BENGALURU: Suman Nandy, 35, returned to Bengaluru from the US after a six-year stint at investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to launch a business that would offer corporate compliance enterprise software to companies.
Among his clients was Koshys Group of Institutions, whose Executive Director Preenand Premachandran approached him and asked if his software could help in easing the processes required for the institutions' accreditation.
This marked the first break for Nandy's EPaathSala, which decided to focus on simplified educational compliance management.
Accreditation refers to the process of evaluation of higher institutes and colleges, a mandatory practice across the globe. An institute is graded on multiple parameters such as prevalence of infrastructure, staff training, student learning and registrar activities, and presented with a grade, or in India a cumulative grade point average out of four.
The evaluation, usually done by governmental and/or non-governmental institutions, plays a key role in student admissions, getting grants and campus placements by companies. The higher the grade or grade-point average, the better for the college and its students.
"It is the need of the hour. With thousands of colleges in the country, there is no organised and time-effective method of completing the processes for accreditation, which are crucial to both the college and its students," said Nandy whose company counts nearly 400 colleges as clients in less than a year of its launch.
The list includes St Xaviers College, Don Bosco Institute of Technology and Pune-based College of Military Engineering.
Nandy said that while there is no dearth of autonomous bodies in India that dole out merit, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council or NAAC under the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is the most soughtafter organisation. The NAAC accreditation is valid for five years, after which the college has to resume the processes of applying and receiving the accreditation again.
"What took close to a year can now be done in a week's time," said Mohammed Hanif, senior professor, placement cell coordinator and former coordinator of the Internal Quality Assessment Cell Coordinator (IQAC), in charge of preparing and submitting the report to NAAC, at St Xaviers College, Kolkata.
"The processes that a college has to follow to submit to the council are extremely time-consuming.
The Self Study Report (SSR) is the main document which involves faculty staff and students to fill in details about their progress and academic excellence, prepared automatically, as and when the details are filled, a process that was done manually so far," said Hanif, who has helped several tier two and three colleges go about their accreditation process with the company's software.
Often, colleges find it hard to collect data on one platform when it is done manually, given the magnitude of students and staff members.
Institutions deploy a team of professors who go about this process manually, hire a consultant, which is not entertained or use other enterprise software, capable of collating data when fed to it.
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