education.

Accreditation provides several advantages: it improves the reputation of the institution, thereby potentially attracting better students and faculty and also more funding and support from both government and private sources. Graduates of accredited universities may have better job opportunities. It also improves the systems and processes within the organisation leading to improved quality outcomes.

Medical teaching institutions have a dual role – they provide education while also catering to patients. Accreditation therefore could be for educational aspects or for the hospital/laboratory services. Educational accreditation in India is largely under the purview of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.[2] This is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) of the Government of India, which started functioning from 1994. It periodically evaluates various kinds of higher educational institutions (HEI) such as universities, institutes of national importance and affiliated colleges. The criteria for accreditation include curricular aspects; teaching, education and evaluation; research, innovation and extension; infrastructure and learning resources; student support and progression; governance, leadership and management and finally institutional values and best practices.[2] At the end of the assessment, a graded accreditation is provided (A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B and C). Grade D is considered as not accredited.

Closely related to accreditation, yet different from it, is the concept of ranking.[3] Accreditation is either categorical in nature (i.e., accredited vs. not accredited) or may involve bracketing into a limited number of grades. All accredited HEIs falling within a given grade are perceived to be of similar quality, but the true inter se merit between the accredited HEIs is not made known. Ranking, on the other hand, reveals the position of the HEIs relative to each other. Ranking is an annual process while accreditation is less frequent, usually once in 5 years. It is therefore not unusual to have HEIs gaining or slipping in ranks, while maintaining the same grade of accreditation. Ranking is more useful, than merely the accreditation status, to students in making an informed decision, when choosing an HEI to pursue their studies. Likewise too for employers, when deciding between job applicants for selection to a post.

While there are many agencies worldwide that provide ranking services, the most reputed ones include Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings, Centre for World University Rankings from Shanghai Jiaotong University, China and QS World University Rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds Limited.[3]

Indian universities have not been performing well in world rankings. No Indian university was ranked in the top 250, while only three universities ranked in the top 500 of THE World Rankings 2019.[4] In India, the MHRD has instituted the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) to rank HEIs in India annually.[5] The ranking in NIRF is done based on broad parameters which include teaching, learning and resources; research and professional practices; graduation outcomes; outreach and inclusivity and public perception.[5] Rankings are made under different categories, for example, for universities (including both single and multi-discipline types) or for individual colleges. Discipline-specific rankings are also available, including those in medicine. In the India Rankings 2019 under NIRF, released by the Honourable President of India on April 8, 2019, the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, was adjudged as the top ranking medical institution in the country, followed by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, at number two and the Christian Medical College, Vellore, at number three.[6]

It is hoped that accreditation and ranking will go a long way to foster a healthy competition among HEIs to perform better.

As none of its HEIs figured in the top 250 on the 2019 THE Word Rankings, both the government and all stakeholders in higher education have their work cut out to improve rankings. The government has launched a scheme to build 20 world-class educational institutions and name them as Institute of Eminence[7] with the goal of achieving a place in the top 500 ranks in the world within 10 years. The key features distinguishing these institutes of eminence shall be highly qualified faculty with freedom to recruit from across the world, greater autonomy, excellence in research, high quality of teaching, higher levels of funding, significant proportion of international students, etc. None of the HIEs selected so far as institutes of eminence are medical institutions.

What is the way forward?First, all medical colleges and institutions should be encouraged to join in the accreditation and ranking process. Institutions must focus on those areas where they can improve their performance at minimal additional cost so as to enhance their overall scores. Research, innovation and pedagogy must be given their due emphasis along with establishment of placement cells and more public outreach. Leading medical institutions fulfilling required criteria may be promoted as institutes of eminence as described earlier.[7] The generous funding for developing institutes of eminence needs to be more strongly linked to expected outcomes within a timeline. While giving sufficient latitude and autonomy is essential, no taxpayer's money can be justifiably spent without ongoing accountability. Further, these institutes of eminence should be required to secure progressively increasing funds from other sources such as patents and joint commercial ventures. Specialty-specific rankings within medicine itself will be of immense benefit to students in making informed choices about their career.

Inculcating a culture of quality in both education and health care aided by accreditation and ranking is the only way forward to achieve 'world-class' status for medical institutions in India. With a booming economy and a rising middle class, surely, India deserves no less in the 21st century.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Eaton JS. Accreditation in the United States. New Dir High Educ 2009;145:79-86.  Back to cited text no. 1
Manual for Health Science Universities of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Available from: http://www.naac.gov.in/images/docs/Manuals/HSM-University-25Mar19.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 12].  Back to cited text no. 2
Aguillo I, Bar-Ilan J, Levene M, Ortega J. Comparing university rankings. Scientometrics 2010;85:243-56.  Back to cited text no. 3
The World University Rankings; 2019. Available from: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2019/world-ranking#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 12].  Back to cited text no. 4
NIRF India Rankings. National Institutional Ranking Framework, Methodology for Ranking of Academic Institutions in India (Ranking Metrics for Medical); 2018. Available from: https://nirfcdn.azureedge.net/2018/framework/Medical.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 12].  Back to cited text no. 5
National Institutional Ranking Framework, Ministry of Human Resource Development Government of India, Medical. Available from: https://www.nirfindia.org/2019/MedicalRanking.html. [Last accessed on 2019 Apr 12].  Back to cited text no. 6
University Grants Commission Notification. UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) Regulations. No. 337. Part 3. Sec. 4. Gazette of India Extraordinary; 30 August, 2017.  Back to cited text no. 7


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