The Government Arts College, Coimbatore was started in the year 1861 with the Intermediate programme. Originally the institution was conceived as an Anglo-vernacular school which during the last 130 years, has been evolving into a premier institution, the present Government Arts College, Coimbatore. The college came into existence during British colonial rule much before the establishment of the University of Madras. The impact of the college is discernible on the Freedom Movement. The alumni of the college, who rose to eminent positions in public life, participated, directly and indirectly, in spearheading the Freedom Movement and finally in achieving India’s independence. They were also responsible for bringing about profound changes in rising levels of social awareness and national consciousness among the common people. These observations are substantiated by the wider perspective of the role of such old institutions in this country in whose classrooms the destiny of India had undergone radical transformation.
The college became an undergraduate institution to offer three programmes in mathematics, geography and commerce during 1946 – 47. On account of its sustained service to backward sections of the society for several decades, the college was further upgraded to the postgraduate level in the year 1971 and subsequently the autonomous status was conferred on the institution in the year 1987 – 88.
The college requested NAAC to assess and accredit its performance and submitted a self-study report for that purpose – a comprehensive record of academic and non-academic details of the college.
The Peer Team consisting of Dr. M. Malla Reddy, Former Vice-Chancellor, Osmania University as Chairman, Dr. D. Shrijay Devaraj Urs, University of Mysore, Dr. K.G. Narayana Pillai, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam was constituted by NAAC to visit the college, to validate the report preparatory to assessment. Accordingly the
Peer Team visited the college from 30th September to 2nd October and examined the functioning of the college with reference to its institutional objectives, potentialities and mission. A report of the proceedings and outcome is submitted below:
During the decades of its development the institution embraced diverse areas of specialization. As a consequence, the college offers 23 courses in different departments, out of which 13 are UG level and 10 at PG level programmes. In addition to the UG and PG programmes offered in faculties of Science, Social Science and Commerce, the college also provides opportunities for 13 M.Phil. and Ph.D. programs. Recently the college started the MCA programme which is job oriented.
A large percentage of students i.e., 69 per cent are given admission to different courses on the basis of the reservation criteria of the state and in the interest of serving the downtrodden. A large number of students in the institution are first generation learners from rural areas. The Government of Tamil Nadu generously funds the institution to the tune of 4.5 crores and also extends various forms of financial aid to the needy students in addition to merit scholarships.
Being an autonomous institution the faculty takes many vital decisions especially in the matter of reconstruction of curriculum. The college is situated in the heart of the city of Coimbatore and has a great potential for further expansion. The faculty have devised several job oriented courses in the interest of students despite financial constrains whatsoever and academic handicaps. The gifted faculty of this institution can do much more than what they are doing at present.
As an affiliated institution of the Bharathiar University, the college has adopted the conventional syllabi prescribed by the university for arts, science, and commerce. Autonomous status was contained in 1987.
As an autonomous institution the college has introduced a wide range of options. Many earlier courses were reviewed and redesigned. All the courses follow the semester system but only 20% weightage is given for internal evaluation. As government prior permission is needed to introduce new programs curricular expansion is slow. However, the college has started MCA and few a bridge courses recently. The courses provide a wide orange of options both in elective and non-core subjects. To encourage study of the mother tongue, students in UG programmes in Tamil medium are given some financial incentives. An equal number of students pursue the same courses through English medium. The college has its own regular Boards of Studies and the curriculum is renewed and updated almost every year. Each Board of studies consists of about 20% external experts who help in the revision of syllabi.
The institution offers flexibility and vertical mobility to students intending to acquire higher education. Even though there is considerable scope and need for inter-disciplinary courses this college has made little progress along this line. It is only in the recent year some of the departments such as economics, commerce, chemistry, botany and zoology etc., made some attempts to incorporate career oriented aspects in their syllabi. Efforts must be made by the faculty to get feedback from prospective employers and academic peers about the relevance of their programs and changes to be effected which would enhance employability. The college may explore the possibility of offering enrichment courses for the benefit of students by utilising the present infrastructure and expertise.
This college has evolved a good teaching, learning and evaluation system which works satisfactorily. This has been accepted by the students and the teaching community. It is interesting to note that the semester pattern was adopted in the year 1974-75 for PG programs and later on it was introduced for UG courses in the year 1978 – 79. Over the years the college has tried to streamline and evolve a suitable method to meet the requirements of the present situation.
The college has a large number of senior dedicated and experienced faculty and they are highly committed to impart quality education. The average experience of the teaching community is said to be more than 25 years. Many teachers are also the former students of this institution and they have contributed to the reputation of the college by their commitment to it. They are aware of the changes in their own field and they have made concerted efforts to incorporate them in the syllabi to meet the emerging challenges. Students are admitted in accordance with the reservation policy of the government and the college strictly adheres to this. The transparency in admission procedures is appreciated by all. There is no provision for assessing the students’ aptitude for a particular programme but they are helped by the teachers after enrolment. There is keen competition for seats and since the college receives a large number of applications for limited number of seats, students who have better percentage of marks are admitted first. The ratio of applications received varies from 3:1 to 27:1 for programs like Computer Science. Similarly there is a great demand for science-based programmes.
The conventional lecture method is practiced and occasionally other methods are followed. Remedial courses in functional English and basic mathematics are offered. A language laboratory has been set up for English teaching. This is a unique facility and it is open to all the students who need it. There is limited use of modern educational technology and scope exists for its wider use. Internet connection is made available and its use has to be made popular among the teachers and students. Pedagogical methods need to be modernized. Some innovations in teaching are practised in some departments but they should be enlarged. There is no mechanism to get the feed back from students about teaching and it would be necessary to evolve a suitable method to collect this information as it would help in strengthening the programs.
To achieve fullest benefits of the semester system the college has adopted the continuous assessment method. The continuous assessment method involves two tests, assignments, seminars, projects work etc., Students are requested to take two tests in each semester and the process is made rigorous and the system is administered like any other formal examination to ensure objectivity and also to instil confidence in the students. The students get the benefit of their best performance in these tests. This has helped in bringing about academic discipline in the college.
Valuation of end of semester examination is done by external examiners only with a view to ensure objectivity and also to create confidence among the student community. All examination work is computerized and the entire process works efficiently and the Peer Team appreciates the considerable amount of savings i.e. to the extent of 16 lakhs made by the administration. The examination system evolved over the years has been functioning very well and it is appreciated by students also. The college has made provision for supply of photocopies of answer scripts. The team was also informed that 14 teachers have participated in question Bank exercises.
The performance of the undergraduate students in the examination has varied form 20 percent in English to 82.81% in the Political Science department. This low percentage in some departments causes concern and to overcome this additional efforts will have to be made by the faculty to improve the situation. However, the performance of the postgraduate students is satisfactory in science departments but the situation in departments like English and history needs some remedial measures, so that the institution will be able to meet challenges.
The team was informed that nearly 400 students apply for revaluation and the system is working satisfactorily. The college has made provision for the conduct of supplementary examinations within a month of the publication of results for such candidates who have passed their examination in all the papers of the first five semesters and have failed in/failed to appear for the sixth semester. The Peer Team appreciated the introduction of such a facility and it believes that this would go a long way in benefiting the student community. There is no evidence of dissatisfaction among the teachers or students with the system.
This college has made it obligatory for the postgraduate students to do project work/dissertation and it was introduced in UG programs quite some time ago and it has been discontinued recently. The Peer Team is of the opinion that project work/field experience is highly useful for the students and it is considered to be an innovative method of imparting quality education. The Team suggests that the College Council could again reconsider and explore the possibilities of incorporating it again.
The college has adopted the Tutorial System and each teacher is assigned the responsibility of monitoring a group of students so that better interaction is possible and that has helped in maintaining cordial relationships with students and also in facilitating the college administration.
The Peer Team observed that only 47 teachers have completed their Ph.D. programs and some have continued their research interests. 166 teachers out of 182 have acquired M.Phil. degree and that is a positive trend. It would be desirable and appropriate that all other teachers may also pursue their research interests for the benefit of the student community and institution. Many teachers have participated in faculty development programs offered by the institutions located in Tamil Nadu. It is necessary that teachers should explore the possibility of attending programs offered elsewhere in the country for better exposure and establishing wider contacts. Teachers are familiar with the developments in their subjects but it is not adequate in some areas. Faculty members are encouraged to attend seminars/workshops but the participation appears to be rather limited. This needs to be improved. Some teachers have made attempts to establish linkages with other institutions and that should be encouraged. The locational advantages of this institution has to be fully utilised for such initiatives. The Peer Team also felt that teachers should make additional efforts to seek and mobilize additional resources from various funding agencies for research. It is gratifying to note that many teachers have participated as resource persons for various programs of other institutions which has helped in establishing better contacts.
The team observed that many teachers are enthusiastic in acquiring computer knowledge and its application. The Computer Science department should arrange some short term training programs to spread computer literacy among the faculty and students. It also desirable that some related departments like mathematics, physics and commerce are better co-ordinated to offer inter-disciplinary programs.
It is noticed that some teachers have been able to pool their personal collection of literature like Journals etc., for the benefit of students and faculty. This arrangement needs to be encouraged and it would be desirable if some mechanism is evolved to continue such activities. Departmental associations organize extra curricular activities but they need to be enhanced.
Research is carried out in thirteen departments as many teachers have been recognized by Bharathiar University to supervise candidates for Ph.D and M.Phil programs. 49 Ph.D candidates and 70 M.Phil students are pursuing their research on part-time basis. The promotion and sustenance of research culture is evident in many departments, as postgraduate students are required to carry out project work and prepare dissertations. The Peer Team feels that most of the senior teachers will have to shoulder additional responsibilities for promoting research. A separate research committee should be constituted to facilitate and monitor research activities.
Even though freedom exists for publication of research results, the contributions made by the faculty is not satisfactory. Only some science departments have made contributions and that should not be limited to only to some individual teachers as it is at present. Teachers need to involve vigorously in publishing their research findings. Not many seminars/ workshops are organized and it is necessary that initiative is made in that direction. There are some departments like the English department which has 26 teachers and it should be possible for them to organize some programs on local/regional basis as they constitute a sizable group.
The Peer Team was informed that some informal consultancy has been provided but it is negligible. The college has the unique locational advantage to extend its expertise to the surrounding community. The department should interact with various industries, business groups, government agencies, banking and other commercial institutions to explore the possibilities of consultancy. It may be necessary to constitute a separate cell for the purpose. This will go a long way in projecting the academic prestige of the institution. Some departments have proposed to interact with many institutions [departments of Economics, Psychology, Chemistry and English] and it is hoped that major initiatives will be made in the coming years.
The college has been promoting many extension activities through N.C.C, N.S.S and Red Cross Units. Many students are involved and this should be further encouraged and supported. The addition of a separate N.C.C unit for female students has generated an overwhelming response. Many teachers have also participated in many extension activities which need to be co-ordinated for better impact.
The college is located in an area of 13.6 acres and it has good infrastructure developed over the years. There are enough spacious classrooms and adequate space for laboratories. The team found that the laboratories are well equipped. The upkeep is highly satisfactory. There is a separate rest room for girl students. The college has provided hostel facilities which can accommodate nearly 200 students. The team was informed that the demand for hostel facilities is declining and it is not fully utilized.
The college library has 78,708 books and that is in addition to departmental libraries managed by the faculty of each department. The practice of allowing male students for four days in a week to the main library and only one day for female students needs to be changed immediately. The Library should be made accessible to all students so that they can use the facility depending on their convenience and it has to be user friendly by avoiding restrictions. Modern information technology has to be added to the library and be made available to students.
There is a need for upgrading the infrastructure in the computer centre and that facility needs to be extended to both faculty and students. The college has a proposal to install the intercom and that would help in improving the internal communication system.
The team feels that extension activities and sports facilities need to be expanded, strengthened and diversified to provide better exposure and opportunities to students. On the whole it may be said that the college does not lack the infrastructure but creation of additional facilities would improve the functioning of the institute to impart quality education.
The College has consistently maintained good results. The high percentage of results and low dropout rates reflect the healthy nature of the institution. The students appear to be attracted on account of good quality education, long record of meritorious service, and central location of the college. An amount of about 12 lakh Rupees has been distributed to 708 SC/ST students and about Rupees 9 lakh to BC/MBC students as financial assistance during the previous year. In addition, assistance is also provided to the needy students by way of scholarships like merit scholarships, ad hoc merit subsidiary scholarships, loan scholarships, income based scholarship, tour grants to SC/ST students, Tamil medium students, Scholarship for the handicapped, free education to Ist generation B.C students.
Informative and updated prospectus is published every year and it contains all information needed for a student. Throughout the year career guidance programmes are being organised in the college. There is a tutorial system working in the college. Training programmes on competitive examinations and national tests are routinely arranged. There is a counselling centre working in the institution. On-the-job training, entrepreneurship development programmes etc are being arranged in collaboration with industries especially for job oriented courses.
There is a co-operative store in the campus which provides educational materials to the students at fair prices.
There is a part-time medical officer and an attendant attached to the college. In addition, the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital is beside the college and there is a link up between the two institutions.
Cultural programmes, debates, nature conservation programmes and study tours are regularly organised. A scan of the alumni record shows that the students coming out of the college take up higher studies and employment in good organisations in India and abroad.
The NSS and NCC activities are properly organized. Seminars and action programmes on international peace, upliftment of women in society, UN day, consumer protection, AIDS awareness, drug abuse, cleaning programmes, tree plantation in city and rural areas etc. have been organized by the NSS in collaboration with the university, lions club, rotary club and NSS units of other colleges.
Four wings of the NCC are working in the college. A good number of cadets pass in the ‘C’ certificate examination. Incentive is given to ‘C’ certificate holders in PG admission. Many cadets are selected to national camps and republic day parades.
The annual magazine provides opportunity for students in creative writing. Both central and departmental libraries are available. The high students - books ratio provide good number of books to students. Rare books are available in the reference section. The reading room is spacious and it has sufficient furniture. Timings of the library are convenient to students. However, open access system is not followed. There is a Xerox machine in the library. This is not available to students now.
Adequate hostel facilities are available for students in addition to the BC hostel and Ladies hostel. Free boarding and lodging facilities are provided for the inmates in the SC/ST and BC hostel. It has to be mentioned that all the needy students are accommodated in the hostels
Women’s Empowerment Cell, Youth Red Cross unit and the Fine Arts Club are working in the college. The university and the college assist in the organisation of activities.
Earnest efforts need to be taken to revive the alumni association. The possibility of instituting the grievance redressal cell and placement cell may be explored. Inter library linkage has to be strengthened. A mechanism has to be developed for rendering services of photocopy machine to students on payment basis.
The Government Arts College (Autonomous) is owned and managed by the Tamil Nadu Government. The Executive Council, Academic Council, Boards of Studies, Finance Committee, Planning and Evaluation Committee, Examination Committee, Disciplinary Committee, Sports Committee and Hostel Committee are effectively managing the academic and administrative functioning of the college.
The College Council prepares the annual academic calendar which is followed scrupulously. The council meets as and when needed and advises the Principal on day to day issues. The examination is effectively controlled by the Controller and the Assistant Controller. The examination work is fully computerized. The fee structure and admission rules are decided by the Government.
The Government policy on reservation is followed in admission and recruitment. Promotion and transfer of staff, both academic and administrative, are controlled by the Director of Collegiate Education. Confidential reports of the administrative staff are maintained and they are used for career advancement.
The valuable records and accounts of the college are maintained systematically and are open to internal and governmental verification and audit.
The constitution of a planning board for exploring the possibility of developing research, consultancy and extension may be looked into. The possibility of attracting external funding through PTA or some other statutory body may be considered so that need based courses be organised after regular college hours.
1. Good leadership along with excellent interpersonal relationships among the teaching and non-teaching staff and students helps the smooth functioning of the college.
2. Total computerization of the examination makes the system quick, trouble free and up-to-date.
3. ‘Pro-poor’ action programs, environment friendly activities, awareness programs, institution-industry linkages, women empowerment schemes etc need special mention.
4. Recently started evening courses in this centrally located campus not only contributes to the optimum use of the facilities but also extends the education facility to the under privileged in the city.
Government Arts College, Coimbatore is one of the oldest institutions in the country established in the year 1868 though on a small scale but with a futuristic vision. The development of this college as discussed in the preface can be viewed in terms of its gradual evolution starting from its genesis, to its present status in higher education.
The socio cultural conditions and political circumstances under which the college has taken its birth, explains the historical significance of the institution and vision of the founder fathers. The most progressive and liberating thrust of this college can be seen in its enduring premise in promoting excellence among disadvantaged communities through an open door admission policy. The Peer group endorses the claim of the institution that the college has been a torchbearer of knowledge for generations of scholars, academicians entrepreneurs, politicians, jurists and civil servants. The progressive world view of the authors of this institutions helped in taking many crucial decisions like introduction of co-education in the year of 1931, imparting of instruction through mother tongue and admission criteria based on reservation policy.
Through its periodic revision of curriculum, the college is able to create the necessary institutional climate for all round development of student’s personality; physical, intellectual, emotional and social. It is important to note that several departments in the college especially the commerce, English, zoology, Tamil, chemistry, physics, mathematics, history and economics are recognised as leading departments in the region. As a result of such reputation, there is growing demand for these departments and a large number of students with high motivation compete for entry into these courses. The college has proposed several cells for redressal of the grievances of the employees, the women and the students. The college has created many welfare programmes and adequate institutional support structure for student progression and development.
Nevertheless the college has many miles to go before it reaches its goal of excellence through unfolding its full potentiality. In this connection Peer group would like to make few recommendations for the consideration of the management the Principal and the faculty.
1. Many healthy traditions and conventions exist in this oldest institution. However a conscious effort for inculcation of healthy attitude, ethical values among the students is an imperative need in all colleges today. It is to be recognized that intellectual growth is incomplete without effective dimension. It is therefore desirable to introduce a special paper covering selected themes of national importance like freedom movement, liberal and humanistic values, national integration, human rights, environmental consciousness, etc. Regular discussions and the seminars can be held around these areas.
2. Areas where feed back is crucial must be identified and a scientific mechanism be evolved for gathering information from students, teachers and employees. This can help in adopting corrective measures.
3. There is a need for a placement cell in the college considering the diversity of its programmes offered and the innovative vocational course introduced recently. The college should also plan for introducing enrichment programs especially for the advantage of those students who are involved in preparation for competitive examinations.
4. The college receives liberal grants to the tune of 4.5 crores from the Government and also some support from the University Grants Commission. The college should explore the possibility of mobilizing further financial resources through organizing in-service programs introducing self supporting courses and consultancy in selected departments. This suggestions are made on the basis of our impression that the faculty is endowed with rich potentiality to train and prepare the students to meet the challenges of the next millennium.
5. Teachers are not exposed to the latest trends in the modern disciplines due to lack of opportunities to participate in national and international seminars. Though many teachers have attained a high degree of intellectual maturity and proficiency in their respective areas, further exposure to new emerging trends shall lead to several added advantages both professional and personal.
6. The college has started certain evening programmes which are a welcome feature and help in the optimum utilisation of the available infrastructure. The college can offer many such programmes under non-formal system and can generate sufficient resources for developmental activities.
7. The autonomous status was conferred on the college in the year 1987. During this period of 12 years only one new programs was added. Many teachers expressed concern about this aspect of institutional growth. It is necessary therefore to evolve a master plan for the development of the institution for the next decade.
8. We hope that the present enlightened Principal with the help of competent and responsive faculty can guide and shape the institution in the years to come. This oldest institution with its historical back ground coupled with the present vibrant curricular activities can grow and make a significant contribution to society.
9. Constitution of an Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) may be seriously thought of.