Assessment Report On
Institutional Accreditation Of
Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Section 1: Preamble
Government College (Autonomous), Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, is one of the oldest institutions in the country, established in the year 1854 even before the Madras University came into existence. The college is situated on the banks of the river Cauvery in an area of about 20 acres. The institution enjoys great historical significance. Many eminent teachers like W.A. Porter, Gopal Rao, V.S.Srinivasa Sastry and U.V. Swaminatha Iyer were associated with this institution in the past and they have left an indelible impression on the history of the institution. The historical significance of the institution lies in the fact that the great Mathematical prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan - the nation’s pride – was a product of this institution.
It is interesting to note that the institution was started as a Provincial School in the year 1854 under the colonial administration. The main object of the college was to create a new sense of national consciousness among the people of this region and to disseminate knowledge. From the very inception of the historically important institution, that is from 1864, it has been offering courses in intellectual disciplines like mathematics, history and philosophy. As early as 1867, the degree programme, the BA courses, was started with physicals sciences, mathematics, logic, history and Sanskrit. The founding visionaries have made a lasting contribution by constructing spacious buildings for offering several courses. At present the college offers several programmes and was conferred autonomous status in the year 1987.
Except for academic autonomy, the college is under the direct administrative and financial control of the government of Tamil Nadu. It is gratifying to record that the government of Tamil Nadu has taken the initiative to get the college assessed by National Assessment and Accreditation Council. The college submitted a detailed self-study report in May 1999. The NAAC constituted a Peer Team to visit the college and validate the self-study report. The team members comprised Prof. M. Malla Reddy, an education and Ex Vice-chancellor of Osmania University as Chairman; Prof.Devaraj Urs, Professor of Development Studies, University of Mysore and Prof. Varghese K Varghese, Head of Department of Social Work, Rajagiri College of Social Work, Kerala as members. The Peer Team visited the college between 3oth in July and 1st August (both dates inclusive).
As stated in the self-study report the college is situated in a beautiful ambience on the banks of the river Cauvery. A narrow bridge was constructed connecting the college with the town. However, with the growing urbanization, the college has now become a part of Kumbakonam city. It has a small campus of 20 acres with a fairly massive building complex with a potential to grow into an ideal and unique educational institution.
The college has eleven independent departments and three allied departments offering UG and PG courses. There are 120 members of teaching faculty and about 70 members of non-teaching staff including technical hands. There are 1503 students in the UG programmes and 140 students in the PG Programmes. Some disciplines like English, Physics and Tamil offer M.Phil and Ph.D programmes on part time basis for school teachers without charging any fee. This is a commendable extension activity of these departments.
An analysis of the student population on the campus indicates that more than 90 percent of the students are from a semi urban or rural background, mostly from the neighbouring villages. Due to expansion of higher education and establishment of several colleges covering many areas of the Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, the college does not attract students from far off places. The institution, however, caters for the needs of rural agricultural first generation students learners from a poor socio–economic background. A critical examination of the socio-economic status of the student population suggests that the institution is serves the educational cause of the poor thus realising the objectives for which it was established. The institution can be converted into an excellent community centre – designing community oriented educational and cultural programs and rural job-oriented courses. A serious and detailed exercise needs to be undertaken for restructuring the curriculum both in the existing departments and for establishing new departments, especially in the area of continuing education.
The Peer Team carefully perused and analyzed the self-study report submitted by the college. During the institutional visit, the team went through all relevant documents, visited the departments saw the facilities and interacted with various constituents of the institution. The academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, sports and extension facilities of the institution were visited. The Peer Team interacted with the Principal, the governing body, faculty, senior officials, staff and students of the institution. Based on the above exercise and keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by NAAC, the Peer Team has given its objective assessment of the institution. The assessment of the institution under various criteria, the commendable features of the institution as well as the issues of concern are given in the ensuing pages.
Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis
Criterion I: Curricular Aspects
The college offers nine postgraduate courses, ten under graduate courses and a certificate course in computer applications. The curricular contents are formulated following the broad structure provided by the Bharathidasn University. Specialists from different institutions were consulted in designing the curriculum in order to ensure that it is of the same standard as that of reputed institutions. Various aspects like educational aspirations and requirements of student population, academic skills development, regional and social needs and employability were taken into consideration while designing the programmes.
The curriculum is reviewed once in two years and wherever necessary the programmes are restructured to meet the contemporary requirements so as to make it relevant. Interdisciplinary approach is also attempted wherever it is possible. The autonomous status has helped the college to strengthen its academic programmes. The semester pattern is followed.
Though many changes have been incorporated after getting autonomy, many of the courses are still conventional in nature. In view of the importance of information technology today and in order to make students computer literate, the college has introduced a paper on “Elements of Computer and its applications” for all under graduate students and that is appreciated by the student community. This college is one of the few institutions to offer BA degree in “Indian Culture” Tourism has been added to help students to get jobs. Skill development and employability concerns have been addressed by incorporating recent developments: physics and mathematics departments teach advanced computer programming to their students. Chemistry students are offered two special papers in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Food Nutrition and Dairy science. The English department has added Journalism and most of the departments have made significant changes to suit present requirements.
The college is represented on various academic bodies of the other institutions and that provides an opportunity for the faculty members to interact with other colleagues in the profession. It also helps in making suitable curricular changes periodically.
The college provides opportunity for pursuing higher studies like M.Phil. and Ph.D. and it is restricted to only a few departments and some more departments will be in a position to extend this facility. Several departments have introduced project work / field work to strengthen their programmes.
The performance of this college has to be viewed in the context of the restrictive milieu in which it operates. There is a significant change in the composition of student population and their ability to cope with the programmes. The range of programmes available in the college is not wide partly because of the limitted approved faculty positions. The college is not permitted to offer self-financing courses. In spite of the constraints the college has been able to introduce the MCA programme and nearly 30% of the seats in the course go to the under-privileged students from rural areas. Since a large member of students are drawn from the rural area they have difficulty in pursuing their education in English. However, the college has been offering Tamil medium courses simultaneously, and this is found to be useful to the students from the rural areas.
It would be more appropriate if project work and field work are added wherever it is possible, in the UG programmes also, to help the students acquire skills and gain field experience. The college should also incorporate quantitative components to many programmes by involving departments of Statistics and Mathematics. The college has not been able to interact with many institutions because of locational disadvantages. Efforts are to be made to invite experts and arrange lectures to provide better exposure to students in subject areas. There is need for the college to introduce a value based and community-oriented curriculum to meet the needs of the society.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
The college has adopted a good teaching-learning and evaluation system and it has been accepted by the students. The college has qualified and adequate number of teaching staff to manage the various programs excepting the department of computer science. Student evaluation is on the basis of continuous assessment and end-of-semester examinations. The components of continuous assessment include tests, assignments, seminars and projects. The valuation of end-of–semester examinations is done by external examiners in order to instil confidence in the student community about the credibility of the system. All examination work is fully computerised and considerable savings have been made by the efficient management of the examination system. The entire process works satisfactorily and it is appreciated by the student community. They are fully aware of the process. Single external valuation at undergraduate level and double external evaluation at the postgraduate level have added credibility to the system. The college has made provision for revaluation and also for supplying the photocopies of the answer scripts. This is welcomed by the student community. The ward system practised in the college is quite helpful to the students. There is no evidence of any dissatisfaction either among the teachers or students.
The college has a large number of senior, dedicated and experienced faculty and they are committed to impart quality education. Only 30 teachers have completed their Ph.D. programmes and it would be desirable if the remaining teachers are motivated to pursue their research interests. Research orientation is better in some departments like physics, chemistry, economics and Tamil but it should improve in other departments too.
Admission is made in accordance with the policy of reservation of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The college adheres strictly to this policy and it is appreciated by every one, particularly for the transparency in selection. It is noticed that a large number of students from other colleges have joined this college for their postgraduate programme. There is no provision for assessing student knowledge or aptitude for a particular programme but they are helped by the teachers, where they are unable to cope.
The college has a tutor ward system wherein each tutor is assigned 20 students. The teachers look after the academic progress of their students as well as personal difficulties and extend all possible help.
The conventional lecture method is practised and occasionally other methods are followed. Pedagogical methods need to be modernized. Some innovations are practised in a few departments but that should be widely practised and encouraged. There is no mechanism to get the feedback from the students about teaching and some efforts in this direction should be made. Recruitment of faculty is made by the government and teachers are posted depending on the workload. The team observed that adequate and competent teachers are available in the college. The language lab developed by the English department has helped the students to attain proficiency in speaking in English and it is a unique set up in this area. Experience has shown that students have positively responded and in view of that, proposals are in offing to extend these facilities to large number of students.
The college management has also taken initiative to arrange for temporary faculty to meet the exigencies and for that purpose enough resources are mobilised through Parent Teachers’ Association so that academic schedules are not interrupted.
The faculty are encouraged to avail themselves of faculty improvement programmes and most of them have benefited from such schemes. The Peer Team feels that teachers should have some work initiatives to seek additional resources and for their departments/college enlarge their activities. Faculty appraisal is regularly followed but that needs to be done in a better manner. Student evaluation is said to have been practised but it would be better if a formal mechanism is adopted. Many teachers are enthusiastic in acquiring new skills particularly in the area of computers and considerable progress is made in this direction. The Peer Team observed that most of the teachers have established wide contacts with the faculty of other institutions and universities as they are invited to be the members of examination boards, Boards of Studies and other academic bodies. In addition to it, several teachers have been resource persons for various programmes which have helped them to establish linkages for collaborative work. Only three departments have been successful in initiating collaborative activities and it is hoped that other departments would also emulate them.
The Peer Team appreciates the importance attached to the maintenance strict discipline and regularity of attendance and that should be continued. Students are required to have a minimum attendance of 75% aggregate. The Peer Team recommends that it would be better if it is made 75% in individual papers to ensure that students take serious note of it. The team suggests that an academic committee could be constituted to monitor the periodic progress of academic work and also to liaise between teachers and parents.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
The promotion and maintenance of research culture is evident only in some departments namely Tamil, English and economics as they offer M.Phil. programmes. Some senior teachers are recognised by the university to supervise research candidates and it should be possible for other departments to encourage faculty research. The percentage of faculty involved in research varies from 10 percentage to 50 percent different departments. The Peer Team feels that all the teaching staff should involve vigorously in promoting research culture at various levels and it need not be limited to departments offering postgraduate programmes alone.
Even though freedom exists for publishing papers, the contribution made by the faculty is not significant. Only three departments have made significant impact and it is again confined to some individuals. The autonomous status has helped the faculty to attend many national and international conferences but again it is not significant.
The Peer Team appreciates the contribution made by the department of Geography for organizing conferences and also for taking the lead in establishing a society, namely Indian Society for Social Science and Medicine. It is creditable that the department also brings out a journal, which is unique, and the department has pioneered it.
The college has been promoting many extension activities through NCC, NSS, Youth Red Cross and Rotaract Club. The college is actively involved in many extension activities and the Peer Team recommends that the following to be added to programmes of the NSS.
a. Literacy Campaigns
b. Leadership Development Programmes
c. Environmental Education
d. Village adoption
e. Adult Education Camps
f. Empowering the rural poor and particularly women
g. Afforestation programmes
The Peer Team recommends the ideal location of the colleges may be exploited and to make an impact on the neighbourhood. The college is located on the banks of river Cauvery which is something unique and this special locational advantages should be utilised by developing the surroundings of the campus and also reviving the Boating Club. Many programmes could be arranged to involve students, parents and local citizens. It is gratifying to note that several faculty members actively involved in many organizations doing social service like Rotary, Lion and other voluntary agencies. This would go a long way in building the image of the faculty and the college better.
The Peer Team understands that there is limited scope for offering consultancy. However the faculty should explore the possibilities of associating themselves with many micro level local problems so that the community feels their involvement and it need not be for monetary reasons alone.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The college owns a campus of 20 acres at an ideal suburban location on the banks of the river Cauvery. A detailed master plan showing the future areas of expansion needs to be prepared. There are more than 52 classrooms and other departmental facilities like laboratories, and departmental libraries, they are adequate to ensure satisfactory functioning of the academic programmes of the college. Rs.19 Lakhs has been allotted to build a separate block for the Controller of Examinations and for MCA classrooms of which Rs.9 lakhs is from the college savings. However, the Peer Team recommends that the maintenance of the infrastructure be attended to immediately as it is not satisfactory. It is learnt that Rs.50,000/- is to be used for the beautification of the campus in the next academic year. The Management can take up the task of renovating the buildings, laying beautiful lawns and tree planting work on the vacant land in the campus both for purposes of beautification and modernization of the Institution complex.
The departmental libraries are being strengthened. But the facilities and general condition of the general library are to be improved. A reading room with 100-sq. m. area is not adequate for more than 1500 students. Cataloging of books, free access to the library, allowing more time for using the library outside the class hours, book bank facility, computerisation of the library, internet facilities, facility for photocopying etc. are yet to be added to the general library. The computer facility available in some departments is made use of by all students.
The play grounds are adequate to encourage sports activities. The Team appreciates the facility offered through the gymnasium.
The hostel facilities most be improved. Scarcity of good drinking water, lack of cleanliness, especially in living rooms, and toilets in the Victoria Jubilee Hostel run by the college, need immediate rectification.
Criterion V: Student Support and Progression
In general, students of this college are happy to study here. Few students get admission in the professional courses and discontinue studying here. Otherwise the drop out rate is not significant. According to the information gathered only 72% of the students pass after the minimum period of study. There is no formal mechanism to collect the feedback from the students except that few students may directly approach the teachers concerned with their problems in study.
The prospectus is updated by a team of teachers annually and this is useful for candidates to get information regarding admission procedures.
The tutorial system whereby every student gets a chance to get personal and academic guidance is found to be very useful. The career counselling facility is made use of by few students. 30% of the students avail themselves of government loans for their study students of lower socio–economic standing benefit from this facility. A placement cell is yet to be started.
Although there is an Alumni Association it is does not function well. The drinking water facility provided to the students with the help of the alumni is a positive sign. If the Alumni Association is activated then there can be great improvements in the development of the college. Regular medical checkup of the students, health insurance, maintenance of health records etc. may be introduced for the welfare of the students.
Criterion VI: Organisation and Management
Internal Co-ordinating and monitoring is done by the Principal and the Staff Council which contains of all Heads of Departments. It is a good practice that the academic calendar is prepared by a team of teachers every year by rotation. It will be useful to give the names of committees in the college calendar. This will help the students to get timely help from the committees concerned. It is commendable that six of the clerical staff members were given basic training in the use of computers.
The college could generate an amount of Rs. 46000/- through the Alumni Association for the development of the college. Other then the regular donations collected from each student for PTA during admission no other serious attempts were made by the PTA for the development of the college. The proposal to review the PTA is a welcome sign. Although a reserve fund of RS. 3 lakhs is with the PTA there is no evidence that PTA is actively interested in using that money for the maintenance of the college or for other improvements of the infrastructure. The financial management is very perfect due to government audit mechanism.
Teaching and non-teaching benefit from the welfare schemes staff offered through the Co-operative Society is a good practice. Employees get loans for purchase of vehicles, house construction and for the education of their children.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The institution has adopted certain healthy approaches which are noteworthy. These include
1. A continuous parent-teacher interaction to exchange views about the overall functioning of the institution. Parents consult the faculty members on various issues with special reference to the selection of optional subjects by their sons and daughters who study in the institution.
2. The college has adopted the tutorial system in order to provide individual attention and to get direct feedback from the students about their conceptual understanding and application ability. This also helps to develop an intimate rapport between the teachers and the students.
3. The computerization of the examination wing and the consequent quick processing of the results are commendable.
4. Creation of a corpus fund of Rs.3,000,00 which is kept at the disposal of the Parent Teacher Association for utilising the amount for selected development activities with total judicious discrimination is praiseworthy. The present corpus fund which is the contribution of the students at the rate of Rs.50 at the time of admission can be further raised to a sizable amount with contributions from philanthropists and the Alumni Association.
5. The introduction of M.Phil and Ph.D. programmes is yet another healthy practice in the institution.
6. In the case of examinations, the students are entitled to apply for revaluation and retotalling. The institution supplies photo copies of the answer papers on payment on the basis of which students decide the need for revaluation or recounting which is indeed a healthy practice.
7. All the scholarship holders in the institution should satisfy the condition of 75 % attendance lest they forfeit their right to scholarship. The financial assistance is also given in the form of loan scholarships to enable economically backward students to pursue education. The government has the mechanism to recover the loan advanced to students, once they complete their education.
8. The college has established the Alumni Association which is actively involved in decision making and the overall functioning of the institution.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
The visiting team, after going through the self study report presented by the college and after its interaction with the management and the members of the faculty, visited all the departments to satisfy itself with the academic and physical facilities available in the institution. It has evident to the group felt that considering the past glory of the institution, no significant development has taken place in recent years. The college which is probably the oldest institution in the country with many laurels to its credit in the past and the involvement of several outstanding scholars with great vision and insight during the last 150 years should have grown into a multiversity in the region. Contrary to its reputation as the Cambridge of South India, the college remains as one of the part ordinary institutions in the region and functions under the administrative control of the governmental beaurocracy. The programmes offered by the institution, barring a few exceptions, are highly conventional, both in content and methodology. The college has qualified faculty but are not sufficiently exposed to various developments in the field of higher education either in the country or abroad. In the context of exponential growth of knowledge and increasing number of specializations in higher education, the institution needs to develop many collaborative programmes with other advanced centres of learning in the country. However this cannot be viewed as a failure on the part of the faculty or the immediate management of the institution as the major decisions are still made by the government and these decisions are mandatory for the institution. While the Peer Team felt that the institution lags behind in processes of modernization, the original vision and goals are still retained to a great extent. As stated earlier, the institution caters for the needs of the deprived sections of society and imparts free education without charging any fee. The principle of equality of educational opportunity is the guiding force behind every policy decision of the college like the admission criteria, the fee structure, the student welfare measures like scholarship and educational loan.
Concern for the career opportunities of students, with an emphasis on student discipline and the overall personality development are worth mentioning. The Peer Team recommends that the institution should start several new courses with choice based credit system with more flexibility to enable the students to exercise their choice and freedom in the selection of subjects.
A few important changes are recommended for the consideration of the faculty, the Management and government which include:
1. Introduction of a wide range of job oriented vocational courses
2. Concerted efforts to restructure the curriculum and introduce new courses with necessary financial support and autonomy.
3. Considerable importance should be given for the departmental seminars and project work as an important part of instruction technology. The college should plan a few collaborative programmes with a few selected centres of excellence situated both in the state and outside for exchange of knowledge and information in order to create additional, physical and human infrastructurel facilities.
A group of institutions should come together and establish central instrumentation and information disseminating centres for the benefit of colleges. Such a method becomes imperative in view of limited resources – both physical and human. Computerization of the library should be taken up on a high priority basis. The library has to be modernized by providing facilities like CD ROM etc. The library has to be strengthened further by providing considerable funds or by raising financial resources for this purpose. The faculty should be deputed to short term service programmes for updating knowledge. Many teachers in the institution need to improve their qualification. The teaching faculty should take advantage of the Faculty Improvement Programme for improving their qualification and knowledge through research.
The institution should approach the UGC and other agencies for necessary financial support for the purchase of new equipment for the labs. This needs serious consideration as almost all the laboratories in the institution are not adequately equipped for research activities. The college should create a few important cells like
1. Placement Programme Cell
2. Consultancy and Resources Mobilization Cell
3. Guidance and Counselling Cell
The Peer Team appreciates steps taken in this direction by the college. A speedy implementation of such proposals is necessary for its development. The faculty expressed their reservation about the present union system of election in the college which according to many members has become a source of menace and causes concern. This issue needs to be debated with parents, students, the community and the officials of the government concerned. A final decision has to taken in the interest of the institution. When the student’s union does not serve the purpose for which it has been created, it needs careful examination and, if need be, it may be abolished. All teachers should be given orientation/training in computers to enable them acquire minimum skills to operate and work with computers.