Methodology & Criteria
- Curricular Aspects
- Selection procedure and student profile:
- Governance and leadership
- Quality of faculty and HR policies:
- Pedagogy and student performance:
- Student support and development:
- Placements and Higher Education:
- Financial parameters:
- Grading Process Flow Chart
One of India’s premier full-service credit Rating agencies, ICRA has been offering independent, professional and reliable Rating and Grading opinions since 1991. It has recently extended its Grading services to include Grading of Engineering Colleges/Universities (ECUs). The extension of service is aimed at promoting standardisation of infrastructure and practices within the engineering education industry and to address the perceived need among students and other stakeholders for an informed, reliable and independent opinion on the quality of education imparted by the various ECUs.
ICRA’s Grading of ECUs is designed to provide students, ECUs, recruiters, and faculty with an independent opinion on the quality of education imparted at the ECUs concerned. The service seeks to benefit these stakeholders in the following manner:
Facilitates selection of an ECU over others
Enables service differentiation - Facilitates benchmarking
Serves as an objective measure of the relative quality of education imparted - Facilitates recruitment of the right candidates
Serves as an input in making a career choice
Methodology & Criteria
An ICRA ECU Grade (refer Grading Scale for Grading symbols and definitions later in this brochure) reflects ICRA’s current opinion on the quality of education imparted at the institution concerned. Depending on the mandate, ICRA may Grade an ECU as a whole, or a single course/group of courses offered by the institution. ICRA’s approach to Grading is illustrated in the following chart:
ICRA sees the quality of education imparted (the output) at an ECU as a function of various inputs and the processes at the levels of both the institution and the classroom. The inputs include, among others, the infrastructure, pedagogy, faculty and other resources.
To be able to make an accurate assessment of an ECU’s standing and capability, ICRA has drawn up several parameters, both qualitative and quantitative, in consultation with various experts in the field of professional education and in the “user industries”, besides referring extensively to a wide array of published material on the subject. The following list discusses some of the key parameters against which ICRA evaluates an ECU.
1. Curricular aspects
ICRA considers the appropriateness of the institution’s curriculum and the initiatives it takes to update the same in accordance with the industry’s requirements. In drawing up its curriculum, an ECU’s ultimate objective is expected to be to minimise the training that its students would require once they get into dealing with real-life business situations.
ICRA also considers the years for which the ECU has been operational or affiliated to a university, as institution with an established track record usually have greater visibility, a larger alumni network, and more data points for analysis. In the case of affiliated colleges, the standing of the university concerned is also taken into account. For institutions with foreign tie-ups, ICRA assesses the nature of these tie-ups and the benefits accruing to the institution from the same.
2. Selection procedure and student profile
The quality of students taken in by an ECU is a critical factor in determining the excellence of the class that eventually passes out of it. Hence, the robustness of the entrance examination goes a long way in determining the quality of students. The proportion of reservation quotas and the impact that has on the quality of student intake are also considered while arriving at the Grading. ICRA gauges the quality of students not only from the marks they scored in their previous examinations, including the entrance test, but also from their non-academic achievements.
ICRA’s Grading process also pays special attention to seat occupancy and seats-to-applications ratio, which are strong indicators of the demand for admission to an ECU. In examining the fee structure, ICRA looks at the basis for fee computation, frequency of fee revision, and transparency, besides making a comparison between the ECU and its peers on the fees charged.
3. Governance and leadership
The background of the promoters and members of the board of trustees of an ECU is a critical factor determining its success. The Grading process also factors in the commitment of the promoters and the trustees to the institution’s day-to-day operations, and the steps taken by them to promote and improve the institution. The quality and stability of the key decision makers like Deans and Heads of Department are considered crucial from the point of view of continuity and completion of strategic plans. ICRA’s Grading process attaches great importance to the degree of regulatory risk that an institution is exposed to, and to its liabilities and legal exposure, if any, as these factors can impair its ability to continue imparting quality education.
4. Quality of faculty and HR policies
ICRA evaluates an ECU’s faculty on the basis of several parameters, including, among others, educational background, years of teaching experience, industry exposure, research papers published, and other positions of eminence held. In addition, student feedback is obtained to assess the classroom efficacy of faculty members. ICRA also evaluates such factors such as faculty-student ratio, number of permanent, guest and foreign faculty, and the distribution of classes among faculty.
Given the shortage of competent faculty, it is imperative for ECUs to be able to attract, develop and retain talent, for which they need to have effective human resource (HR) policies. An important indicator of an institution’s attractiveness for existing and potential faculty and of its faculty satisfaction level is its attrition rate, especially in comparison with that of its peers. Apart from salary and perks, ICRA also takes note of the assistance provided by the institution to its faculty to carry out research, consultancy, and other self-development activities.
5. Pedagogy and student performance
ICRA evaluates the various modes of teaching employed by an ECU to hone the academic skills of its students. An approach that seeks to maintain a judicious mix between theoretical and practical study is generally preferred to pure classroom teaching. Industry interface is also accorded high importance as that not only helps students apply theory to practical situations, but also enables the institution strengthen its relationship with the industry. The mode and frequency of evaluating student performance is also assessed.
For an ECU, its internal infrastructure is a critical asset, being the platform from which education is delivered. The external infrastructure, in terms of location and connectivity, is also vital as that influences several aspects including industry interface, faculty retention, and placements. In assessing an ECU’s internal infrastructure, ICRA focuses on several elements including in-campus hostel and mess, laboratories, workshops, library facility, computer labs, classroom infrastructure, auditorium, playgrounds, and networking facilities.
7. Student support and development
ICRA, in assessing an ECU’s ability to foster all-round development of its students, takes note of the student clubs that the institution has, the college festivals and seminars it organises, and the in-house publications it comes out with. Further, ICRA looks at the performance of the institution’s students at inter-collegiate events. The festivals and seminars that the institution holds are also evaluated for the quality and type of sponsorships they are able to get, the people who attend them, and the extent of participation from other institutions in the events. ICRA also assesses the level of support that the institution provides to its students via entrepreneurship cells, alumni networking, faculty support, funding of student activities, and such other measures.
8. Placements and Higher Education
ICRA pays special attention to the quality of placements that an ECU is able to make as that serves as a key indicator of the institution’s acceptability in the corporate world. ICRA looks at the placement ratio of the institution, the number of offers made per student, the number of foreign offers made, and the kind of compensation packages offered to assess the employment prospects, while also making a qualitative assessment of the corporate entities that visited the campus. Adjustments are made in the data for foreign and domestic salaries, and the number of students who opted out of the placement process. An analysis is also carried out of the number of students opting for higher education programmes and the quality of the institutes in which students of the ECU get admitted.
9. Financial parameters
In assessing an ECU’s financial position, ICRA looks at the institution’s profitability, leverage, and working capital management policies. It also evaluates the institution’s financial flexibility to determine if adequate funds would be available for expansion, improvement of infrastructure and faculty, and meeting all its contractual obligations. The quality of internal controls, management information systems, and audit are aspects that are examined closely as the presentation of accounts by educational institutions is not governed by the Companies Act, 1956.
The process commences at the request of the ECU. Once the mandate letter is received, ICRA assigns a team of qualified in-house analysts to initiate the Grading process. This team starts by interacting with the institution's management and circulates a list of information required from the entity. This is followed by a detailed evaluation, involving facility visits, review of documents and records, and extensive interviews with select staff of the institution. The team’s analytical observations are then collated in a report. This report is then presented to ICRA’s Grading Committee, and the issues identified by the team discussed along with the team’s Grading recommendation. The Grading Committee is the final authority for assigning Gradings. The assigned Grading, along with the key issues, is communicated to the ECU's top management for acceptance. At the request of the ECU, two separate Gradings, one a National-level Grading and the other a State-level one, can be assigned.
If the ECU does not find the Grading acceptable, it has a right to appeal for a review. Such reviews are usually taken up only if the ECU provides fresh material inputs. During a review, the ECU's response is presented to the Grading Committee. If the inputs and/or fresh clarifications so warrant, the Grading Committee would revise the initial Grading decision. Non-accepted Gradings are not disclosed and complete confidentiality is maintained on them.
The Gradings are subjected to review (called surveillance) once every year, unless the circumstances of the case warrant an early review, and remain valid for a period of two years from the date assigned. Following surveillance, the Grading may be retained or revised (upward or downward), depending on the developments since the previous Grading exercise and ICRA’s assessment of the same.
Grading Process Flowchart
|ICRA EG1 (IN/ST)
||The institution has resources and processes that can deliver very high quality engineering education.
|ICRA EG2 (IN/ST)
||The institution has resources and processes that can deliver high quality engineering education.
|ICRA EG3 (IN/ST)
||The institution has resources and processes that can deliver good quality engineering education.
|ICRA EG4 (IN/ST)
||The institution has resources and processes that can deliver moderate quality engineering education.
|ICRA EG5 (IN/ST)
||The institution has resources and processes that can deliver only low quality of engineering education.
Note: IN stands for “all-India” and indicates that the Grading is an all-India-level Grading; ST stands for “State” and indicates that the Grading is a State-level Grading. For the Grading categories ICRA EG2 through to ICRA EG4, the sign of + (plus) may be appended to the Grading symbols to indicate their relative position within the Grading categories concerned.