New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have after years of prodding agreed to help the government in monitoring and accrediting programmes and courses run by thousands of colleges and universities in the country.

All the older IITs will join in the effort and the IITs in Delhi and in Guwahati have already written to the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry expressing their willingness and have assigned professors for the purpose.

“We will cooperate with the government," IIT Delhi director V. Ramgopal Rao said.

India has 903 universities and around 49,000 colleges and institutions but not even 25% of them or their courses have been accredited by central agencies such as the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). For last two years, the HRD ministry has been talking to IITs and IIMs on how they can play a role in the accreditation process.

Accreditation is important as it puts in place a certain level of standards to be followed by colleges and universities in terms of their academic and administrative functions. It also monitors the quality of courses the institutions are offering and whether they are relevant to the current market situation.

A better accreditation system will also help countries that are part of the Washington Accord in recognizing each others’ degrees.

In India, the quality of higher education is a long-drawn debate and industry surveys have pegged high unemployability rate among graduates. About 90% of business and engineering graduates in India are unemployable because of the “lack of connect between what they are taught in colleges, and the industry requirements", according to a 2016 survey by the industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and consulting firm EY.

Now, a select group of IIT professors will spend their weekends visiting institutions and vetting the quality of courses they are offering, according to the plan that has been put in place. They may also give them a road map on how to improve industry connect and align courses with the present requirements.

“Monitoring and accreditation are good and several of the top institutions have already got their programmes accredited. However, the authorities should also put in place a system where top institutions in the private sector are given more autonomy," said Harivansh Chaturvedi, director of the Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), in Greater Noida on the outskirts of New Delhi.

“There must be a carrot and stick formula…if you want to scrutinise institutions then do that but those coming out with good ranks must be rewarded," said Chaturvedi, who is also the alternative president of the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), a confederation of private education providers.