Assessment Report on
Institutional Accreditation of
Bharathi Women’s College (Autonomous)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Bharathi Women’s College, Chennai established in June 1964 has been named after the great Tamil Poet laureate Bharathi who emphatically advocated the emancipation and empowerment of women in his various verses and writings. It is a government college (Autonomous) and is affiliated to the University of Madras. The institution is catering for the needs of economically and socially weaker sections of the society, especially the first generation of women learners. It covers a radius of 30 square kilometers in the northern part of Chennai. The institution believes in imparting quality education and making sincere efforts to move towards academic excellence. The college is recognized by the University Grants Commission under 2(f) and 12(B) of the UGC Act of 1956.
The college volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore and submitted a Self-study Report in early March 1999. NAAC constituted a Peer Team to visit the institution and validate the self-study report. The Peer Team comprised Prof. M. Madaiah, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore, Karnataka as Chairman and Dr. Rajan Varughese, Principal, Union Christian College, Alwaye, Kerala and Dr.(Sr.) Christine Rebello, Principal, St. Francis College for Women, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh as members. The team visited Bharathi Women’s College on 29th, 30th and 31st March 1999. Dr. Antony Stella, Deputy Adviser and Mr .B.S. Ponmudiraj, Academic Professional of National Assessment and Accreditation Council ably coordinated the work of the Peer Team throughout the visit to this institution of higher learning. The Peer Team had the privilege of having the wise counsel of Prof .A. Gnanam, Chairman, NAAC on April 30th in Chennai.
The Bharathi Women’s College has a beautiful campus of about 8 acres (55.78 grounds & 175 X 120 sq.mts.) with adequate infrastructure and is located in the northern part of Chennai. The college started with a modest student enrollment of 196 in 1964 and today more than 3000 students are on its roll. One hundred and forty four members are on the teaching faculty and fifty two members are on the non-teaching staff including eighteen technical staff. The college has earned a reputation in the surrounding area through its dedicated service offered to the people of the neighbourhood, by providing sound education to women students. Thirteen under-graduate programmes leading to B.A., B.Sc. and B.Com. and seven post graduate programmes, leading to M.A. and M.Sc. are offered. In addition, M.Phil. courses are offered in Bio-Chemistry and English. The college has the required number of qualified teaching staff to offer and administer the innovative and diversified academic programmes.
The Peer Team meticulously analysed the self-study report submitted by the institution. During the 3-day visit to the college, the team went through all the relevant documents and visited the departments and the facilities- academic, extra-curricular, sports and extension, of the institution. The Peer Team interacted with the Executive Committee, the Principal, faculty, non-teaching staff, representatives of the students, parents and alumnae of the college. Based on the above exercise, the peer team has given its objective assessment in the following pages, keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.
Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis
Novel curriculum design and introduction of innovative courses go a long way in moulding the career of younger students into various walks of life in the society. The college has done well by offering a wide range of useful courses to students. As an affiliated institution of the University of Madras, Bharathi Women’s College has followed meticulously the curriculum of the university till it became autonomous in 1998. In the choice of optional subjects, the college has been judicious in preferring innovative and job-oriented courses like Environmental Biology, Vocational Zoology, Applied Geography, Bio-Chemistry and Applicable Sciences for the benefit of students. The semester system has been introduced in this college from the academic year 1998-99. All the departments are designing a variety of new courses with updated syllabi to be offered from the academic year 1999-2000. Internal assessment is being introduced under the semester system and continuous assessment is made of student performance through periodical tests, practicals, field work, project work etc. The curriculum design and transaction focuses on good teaching as well as the overall development of students. Students are appreciative of the services of the Management and the faculty. Feedback from students, peers and employers is obtained and modifications in the curriculum are brought in wherever necessary to suit the changing needs of the society.
However, the institution may provide a competitive edge to students by exposing them to the rapidly emerging information technology. Since career orientation is one of the main concerns of this premier institution, the college could introduce more vocational courses of the UGC, and innovative applied courses. This would, in turn, supplement the traditional subjects and courses.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
Teaching-learning and Evaluation are carried on in a successful and satisfactory manner in the college. Teachers are very enthusiastic and dedicated, and the long-standing work culture of the college is an added strength. These are very essential for shaping the career of students. The Peer Team has noticed that students perform well in the examinations and get many ranks. Individual attention is given by teachers to the development of students in their academic proficiency. Teaching aids like audio visual aids and overhead projectors are also used by some teachers to make the teaching-learning process more effective. Another commendable feature is that high achievers are encouraged and slow learners are given remedial and bridge courses after the class hours through an effective tutor-ward system. Quiz, tests, and model examinations are given at regular intervals to keep track of students’ academic alertness. All the teachers in the college have adequate work load in teaching and co-curricular activities and the teachers go to classes fully prepared. Interaction with the student representatives reveals that students are happy with the teaching and evaluation procedures and performance.
However, the mechanism to obtain feedback from students for improving the teaching-learning processes needs to be streamlined. Further, though the college has an adequate number of teachers, only twenty two out of 140 are holding Ph.D. degrees. Therefore, there is an urgent need for encouraging the other faculty members to acquire Ph.D. degrees to strengthen the academic programmes of this autonomous institution. The college needs to put in conscious efforts to increase participation of the faculty in various professional development and career advancement programmes. The Peer Team recommends the college to have still better equipped audio visual facility to facilitate effective teaching-learning processes. The computer centre needs to be expanded with more computers and adequate number of qualified staff to provide better access to all teachers and students. Access to more information will not only enable the students to have a competitive edge over others but also help them increase their self-confidence level which is essential in shaping their career.
After visiting all the departments, the peer team is of the view that the research guidance at the post graduate level projects and M.Phil. programmes is quite satisfactory. Only nine per cent of the teachers guide research scholars. One teacher has obtained a gold medal for her Ph.D. thesis. One member of the Zoology department is recognized as research guide by the University of Madras. A few departments like Botany, Geography, Bio-Chemistry, History, English, Economics and Commerce have some publications to their credit. Almost all the departments have organized seminars or workshops on various topics of interest. However, there is little evidence of scholarly research in the departments. This may be partly due to lack of adequate research facilities and funds. To make the research programmes effective, it is necessary for the institution to start post graduate courses and M.Phil. programmes where they are non-existent. The Ph.D. programme needs to be introduced where M.Phil. programme is already in existence. Equipping laboratories, library and strengthening of the computer centre would go a long way in encouraging critical research. The college authorities should approach the government, UGC and other agencies for funding through viable research proposals.
The Peer Team noticed that except career guidance and some linkage with Stanley Medical College, not much consultancy service is provided by the institution. Proper attention may be given to consultancy service in the coming years.
The college has done well in the area of extension service. The NSS Units, NCC and the Rotaract Club have been actively involved in extension activities. These include blood donation, blood grouping, health and AIDS awareness, environmental awareness, and village adoption. Many faculty members take part with the students in these community development programmes. However, the documentation regarding extension work needs to be streamlined. There is much scope for expanding extension programmes in the neighbourhood of the college where working class and low income groups dominate the socio-economic scene. Extension programmes would not only build the image of the institution but also help the students to have exposure to the life and work of their less fortunate counterparts in poor surrounding.
The college has a good master plan for improving its physical facilities. The infrastructure facilities available are adequate. The new building which is nearing completion will house the library and the computer laboratories. The library now functions through the departmental library services. Provision needs to be made for audio/video cassettes, reprographic facilities, book bank and for computerization of library services. An open-air auditorium is under construction. The Mathematics department is responsible for promotion of studies in computer applications. Many staff members have been trained in the use of computers. There are 21 computers in the computer centre and 3 in the departments. There is a move in every department to introduce studies in computer applications.
The hostel is well maintained. There are about 100 inmates who have adequate facilities to live together. The maintenance of the buildings and the cleanliness of the campus are satisfactory. The campus is maintained with the help of PWD, students and other associations. The Peer Team was pleased to note the cleanliness of the campus. It also appreciates the discipline of students evident in their behaviour. A botanical garden, with several medicinal plants in it, is a noteworthy feature but needs to be improved.
Sports facilities are adequate and achievers in sports have financial incentives and preferential admission benefits. Students have access to several State, Central and other scholarship schemes. Annual health check up is provided through the services of the neighbouring Stanely Medical College. On the whole, good care and concern is bestowed on the students.
Optimal use is made of the available resources and infrastructure. More furniture and better class rooms may be provided with assistance of the UGC, the government, industries, the PTA, alumnae and other voluntary organizations, in view of the progressive increase in student enrollment. The canteen needs to be upgraded.
About 40% of students proceed to higher education and seek employment. A good number of those who qualify at the UG level take up teacher training. The low drop-out rate and the high success rate of students are appreciated.
There is a need for introducing a student feedback mechanism on student progression and quality of academic life. The alumnae association meets once a year and helps in the growth of the institution. There is a good number of scholarships, freeships and other financial incentives to students. The Tamil medium students are given a stipend. Much care and attention is bestowed on economically backward students. The Peer Team was pleased to notice an informal yet healthy academic counselling facility through the ward system and personal contacts. It is necessary to introduce placement services and maintain proper records for student progression.
Criterion VI: Organisation and Management
Bharathi Women’s College (Autonomous), is a State Government institution. Activities of the college are planned and executed by various committees with the involvement and assistance of teaching and non-teaching staff and the Students Union. Some of the major functions are carried out by the College Council, the Staff Club and the Committees for Admission, UGC matters, Sports, Magazine, Audio Visual, Fine Arts and Calendar. The autonomy conferred on the college is well managed with the statutory bodies- Executive Committee, Finance Committee, Boards of Studies and the Academic Council.
Teaching and non-teaching staff and students are informally consulted for the effective functioning of the college. The work efficiency of teaching and non-teaching staff are assessed by audits at supervisory levels- Heads of Departments, the Bursar and the Principal. The College Council and the Bursar assist the Principal in ensuring the smooth functioning of the academic and financial activities. Staff recruitment and posting are made by the state government.
Some teaching and non-teaching staff members use the training facilities of the computer centre of the college. But there is scope for non-teaching staff members undergoing more training programmes in leadership development, communication skills, and use of computers. The confidential reports on non-teaching staff are maintained and used for career advancement. A number of welfare schemes are available both for teaching and non-teaching staff. The college has a grievance redressal mechanism at the level of Heads of Departments, and Principal. The College Council resolves issues referred to it. The college has recently acquired the e-mail facility and internet connection.
Financial management and auditing procedures are satisfactory. The main sources of funding to meet the recurring expenditure of the college and to provide for the infrastructure development are grants from the government of Tamil Nadu and the University Grants Commission(UGC). Revenue generated from self-financing courses and funds from the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and alumnae are also available. More efforts are required to strengthen resource mobilization through PTA, alumnae and for its effective utilization.
The college attempts to provide quality education through various curricular and co-curricular activities. The Monday morning worship practiced by the college as a regular feature is to inculcate the spirit of national integration and communal harmony. The informal financial support extended by teachers to needy students is commendable. The efforts of the management to computerize admission procedures and pay bill preparation are worth mentioning. The teachers and the Principal have won public recognition for their commendable work in research, social service and the Scout movement. Students have consistently performed well in sports and games, NCC, NSS and cultural activities.
The personal attention given by the teachers for the all round personality development of students is laudable. The Peer Team is pleased to note the remarkable discipline found on the campus. The enthusiastic involvement of teachers in the curricular and co-curricular activities of the college needs special mention.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
The Peer Team, after a careful analysis of the self-study report and after assessing the Bharathi Women’s College through its visit on 29th, 30th and 31st March 1999, is pleased to note that the institution has worked hard to fulfil the objectives for which it was established in 1964. The college is catering for the needs of the first generation women learners who hail from the socially, educationally and economically backward sections of the society in North Chennai. The college has kept up its reputation by providing quality education. Improvement in the quality of higher education and moving towards academic excellence have been emphasized by this premier institution.
The college has good infrastructure facilities and it continues to add new structures to meet the growing demands for its development. The institution has sufficient number of qualified teaching and non-teaching staff and their services are fully utilised. The Peer Team appreciates the enthusiasm among the teaching and non-teaching staff. Another welcome feature is the discipline of students found on the campus.
The college offers a wide range of innovative and job-oriented courses which will help the students in shaping their careers. The team has observed many teachers using audio visual aids for effective teaching-learning processes. Greater use of such techniques is recommended. Though there is a Computer Centre catering for the needs of the institution, it needs to be expanded with more number of terminals and networking of all the departments including the library, to meet the growing demand on the use of computers in higher education. The departmental and the central library services need to be modernised. More books and periodicals may be added. The formal feedback mechanism may be strengthened before redesigning the curriculum and for improving the quality of teaching-learning.
There is transparency in the organisation and management of the institution. There is quite a large number of scholarships and freeships available to cater for the needs of students. Though the Peer Team could find research activity in some of the departments, scholarly research is yet to emerge. The Peer Team strongly feels that the institution requires considerable amount of funds to equip the library, the laboratories and the Computer Centre. The college should approach the State Government, the UGC and other funding agencies to meet this additional requirement.
The Bharathi Women’s College has been rendering significant service in promoting women’s education for the weaker sections of the society at North Chennai since its inception in 1964 and has made a name among its students and the community. The Peer Team envisages a bright future for this premier institution in the coming millennium.