Assessment Report on

Institutional Accreditation of

St. Dominic's College

Kanjirapally, Kerala

 

 

Section I: Introduction

 

Kanjirappally is a small town in the district of Kottayam in Kerala. The aspiration of Kanjirappally for its own institution of higher learning materialized when St. Dominicís Forane Church of Kanjirappally established the St. Dominicís College in 1965 on the Kottayam-Kumily road with a campus area of 25 acres.It functioned as a Pre-Degree Junior college till 1976, when it was upgraded into a degree college affiliated to Kerala University.Later, St. Dominicís College was affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University when it was established at Kottayam in 1983.The college is recognized as a religious minority college.It has also been recognized under section 2(f) and 12B of the UGC Act from February 4, 1994.†† Mahatma Gandhi University Act does not have any provision for autonomy of its affiliated colleges and therefore St. Dominicís College cannot seek autonomous status.

 

The college formed a team headed by the Principal to prepare the Self-Study report along the guidelines provided by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.†† NAAC formed a Peer Team consisting of Dr.P.K.Chaudhuri, Member-Secretary, West Bengal State Council of Higher Education, as Chairman, Dr.Jagadeesha, Professor and Chairman, Department of Studies in Commerce & Management, Karnataka State Open University and Dr.T.S.Jani Bai, Principal, Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, as members.Dr.Latha Pillai, Deputy Adviser, and Sri.B.S.Madhukar, Assistant Adviser, NAAC, accompanied the team and rendered all necessary assistance.The Peer Team visited St. Dominicís College, on three days from 30th November to 2nd December 1999.

 

Over the last two decades, the college has expanded and diversified its courses.At present it offers several certificate and diploma courses besides under-graduate degree courses in humanities, science and commerce streams and post-graduate courses in economics, mathematics and commerce. The commerce department also conducts doctoral research.The college continues to run the Pre-Degree course which puts a heavy demand on its infrastructure.However, in line with the policy adopted by the State Government of Kerala, the Pre-Degree course is being phased out and will in course of a few years be totally discontinued, making it easier for the college to introduce new courses.

 

St. Dominicís College has a strength of 927 students on its roll in UG and PG programmes and about sixty percent of the students are girls. The students are entirely from within the state of Kerala.The medium of instruction is English.†† There is a large demand for admissions, in the subjects offered at both under-graduate and post-graduate levels. The college has on its roll 89 teachers, both permanent and temporary, with a balanced gender representation.

 

The college encourages teachers to undertake part-time research or grants study leave without allowances for doing research work.The commerce department has been specially recognized by Mahatma Gandhi University as a research centre.Five minor research projects of teachers are in progress at present with the assistance of the UGC and the Centre for Development Studies of Kerala.For post-graduate students in Commerce, a dissertation or project is an essential part of curriculum.Both teachers and students of the college are very active in the sphere of extension work.The fees paid by the students are moderate.Tuition fees account for nearly one percent of the total income of the college.About fifty percent of the students including those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes enjoy fee concession. Some students get national and state government merit scholarships as well.

 

The college is managed by the Vicar, St. Dominicís Cathedral, Kanjirappally, who is the Chairman of the Governing Board.The Principal acts as the Secretary of the board.While the Governing Board monitors the overall functioning of the college, the Staff Council guides the academic activities and a small committee headed by the Principal oversees the performance of non-teaching staff.

 

The Management collects feedback from students on the performance of teachers and non-teaching staff as well as on other aspects of the functioning of the college.There is a Parent Teacher Association to facilitate interaction between the two groups and a regular Grievance Redressal Mechanism.These indicate some degree of responsiveness of the college authority to the problems of all concerned.

 

The criterion-wise assessment of the team is as follows:

 
Section 2: Criterion-wise Report

 

Criterion I: Curricular Aspects

As a college affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, St. Dominicís college follows the university syllabus for humanities, science and commerce at both the undergraduate and the post graduate levels.The college offers one certificate course, three diploma courses, seven undergraduate courses, one PG diploma and three PG courses. One department is recognized for doctoral research. All the courses except B.Com (vocational) and B.Sc. - Botany (vocational) are conventional. Students do not have a wide range of options because of the constraints of the affiliating system. Howeverthe B.Com. vocational course in English was introduced by the college in January 2000.

The efforts of the Management and the faculty in identifying the need to launch a course in Rubber Technology and in Plantation Management are an indicator of the college's society-centered approach. Offering of PG courses leading to M.Sc. in Chemistry and Physics are also on the cards.

 

The active participation of many senior faculty members of the college on the core committee constituted by the university to restructure the curriculum has generated a positive academic culture. The members offer constructive suggestions to the Board of Studies while formulating the syllabus.

 

The college obtains feedback on the various academic programmes from the old students, existing students, management and academic peers. The process helps the college to improve the quality of its programmes.

 

The college conducts seminars at both national and international levels. Besides, it conducts workshops with academic peers to share knowledge. A college- industry - neighbourhood networking has been established. The linkage provides an opportunity for field visits, demonstration, experiments and on-the-job training for students. The programmes are generally in conformity with the missions, goals and objectives of the institution.

Criterion II: Teaching-Learning and Evaluation

The rapport that exists between different sections of the college community seems to have contributed to the healthy academic atmosphere that prevails on the campus. The appointments, both permanent and temporary, are made according to merit strictly following the norms of the university and the state government. The efforts of teachers to train students in both curricular and co-curricular activities are appreciable. Slow learners are offered remedial courses. At the same time some enrichment courses may be offered for advanced learners. These efforts would help students to get better job opportunities.

 

The method of chalk and talk appears to be the most common method of teaching though some seminars and brain storming sessions are occasionally conducted.Preparation and use of teaching aids and appropriate use of new technology wherever possible, are recommended for more effective teaching.

 

There is continuous internal assessment for undergraduate courses as specified by the university. The administrative support is user friendly. The non-teaching staff are found to be very helpful to students regarding office matters. Though the university does not insist on an internal assessment component for the P.G students, it is better to have continuous assessment for them as well. This will facilitate the learning process and make it more effective.

 

A college, 45 years old, could have done better in teaching, learner strategies and evaluation of student performances. Education technology could have been exploited.

 

Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension

The college promotes active research and many staff members were given the opportunity of doing M.Phil. and Ph.D. under FIP in the IX Plan period. There is a Research Committee in the college which is planning to bring out a research journal. Though many staff members are engaged in research, the number of publications is small. Hence it is suggested that the Research Committee may motivate staff members to publish their research articles in standard journals.

 

Consultancy work has been found to be carried out by many staff members in an informal way without any remuneration. If the work is streamlined and organizations who can afford to pay are charged nominally, the college will be very much benefited.

 

The college undertakes a lot of extension work through NSS, NCC and especially through its Centre for Human Rights Development, which conducts surveys and awareness programs on human rights, consumerism and legal literacy.Many teachers participate individually in programs of social work.The college has NCC units and extensive activities under the NSS.Apart from these, students have a whole range of activities, conducted by different clubs and forums, to choose from. Students seem to participate in them without much involvement. If students are motivated a little bit, their extension activities will become more meaningful.

 

Research, consultancy and extension Ė all three - need augmentation. Without these the quality of teaching and the social relevances of programmes cannot be affirmed. As such the college has little performance and less achievements in this area.

 

Criterion IV:Infrastructure and Learning Resources

 

Right from the inception of St. Dominicís College, its Management has been generous in building the infrastructure of the institution.The college has a very impressive building standing on a green campus twenty-five acres in extent.The building has a little more than 5000 sq.metres of carpet area over three floors and provides sufficient accommodation for class rooms, library and laboratories, staff rooms, the college office and the Principalís chamber.There is provision for extending of the building by constructing the remaining wing on the second floor. The college however may not need this additional space in immediate future, since its Pre-Degree course may be discontinued and the space now used for this course will be released for higher courses.

 

The campus itself is beautifully green and shaded from the southern sun by large trees.The Botany Association, the Nature Club and NSS volunteers maintain the trees and garden under supervision of the botany department.

 

The college has a central library with nearly 18,000 books with reading room facility. A student can borrow upto seven books at a time.Besides, there are departmental libraries maintaining stocks of books on respective subjects in frequent use.Libraries of Post-Graduate departments have books for use at the appropriate level.New books are purchased regularly and forty-three journals are subscribed for.The Central Library lends books to departmental libraries.The library, however, needs to be computerized and plans are afoot in this direction.

 

The auditorium of the college has a covered area of about 1300 sq.metres.It can accommodate an audience of more than 1500 and has a good audio system and its use has been optimised. There is also a seminar hall in the main building, equipped with an overhead projector and it is used for academic seminars.

 

The college has a computer centre equipped with 16 PCs and a server.It also hasanother facility equipped with a computer and five terminals connected in a local area net work (LAN).It has a colour inkjet printer, a modem, and standard software for scientific, commercial and office applications.It is used by staff of all departments.†† The College office has three computers and three printers.†† Besides these, the departments of commerce and mathematics have their own computers.

 

The college has remarkably good sports and physical education facilities.It has eight lane four hundred metre race track, football and cricket grounds, courts for volleyball, basketball, tennis, handball and indoor facilities for shuttle badminton and table- tennis.†† The facilities for athletics were good enough for the Mahatma Gandhi University to hold their athletic meet at St. Dominicís College in 1996-97.The college is proud of its sports facilities.†† The college has a workshop attached to the physics department equipped with oscilloscopes, analog and digital multimeters, signal generators and an assortment of power supplies.It also has a range of tools including a power-drilling machine.The workshop is used to maintain electric and electronic equipment as well as to train students in similar maintenance work.

 

The college has tried to build for itself an urban island in rural surroundings.To meet its power requirements, it has two power generators, one of which is fairly large, with a capacity of 10 KVA.It can supply power to both the college building and the auditorium.The college has three pump-sets to lift water.A new water supply system has been installed recently to tide over the water scarcity during the dry season.The college has even installed a dish antenna to receive satellite television signals.It is a modern 26Ē TV and VCR so that satellite TV Programmes, the UGC educational programmes for example, can be received, recorded and shown to students.

 

The college has a girlsí hostel outside its campus, with accommodation for 140 inmates.There is no boysí hostel, but some of the male students reside in rented houses near the college under the supervision of the college authority.Sports persons among the students are provided accommodation and boarding within the college campus.The college does not have any health centre as such, but it has appointed a medical doctor to look after the health of its staff and students.

 

Criterion V: Student Support and Progression

 

The admission policy of the management is very transparent and an academic calendar is maintained.

 

There is an alumni association which gives scholarships and prizes to students and there is a students feedback mechanism.However, there is scope for greater contribution of the former students to the growth of the college. It is suggested that there may be more meaningful interactions among the alumni, staff and the Management. The students may be encouraged and educated to give a critical feedback which can be utilized for initiating follow up action.

 

Many scholarships and fee concessions are available for the students and at least 40 % of the students receive some kind of financial aid or the other. Students have many opportunities to participate in co-curricular activities and there are more than 20 clubs which promote these activities. Though counselling is done by staff members in an informal way, it can be done with the help of trained counselors for the benefit of students. The college has already taken some step in this direction. There is a placement cell which has arranged a few campus interviews. There is enough room for further improvement in this aspect.

 

Crieterion VI: Organisation and Management

 

St. Dominic's College is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Trust has constituted a Governing Board to govern the day-to-day working of the college and provide direction for the long term and short-term activities of the institution.An elected member of teaching staff is also on the Governing Board.The Governing Board recruits staff keeping academic merit in mind.The Management of the college uses a three-member committee to evaluate the performance of both teaching and the non-teaching staff.The College has a Manager who is in-charge of the Management.

 

Internal co-ordinating and monitoring is done by the Principal, the staff council comprising all the Heads of the departments, and two elected faculty members.This council meets regularly to review the progress of all academic programmes.Staff members are divided into small committees and put in charge of various responsibilities relating to the day to day functioning of the college.

 

The college has a centralized budget to mobilize revenues and provide for various expenditures.The institution gets aid from the state government and the UGC.It also mobilizes funds through self-financing courses. An Internal audit is made of the accounts.Audited accounts are placed before the meeting of the Board of Trustees and they are finally approved by the Manager, acting as the settler.Thus the financial Management in the college is sound.

 

Criterion VII: Healthy Practices

The college has made conscious efforts to diversify into need-based courses.Students of degree courses can simultaneously go for self-financing enrichment courses in computer applications. Courses are offered on spoken English and leadership by the English Department, which also trains students in facing interviews.

 

In a modest way, the college attempts career counselling for its students through its Career Club.The Club provides guidance to students in choosing the right career and courses for higher study.Information on job opportunities and avenues of higher learning is available at the club library.The college arranged a campus interview for its students.Two professional counsellors also hold weekly counselling programmes for the benefit ofstudents.

 

As the college is located in an area thriving on rubber and tea plantations, it has appropriately established linkages with some important organizations working in this field.It is going to launch a post-graduate diploma on plantation management through St. Dominicís Institute of Managementí which is its autonomous segment.The Institute has linkages with ICAR, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, United Planters Association of South India and several other organizations both in India and abroad.The College has close links with the Peermade Development Society doing pioneering work in spice cultivation.

 

The college is unique in having a ďFarmerís ForumĒ which disseminates information on techniques of farming, processing and marketing of agricultural products among farmers.The commerce department provides its M.Com. students with facilities of project work and hands-on training by maintaining linkages with several industries, banks and other organizations. Undergraduate students also visit industries to gain first hand knowledge about their operations.

 

Through the diverse linkages with industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors in the areas surrounding Kanjirappally, the college has succeeded in integrating itself with the local community.

 

The college has to work under the regulations of the Mahatma Gandhi University and under state control. It does not have the liberty to introduce educational innovations.However, as members of Boards of Studies, and through wide participation in workshops, the faculty members have contributed towards curriculum design, examination reform and restructuring of courses.

 

The college or the affiliating university does not have formal mechanisms of conferring awards on teachers.However, there was a clear evidence of deep appreciation of the competence as well as sincerity of the Principal and the teachers in the responses from present and former students of the college as well as many of their parents, which perhaps is no less satisfying than formal awards.

 

The College has been working with a definite goal - that of bringing up intellectually competent, morally upright and socially committed citizens of India.There are definite indications of the fact that the college is successful in pursuing its objective.

 

 

Section 3:Overall Analysis

 

It is somewhat surprising to find an institution of higher education of the magnitude and status of St. Dominicís College in the rural and agrarian setting of Kanjirappally. One cannot but appreciate the way in which this college has owned and has been owned by the local community dependent almost entirely on plantation.Yet the college is still in its formative years. It has to grow through diversification of courses, providing more of infrastructural facilities and reaching out into geographical areas beyond the districts of Kottayam andIdukki, perhaps the whole state of Kerala, if not beyond.

 

The college has immense potentials. Its greatest strength is no doubt the patronage of the parish church of Kanjirappally and the strong support of the local community including elected members of the Panchayat ,Legislative Assembly and the Parliament. The college is fortunate to have a responsive Management and a dedicated Principal with a hand Ėpicked group of sincere faculty members lending support in day-to-day and other activities. Former students are always prepared to help the institution that has benefited them in the past. Guardians of the present students as also the teachers are ready to help the college financially. Lastly, one cannot underestimate the cultural background of the enlightened state of Kerala where education in general has always been a priority.

 

The Peer Team felt that the college has to set its directions now for growth in the future years and likes to suggest some areas that should receive attention.

 

The college could allow more flexibility in the undergraduate courses in choosing subsidiaries.Statistics could be offered with physics (Main) in place of chemistry.Students with chemistry (main) may be allowed to study botany or zoology as one of the subsidiaries to facilitate future studies in bio-chemistry. The college may also try to introduce more vocational courses which should of course be selected with local needs and facilities in mind.The college should also try to introduce more post-graduate courses in English, History, Physics and Chemistry, for example.It would also lead to a fruitful utilization of space and infrastructure when the pre-degree course is discontinued.

 

The infrastructure, although quite remarkable as it is, could have some reinforcement. Since the college will be in a position to admit a larger number of students in the U.G. and P.G. courses it will probably have students coming from more distant parts of the state .It will need a menís hostel of moderate size, say for 50 boarders with a section of the accommodation reserved for P.G. students. More space should be made available in the canteen for the benefit of women students. The authorities may also examine if a rest room for boys could be provided. The college will eventually need a permanent health centre.A small facility with a bed, a stock of essential medicines and a nurse would be of great help to resident students, sportspersons as well as staff residing in or near the campus.

 

The library in particular, needs strengthening with more books including those on literature and of general interest .It should be computerized to facilitate better management and to create links with departmental libraries. Placement services should receive more attention. Since a large part of the students are from a rural background, they should be given compulsory training in spoken English through group discussions, debates etc. The consultancy services provided by the faculty members should be formalized. They should also be charged for, whenever it is possible even if the charges are nominal and deposited to college development fund. This would ensure an appreciation of the value of the services and also an added satisfaction to the faculty member who provides them. Staff development efforts of the college should cover the non-teaching staff to a greater extent.The office staff should be trained in using computers so that they can function effectively in the automated college office of tomorrow. The academic and pedagogic concerns of the college may be given special attention in order to promote quality.

 

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