Assessment Report On
Institutional Accreditation Of
A. Veeriya Vandayar Memorial Sri Pushpam
Poondi, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION
A. Veeriya Vandayar Memorial Sri Pushpam College (Autonomous), Poondi, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu was founded by Sri Pushpam College Trust in the year 1956. The College was initially affiliated to Madras University and later to Bharathidasan University. The College was started on a modest scale with two sections of pre-university class, which in course of time have developed into a multi-disciplinary institution offering postgraduate and undergraduate courses.
The College requested the National Assessment and Accreditation Council to assess its performance and submitted a self-study report for the purpose. In response to this, NAAC constituted a Peer Team consisting of Prof P. Neerada Reddy, Vice-Chairperson, Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education as Chairperson, Dr. Bantwal Shivarama Holla, Chairman, Department of Chemistry, Mangalore University and Prof.Premendu P. Mathur, School of Life Sciences, Pondicherry University as Members.
The team visited the institution on 27th, 28th and 29th September 1999 and examined various academic and physical infrastructure aspects as per the schedule provided by NAAC. The team scrutinised the curricular aspects, teaching-learning and evaluation, research consultancy and extension, infrastructure and learning resources, student support and progression, organizational management and healthy practices. Within this short period of three days the Peer Team gathered information to validate several aspects according to the criteria.
During last four decades the College has developed the faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce and the Department of Physical Education which together offer 64 programmes in UG (11 Certificate courses, 2 UG Diploma courses and 15 regular courses) and PG (12 regular courses, 5 Diploma courses, 10 M.Phil, and 9 Ph.D. programmes).
The important highlight of the institution is that it is recognized as a centre for conducting research in almost all the departments leading to M.Phil and Ph. D degrees under Bharathidasan University.† 89 scholars are pursuing† M. Phil. and 9 scholars are working towards their Ph.D.
The College is situated in the rural area of Poondi of Thanjavur District on an 84 acre site located in an attractive landscape. The College campus consists of the administrative block, the Physical Education block, the Economics block, the Computer Science block, the English & Tamil Block, the Library building, and the Auditorium, A Bank & a Post Office, a Canteen, a Press and a Strong Room are located in Separate buildings. The Amphitheatre in the college is an added attraction.† In addition to this the college has a big Computer Centre and spacious laboratories. A large playground accommodating sixteen courts for outdoor games and a gymnasium for various indoor games (table tennis, carrom and chess) is a testimony of the commitment of the college to sports and games. Nearly 700 students are accommodated in commodious hostels which have facilities for recreation and reading, a rare opportunity for students in a rural area. Artemia Research Centre (breeding ponds) of the College is situated on the beach of Adiram Pattinam in an area of 6 acres for prawn-culture which is temporarily stopped because of a case pending in the Supreme Court.
There are 2716 students on the rolls in graduate programmes, certificate and diploma courses. The college has 666 PG students on rolls. The admission criteria are based on merit cum reservation as stipulated by the state, with 31 percent for open admissions, 25% for Backward Community, 25%†for MBC, 18% for SCís and 1%† for STís, thus catering for the needs of the rural and the underprivileged.
There are 223 teachers working in this institution out of which 149 are permanent and 74 are temporary. More than one third of the permanent teachers have Ph.D.s and as many as 89 teachers are M.Phil††holders. Nearly half of the temporary teachers have M.Phil degrees. The college offers instruction through semester system and the success rate of the students of batch I and II is 62% and 78%, respectively, at the UG level and 75% and 61% at the PG level. This rate of success is similar to those of other colleges of the university.
The Peer Team was generally convinced about the good work done when it went through the reports and documents presented by each department. The academic ambience (research), and complementary modes of learning (Extension Services) and Infrastructure facilities are adequate.
SECTION 2: CRITERION-WISE ANALYSIS
CRITERION I: CURRICULAR ASPECTS
AVVM Sri Pushpam College (Autonomous) has made a steady progress during the last 4 decades and initiated 15 programme options at the UG level and 12 at the PG level. In addition to these regular UG and PG level courses the college offers 11 Certificate courses and 5 PG Diploma courses i.e., MCA, PGDCA, M.Sc. Microbiology and P.G. Diploma in Bio fertilizers. All these are self-financed. This is in response to the growing demand for immediate job oriented courses. As the institution enjoys academic freedom by virtue of its autonomous status for the last 12 years, it is able to structure the programmes with required flexibility in the selection of options with a built in time frame matching studentsí convenience. The curriculum is updated once in 2 years in the annual meetings of the Boards of Studies (BOS), constituted for every subject with 50% teachers from the institution and the rest are outside experts. This periodic revision of courses aims at updating information in the respective faculty areas. This is done in consultation with the experts from other institutions. During the last 2 years the College has introduced two vocational courses, 9 certificate courses and the College is waiting for permission to start the MBA programme. The college is developing into a centre of great importance by introducing new areas of study at UG and PG levels. This continuous development of the institution is possible because of institutional autonomy, enthusiastic and efficient role of the faculty, the Principal and the dedicated philanthropic management. This is evident from the outstanding services the college has been rendering for the development of backward rural students and the reputation it enjoys for its educational and administrative standards.
Extra credit courses, optional and compulsory, were introduced in 1994-95 under UGC regulations in the autonomous system, and these are taught by the staff from various departments with the help of a co-ordinator. Twelve courses offered under this system are job oriented. General Knowledge, useful for the competitive examinations, is a part of the programme. Each UG student is entitled to take up three courses over three years and PG students are expected to complete two courses in two years. An examination fee of Rs. 100 per course is charged and the duration of the course is 24 hours of teaching. Herbal medicine, Tourism, Photography, Unix, C- Programming and Journalism are among these courses. Management, Secretarial practices, Computer awareness, Culture and Ethics are compulsory subjects. In addition to instruction study, material is supplied to all the students.
CRITERION II: TEACHING-LEARNING AND EVALUATION
Admission to the various courses of study in the day college is in accordance with the policy of reservation of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Even in the evening self-financing courses the college adheres to the reservation policy in order to extend higher education to the underprivileged. The admission is based on the academic record. During 1998-99 against 975 seats in UG and 227 seats in PG courses, approximately 1100 and 350 applications were received respectively. Admission to M.Phil courses is through the selection made by the university. There is no provision of assessing the studentís knowledge and skills for a particular programme, after admission. Remedial courses are offered to academically weak students.
With the conferment of autonomy the college has opted for the semester system with 25% of internal assessment based on the mid-semester, end-semester tests, assignments and examinations and attendance/seminars.†The remaining 75% are on the basis of external evaluation. While the internal assessment is made by the teachers concerned the question papers of annual examinations are set and evaluation made by external examiners as proposed by the respective Boards of Studies. The examiners are selected by the Controller of Examinations of the college for the panels prepared by BOS. A system of central valuation is followed. While a provision of double evaluation (internal & external) exists in the postgraduate courses, single valuation is done for undergraduate courses. There is no provision for re-valuation but re-totaling of marks is allowed, if the students ask for it. Supplementary examinations are conducted so that students can clear arrears immediately thereafter. The results are announced within 15 days after the last date of examination. Supplementary appearances are segregated from the main examinations.
Audio/ Video cassettes, overhead projector, slides and models are used to supplement classroom teaching. Guest lectures are also arranged from academic and allied industrial establishments. Field trips are important components of teaching in the departments of Zoology, Botany and Chemistry. The students of Industrial Chemistry are sent to various industries for enrichment of their practical experience. Students of the department of English are encouraged to participate in debates to acquire skills of public speaking. Students are also encouraged to opt for one extra credit course extending to 24 hours from several options such as Astronomy, Herbal medicine, Edible Mushroom culture, share management, journalism, tourism, photography etc. All the undergraduate students have to acquire in the extra credit allotted to required programmes such as† office management and secretarial practices, Indian Constitution Computer Awareness, Culture and Ethics and General Knowledge. Autonomy has enabled the college to offers these.
The College has dedicated and qualified teachers to handle various teaching programmes. There are 149 permanent teachers (45 Ph.Ds, 69 M.Phils and 16 Postgraduates) and 74 temporary teachers. The recruitment of faculty is through the employment exchange in accordance with the community based roster system. It was observed that most of the newly recruited teachers are the alumni of the college. The committee feels that the college should evolve some mechanism to induct teachers from other colleges also so that some new courses. The college encourages teachers to avail of the faculty improvement programmes of the UGC, participation in national and international seminars apart from their participation in the refresher and orientation programmes. The college also encourages the faculty to avail themselves of extra mural research funding. The departments of Botany and Microbiology, Physics and Zoology were able to get their projects approved by various funding agencies. Many of the faculty members use the available computer facilities. However, an attempt to use more computers and information technology by the faculty is suggested.
There is no institutional mechanism for faculty appraisal. However, the self-appraisal format presented by the Government of Tamil Nadu is used for promotional purposes. Some of the faculty members have national and international linkages. Dr. Abdul Rahaman, Retired Head of the Department of Zoology was awarded Best Scientist Award by the Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology.
CRITERION III: RESEARCH, CONSULTANCY AND EXTENSION
An attempt is made by the Peer Team to give an overview of the research activity undertaken by the teachers in different subjects under 3 faculties including physical education in the college. Though the college is predominantly an undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and learning centre, a special mention has to be made about the research programmes in M.Phil and Ph.D that are offered in each department, which manifest a high order faculty profile. Out of 149 permanent faculty 44 teachers have Ph.Ds, 89 of them M.Phils and 16 teachers are postgraduates, whereas even among the temporary teachers one is a Ph.D. As many as 41 have M.Phil degrees, Teachers are actively involved in guiding research scholars towards M.Phil and Ph.D programmes. Special mention of the Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Physics, Zoology, Mathematics, Physical Education, Economics, History, Tamil, Hindi and English may be made for their involvement in research. In all, 89 students are engaged in M.Phil. under various departments and 9 students are working towards their doctorates.
The department of Botany is actively engaged in teaching and research. Many faculty members have Ph.D.s and they are involved in advanced research in Agricultural Microbiology, Tissue Culture, Biofertilizers and Medicinal Plants. Nearly 30 research papers were published in standard national and international journals. Besides, many faculty members have presented research papers in various scientific conferences. Some of the students who obtained doctorates from this department are working in advanced laboratories both in India and abroad. The department has brought out 7 souvenirs on scientific issues related to Botany and Microbiology. A good and dedicated team of workers exists in the departments and they have generated nearly Rs. 10 lakhs through research projects. A teacher from the Zoology department won the Best Scientist Award of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology. The science faculty has professional and academic linkages with ICAR, DST, DOEn and Agricultural University. The mathematics department is associated with the Ramanujam Institute, TIFR Bombay and IISc Bangalore. The department of chemistry besides conducting a need based industry-oriented M.Sc course in Applied Chemistry also pursues research in the field of Chemical Kinetics and Electrochemistry. The departments of history and Tamil are engaged in research work and publication of books in their respective fields. The research output in the Department of English, Commerce and Hindi is satisfactory
About 107 research papers and 3 books have been published over the last three years. Teachers also have 3 major projects and 2 minor research projects to their credit. This is an adequate testimony to the research culture promoted by the college. Consultancy service in Chemistry department is taken up without any financial gain. Out of the permanent faculty, 53 of them have attended national seminars, symposia and workshops. The Peer Team appreciates the academic achievements of the teachers of botany, chemistry, physics, zoology, mathematics, Tamil and English departments. Many of the senior members of the faculty are research supervisors, produced 40 Ph.Ds and 900 M.Phils. Currently 20 students are registered for the doctoral programmes and 120 students under M.Phil programmes, affiliated to Bharathidasan University. The academic profile of the faculty is clearly a manifestation of their sustained participation in national and state level seminars and symposia.
Factors contributing directly and indirectly to research undertaken by the faculty are the positive facilitating attitude of the Management, and its sound financial position, resources made available by the State Government, the UGC and the Management. This is promoting quality and quantity of research and spirit of inquiry among its faculty in particular and students in general.
Under NSS, students are engaged in activities organized in special camps held from time to time for cleaning temples, hospitals, school buildings and traffic control during temple festivals. Tree plantations and road building are other activities performed under the National Service Scheme. The college has a village adoption scheme to educate villagers about environmental protection, small saving, assistance to the handicapped, abolition of dowry system and child labour.
CRITERION IV: INFRASTRUCTURE AND LEARNING RESOURCES
The College has a vast campus (85 acres) in Poondi near Thanjavur. The main building has three floors with a plinth area of 6576 square metre. Departments of Botany, Physics, Chemistry, Commerce, Hindi and Zoology are housed in this building. The college has an administrative block (two floors of 1268 sq.mts). The offices of the Principal, and the Controller of Examinations and the Finance section are housed in this building. Departments of economics and mathematics are housed in one building (plinth area 1444 sq.mts). Tamil and English departments are housed in another building (plinth area 1445 sq.mts). The college has a separate computer science block (1838 sq mts) and a library block (937 sq. mts). The campus also has a building for the bank and the post office (468 sq mts), a canteen and a press (249 sq.mts). Separate laboratories are provided for UG and PG classes in science departments. Separate class rooms are available in all departments for theory classes. To cope with the needs of the region, and to optimize the use of infrastructure facilities, the college conducts day and evening shifts from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m., respectively
The college has invested nearly 15 lakhs during the last 3 plan periods on equipment needed for the science laboratories. Fume chambers, fire safety devices, spectrophotometers, conductometers, pH meters, polarizing microscopes, X-ray unit, innoculation chamber, culture room, dark room, humidity chamber, herbarium, museum and botanical garden are provided in the campus.
The college has a PG hostel and a UG hostel with 130 rooms housing 600 students. The food served in these hostels is quite good and healthy. The hostel has minimal recreational facilities. It is suggested that more cots may be provided and the number of students per room be reduced.
The Physical Education department has a separate building (528 sq.m.). Besides, there are good play grounds for outdoor games like tennis, badminton, valley ball, foot ball, hockey, kabbadi and a gymnasium centre. A team of young and enthusiastic coaches are actively involved in training students for various events. The students also take active interest in an annual sports meet. The college honours outstanding students in sports activities by awarding prizes and trophies.
The Library is housed in a very spacious building (950 sq. mts plinth area) and has a good collection of books (75214) and it subscribes to 30 research journals to cater for the needs of students and researchers Besides, 100 periodicals, relating to various courses of study are also subscribed for by the Library. Reprographic facilities are available for students at affordable rates. The Secretary of the College Trust visits the† library every day and has a reading room for his use in the ibrary, and this provides inspiration to students. Book bank facility exists and students borrow books regularly. The Management plans to strengthen the internet facility of the college.
The Computer Centre works between 9.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. and has 50 terminals. A young team of graduates with M.Sc. (Computer Science) and M.C.A. degrees look after the maintenance of the centre and train students. Time slots are allotted to various departments. In order to cater for the needs of the community it is suggested to upgrade the facility and procure more terminals.
There is no health centre on the campus. Students get medical treatment through qualified doctors of Poondi and Thanjavur. Vehicle is available to transport needy students.
The Campus is maintained clean and tidy. A considerable number of fruit bearing, and shady trees and† the botanical garden† add to the beauty of the campus.† Power generators of various capacities are installed. The post office and a branch of Indian Overseas Bank exist on the Campus. The College has initiated steps to have a power sub-station on the campus.
To cater for the needs of day scholars a canteen is run by one of the old students of the college. Food is served for students at a fair price. The Canteen however needs a better building.
The college offers transport to students and faculty and several college buses ply to the campus. Many students commute from nearby places through trains. However, there is a need for providing more efficient and reliable transport system.
The management looks after the maintenance of buildings. A residential engineer, mason, carpenter, and electricians are employed for the purpose. A master plan of the campus is prepared to show future expansion.
A well furnished auditorium with green rooms, lighting arrangements, and sound system is kept ready for departments to arrange seminars and special lectures. There is also an open air auditorium.
CRITERION V: STUDENT SUPPORT AND PROGRESSION
Most of the students come from the adjacent rural areas. Many of them are first generation learners. The college maintains reasonably good results. However, in some of the courses offered by the departments of computer science, economics, history and mathematics the pass percentages were around 50%. Academically weak students are encouraged to benefit from the tutorial classes. In the past year financial aid of the tune of Rs.55.5 lakhs was made available to 1959 students. Among them, 1163 were B.C. scholarships, 583 were S.C. scholarships and 124 were S.C. loan scholarships. Fifty merit scholarships were also awarded. The Management offers financial support to meet student needs and the fee structure is kept at a the level prescribed by the government in all aided courses. Through the prospectus and calendar the students are informed of the rules, regulations as well as the academic schedule.
Although about 5% of the students drop out, the others seem to be serious in pursuing their studies. Many students are able to get jobs in schools, colleges, government departments and industry. Some of the alumni occupy eminent positions in public life. Some are doctors, practising lawyers, sales tax and income tax consultants and a few are self-≠employed and have started their own ventures. The alumni attributed their success to the encouragement received in the college, while the Team interested with them.
The college has started a formal placement cell but the teachers of various departments such as computer science and chemistry take special efforts in the placement of their students. A few students in computer science have got jobs through campus interviews. Teachers in many departments offer informal counselling to students. The Team is of the opinion that the college should strengthen the formal placement cell for the benefit of all the students of the college and keep a record of their progression.
The college claims to collect feedback from the students through annual general body meetings of old students. it is suggested to devise a formal mechanism of studentís feedback on various aspects of teaching and learning. However two students are on the Academic Council of the College which helps the students to offer suggestions and give feedback on the existing and new the academic programmes.
Though the college has a visiting local doctor, it is felt that steps should be initiated to strengthen the medical facilities to the staff and students of the college in general and the inmates of the hostel in particular keeping in view the remote location of the college.
The college has exemplary sports facilities. Many students take part in inter-collegiate and university level events. However, it is felt that students who belong to the departments other than the Physical Education should also be encouraged to take active part in various sports activities.
The college has an alumni association which meets periodically. It has office bearers and it takes part in various developmental activities of the college and also offers a few scholarships to students.
CRITERION VI: ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
The College is governed by a Managing Committee consisting of three members of the Sri Pushpam College Trust, a university representative and the Principal as an ex-officio member.† The Governing Body is composed of the Chairman (Secretary of the Managing Committee) two nominees of the Management, nominees of the university, state government and the UGC. Two senior-most teachers are included as members by rotation. The Principal is the ex-officio Member Secretary. The monthly meetings of the council analyses the day to day working of the College. The Managing Committee and the Governing Body are consulted on all policy matters..
The non-teaching staff are recruited from the list provided by the Employment Exchange in accordance with Community based roster system. The members of the teaching staff are recruited with the concurrence of the Director of Collegiate Education of Tamil Nadu.
Besides the Governing Body the college has also an Academic Council. All Heads of Departments, four teachers from the college at different levels, four experts from the outside, two nominees of the University, the Joint Director of Collegiate Education and two student representatives are members. Besides, there is a College Council consisting of members representing different sections of the College which advise the Principal on day-to-day matters. In addition, there are various committees which go through appeals and grievances, planning and evaluation, financial matters and building maintenance and construction.
The College has received a building grant of Rs.4.05 lakhs from UGC and has spent upto Rs.8.20 lakhs on buildings during the UGC VII Plan Period. Besides UGC grants the college has also generated funds in the form of income from endowed lands, rent collected from inmates of hostel, research and development fees.
The college has student representatives on the academic council and they are allowed to put forward their grievances to the Principal who examines them. The budget allocation, payment of salary, expenditure on infrastructure and scholarships are looked after by the finance superintendents. This office is equipped with a computer and Xerox facilities. The records related to expenditure on salaries, construction, fees and fellowships are maintained in a systematic way and the financial management is done by a qualified chartered accountant. The college has many direct telephone lines including facilities of STD for students. An internet access is also provided. However, the committee feels that due to the remote location of the College, modern infrastructure like intercom facility, dedicated line for internet access, networking of the departments and library will help the community to interact more efficiently.
CRITERION VII: HEALTHY PRACTICES
The peer team, during the visit to the college, could identify a few practices that make this college a place of attraction for the overall development of the rural students. Some of them are mentioned below.
Z The fee structure is very reasonable and no donations are collected even for the vocational/self-financing courses.
Z Every student has to pass extra-credit compulsory courses and has a choice to opt for extra credit optional courses.
Z The existence of need based self-financing courses, mainly through the evening classes.
Z Nomination of student representatives to The Academic Council.
Z Availability of a large number of scholarships for weaker sections.
Z The faculty of various departments were able to establish linkages and collaborations with various scientific establishments, universities, industries and alumni for improvement of teaching and research.
Z Offering of Hindi as a language option.
Z The visualization of switching over to the credit system.
Z One state level award won by a teacher in Zoology
Z Successful implementation of various programmes and policies evolved during last few decades helped in fulfilling the goals of catering for the needs of rural and underprivileged communities.
SECTION 3: OVERALL ANALYSIS
Sri Pushpam College, Poondi, as an autonomous institution, has made a mark on the educational scene of this region. The institution was established in 1956 by Sri Pushpam College Trust with a vision to serve the needy students in the rural area of Thanjavur district. The Peer Team considers a number of remarkable features of the college which it commends. The curriculum based on multi-disciplinarity with in-built flexibility responds to the educational needs of the rural population. It provides a very stimulating learning environment as expressed by the students and the alumni who hold the institution in very high esteem. This college has not made any compromises in standards despite its limitation of being situated in a rural set up and student composition of more than 60% drawn from socially and economically backward communities.
As noted earlier, the major thrust of the institution, in recent years, has been job oriented and futuristic programmes like computer education and microbiology. These self-financed programmes are welcomed. The college has demonstrated its ability to cater for the needs of students according to the goals set by the founder visionaries. The curriculum is designed with built-in flexibility and responsiveness to change. The semester system and continuous evaluation, highly qualified and motivated faculty involved both in teaching and research, well equipped spacious laboratories, library, a vast campus with large buildings and large playgrounds are some of the striking features of the college.
The highly qualified faculty further confirms the scholastic performance of a high order. The initiative taken with regard to extension activities of NSS and NCC shows the commitment of the college toward the rural community. For the development of integrated personality of the students diverse extension activities are undertaken as mentioned in the activity report for the year 1998-99 and 1999-2000 and the Peer Team is happy to validate them. In addition to this the exhaustive supporting measures, several healthy practices are adopted for the welfare of the students which they bear testimony to the sustained benevolent approach of the college towards quality education. In this regard the Peer Team commends the very substantial financial assistance that the college offers every year in the form of scholarships of various kinds where the beneficiaries are about 2000 students. The parents, alumni and students expressed sentiments with fond memories about how they relate themselves with the college.
However in certain areas a note of concern is expressed with regard to the following:
Z No adequate record of student progression is maintained by the institution. This, as an institutional obligation, may be pursued.
Z The Peer Team suggests studentsí evaluation of teachers as a progressive feedback mechanism.
Z In an institution of this volume the Peer Team noted that not many teachers have availed themselves of study leave during the last two years. Keeping in view the future development of the institution the Peer Team feels that the Management may consider financial incentives to the teachers who are actively involved in research.
Z The Peer Team understands the reason for lack of consultancy in many institutions. However, in the present context every educational institution has to relate itself to the community. Therefore, it is desirable to take up consultancy in all earnestness.
Z The Peer Team recommends a well-thought out redressal mechanism to examine the grievances of different sections of the college to raise the level of their confidence.
Z The college should institute a student placement cell in view of its increasing importance to provide timely career guidance and counselling