Assessment Report of
Institutional Accreditation of
Holy Cross College, Tiruchirappalli
Holy Cross College is an autonomous college, for women, affiliated to Bharathidasan University. It is located in the heart of the town of Tiruchirappalli and is run by Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. The college is a minority institution catering to the Catholic community and other communities of that area. It was established in 1923 and has recently completed 75 years of existence. Autonomous status to the college was granted in 1987. At present the college has 18 UG, 8 PG, 3 Diploma, 2 PG diploma and 2 Ph.D. program options. Autonomy status gave the college freedom to determine the courses of study and syllabi, prescribe rules of admission subject to the policy of the government and to introduce newer methods of examination and evaluation. Over its long period of existence the college has done meritorious service to the cause of women in the field of higher education.
Section II : Parameter-wise Analysis
Parameter 1:Goals and Objectives
The college has set for itself clear aims and objectives, which is to strive for academic excellence through imparting of value based knowledge. Among the many laudable objectives the striking ones are the attempt to build genuine human relationships among students, awaken social consciousness and to prepare socially responsible citizens. Recently, it re-accented its goals to focus on serving the educational needs of the Dalit Catholics and rural poor students. Reflecting high ideals, the college has done commendable service to the community it aims to serve. The admission policy of the college is deigned to help socially and economically weaker sections of the women members of society. About half of its students are from families in which they are the first generation learners.
Parameter 2:Curriculum Design and Review
An updated curriculum, continuous internal assessment, tutorials, counselling, and parent teacher meetings have ensured academic excellence. Moving beyond the core subjects, all undergraduate students take one paper on either Christian Scriptures or ethics, which has been designed to promote better human values among the students. Another remarkable feature in the curriculum is that the undergraduate students also take one paper which is oriented towards extension activities and community service / sports and physical education More over, all the students take one applied paper in computer familiarization. An innovative course (both in under graduate and post-graduate programs) offered in the college is in Rehabilitation Science. This course is unique to the college. It is designed to generate human resources catering to physically handicapped sections of the society. It is a model of a novel program with a vocational component and constructive national and international linkages.
The college has a well-organized mechanism for curriculum development which responds either to the user agencies (students/parents/employers) or the establishment (faculty/ principal/management members). However, a well-laid plan for future development of curriculum will avoid ‘adhochism’ in the choice of some allied papers/units in the syllabus. The curriculum has been consciously designed to give value-based education to students with indigenously developed guide to value education in the classroom. There is a compulsory project paper for post-graduate programs, which ensures initiation into research work. Presently, there is very little choice across disciplines for students in the selection of courses for completing a particular degree. Choice based course selection will help students to design their own curriculum depending on their abilities and inclinations. The credit mode of education may promote this aspect of the learning process. It will also inculcate interdisciplinary attitudes among the students. The Human Resources Development Cell has complimentary certificate courses in Tailoring, Journalism and Music, which represents a vocational element in college program.
Parameter 3:Teaching Learning and Evaluation
There is ample evidence that the college follows an open system of admission without recourse to donations or capitation fees. The admission is on the basis of the previous marks record and interview, excepting for rehabilitation science for which a written test is conducted for selection. The members of faculties were found to be highly dedicated to teaching as reflected in the student-teacher evaluation reports. There is evidence of a well-defined teaching plan for the courses. Following the directive of the UGC, syllabi of all the courses have been unitized (five units). However, there is some room for improvement of the learning processes, through the methodical introduction of bridge or remedial courses in all subjects to the deficient students who come with a vernacular background. Recognition and rewarding of teachers who introduce innovative teaching methods to help weaker students will also promote the cause.
The college has evolved 40:60 break-up between internal and end-semester evaluation. It is laudable that 10% of the marks have been allotted to seminar / quiz and this aspect improves the interactive learning process. The internal evaluation is transparent and by and large students are satisfied with the arrangement. Students seem to be highly satisfied with end-semester evaluation also, since only about 10 of had them applied for re-evaluation of answer scripts in the last semester. Follow up on the students taking National/State competitive tests (UGC/CSIR NET) is desirable.
The selection of the faculty is fair with 70% weightage given to their teaching abilities. Students appreciate the commitment shown by the faculty towards teaching. The syllabus of a particular course is reviewed once in three years through the Board of Studies, which has external members and student representation. The college encourages up-gradation of teaching abilities of the faculty by deputing them to refresher courses/FIP where ever possible. Acquiring the latest textbooks and college-education-oriented journals in the library would help to further upgrade teaching abilities. About 45% of the lecturers in the college are retained on an ad hoc basis. The college may provide enrichment lectures for these lecturers since they are not able to attend refresher programs of the UGC.
Parameter 4:Research and Publications
The high percentage of faculty having research level degrees (91%) testifies to the immense research potential available in the college. However, only about 10% of the faculty members are actively involved in continuing research activity. This may be due to a built-in system of constraints under which the college functions, such as heavy teaching load, lack of instrumental facilities and gender related issues. In spite of the above limitations, research papers of some of the faculty members (English, Physics and Botany, Rehabilitation Science and Economics) have been accepted in reputed journals. Some faculty members have published books and presented papers at conferences. It can be noted that the college promotes research culture by giving study leave where ever possible, duty leave for collection of materials, providing funds for attending conferences and compulsory project work for post graduate studies. Some faculty members secured projects from external funding agencies such as the UGC. The college can promote research culture further by subscribing to research journals in the library, rewarding the faculty who get funding from external agencies through competitive research proposals (by reducing the teaching load marginally), and encouraging collaborative research projects with reputed institutions in and around Tiruchirappalli. Formulating a clear research policy and appointing a co-ordinator to oversee research activity will considerably strengthen this important area.
Parameter 5:Consultancy and Extension
The college has a strong extension program, which has been linked to part IVB of the curriculum in the undergraduate program. In real terms this means that all the students and faculty of the college participate in the extension activity. This activity includes several socially relevant programs in community development, health, women empowerment and environmental awareness. There are many student associations oriented towards this activity. Valuable work is being done in city slums and rural panchayats in and around Tiruchirapally. The projects have been funded by international agencies such as UBCHEA and SOULE. In keeping with the objects of the management of the college, the consultancy work is not being done with the intent of generation of finances, however some faculty members are providing consultancy in rural development and women’s empowerment.
Paramter 6:Organization and Management
The autonomous status of the college has made its functioning vibrant, participative and evaluative. Several statutory bodies, which have been formed as per the requirement of the UGC, oversee the effective organization and management of the institution. The teacher, student and staff associations are functioning well and the accessibility of the principal and management provides an amicable atmosphere in which problems are resolved before intensifying into grievances. The college can benefit from having a complete policy on management, faculty selection and appraisal Over-reliance on traditional methods might inhibit the infusion of new dynamism into managerial functions. It is evident that the management recognizes the meritorious services of the staff and provides financial help in times of need and opportunities for personal growth.
Paramter 7:Infrastructure Facilities
The current institutional intake of students standing at 3576, with 800 of them availing of hostel facilities has grown beyond any original estimate. The infrastructure has grown with yearly additions, the most recent being the computer centre building. The beautiful chapel in the centre of the campus acts as a nexus of college activity. Two open-air stages provide natural assembly areas. An indoor auditorium or an amphi-theatre is worth considering in the future. The facilities for sports and games are quite adequate. Maintenance and cleanliness in the campus is commendable. The management takes care of the drinking water requirement of the students by proper testing and the provision enough taps. A lunch pavilion, a parking facility for vehicles and waiting rooms for the evening college students may be provided by the college.
Paramter 8:Support Services
The library is maintained in a methodical manner. The open access system and library hours in the timetable are beneficial to the students. Incentives such as extra cards and longer hours in the library may be given to the PG students or high achievers. Placing the call numbers on the spine of the library books would facilitate their retrieval from the stacks. Computerization of the library, an Internet connection, an lNFLIBNET connection and a FAX facility, which are already envisaged, would enhance the on-going process of automation.
The hostels are well maintained despite the large number of inmates. The health centre too is useful as a first aid facility, but the presence of a medical doctor would be beneficial to the inmates of the hostel. A large number of students are receipients of government scholarships and receive help from other endowments.
Paramter 9:Student Feedback and Counselling
The management effectively disseminates information and collects feedback and analyses the data from the user agencies. The feedback has proved to be a positive force for evaluation and change. The Student Service Centre and Human Resources Development Centre (HRD) could provide better counselling and reinforcement in areas where student’s insufficiencies are identified and remedial measures are suggested. The personality development courses, coaching classes for competitive and entrance tests, placement and self-employment suggestions, offered by the HRD centre is appreciated by the students particularly from the rural background. Keeping the profiles of students will be helpful for both campus recruitment and alumni contact.
Paramter 10:Generation and Management of Resources
The sound practices of the college in finance management are highly appreciable. No donation/capitation fee is collected. The difference in fee structure of the aided programs and the unaided programs initiated by the college is modest. However, policy must not constrain the authorities from finding linkages with local government, industry/government funding agencies and alumni to achieve a degree of financial autonomy, which alone can support and sustain academic autonomy.
Section III: Overall Analysis
The Holy Cross College (Autonomous), Tiruchirapally has set before itself clear educational and ethical objectives that form an integral part of the broad vision of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod. Being inspired by the Gospel teachings they have always endeavoured and are still striving to realize this noble vision through their several educational and social activities. After obtaining autonomy in 1987 the college introduced a number of new courses and restructured some of the existing UG and PG programs. The courses in the Department of Rehabilitation Science are particularly notable. A great deal of innovations and insight is visible in the efforts of this department. The peer team felt that the dynamism and original thinking displayed in starting and sustaining the activities of the Department of Rehabilitation Science could be vigorously followed in other academic areas as well, for their positive bearing on educational and social advancement will be immense and unique. Such determined pursuits in newer lines of academic activities could not only enhance the utility of the institution to the public at large but also will be a fitting tribute to the cause of autonomy that the college has consciously chosen.
Attaining autonomy was a landmark achievement of Holy Cross College and the present search for greater excellence through the assessment and accreditation process is certainly a right step in that direction. It is a responsible act. The college deserves every encouragement. The Holy Cross College (Autonomous) seems to have reached a take-off stage and the team commends the institution for the following:
1. The wide range of programme options designed to cater to the needs of user agencies have strengthened the curriculum.
2. A well planned and organised syllabus and a properly drawn-up teaching plan have resulted in a learner centred approach to effective teaching-learning process.
3. A large number of faculty members with research background has been an encouraging factor which has resulted in the promotion of research culture, publication of papers and undertaking research projects.
4. The good infrastructure facilities with proper utilisation and maintenance have facilitated smooth functioning of evening college and other add-on course.
5. The recruitment of well qualified faculty members has enhanced the quality of teaching-learning programmes.
6. Devotion to the cause of teaching and utmost efficiency exhibited by the academic staff in their day today work and personal care and interest taken in the academic well-being of the students have resulted in a happy teacher-student relationship.
7. The clear course objectives and outcomes of learning explicitly stated by some departments.
8. The periodic assessment of students through internal assessment and semester examinations.
9. The initiatives taken through external activities have sensitised students to social realities and promoted their goodwill among the community.
· The Peer team while appreciating the efforts of the college in providing up-to-date curriculum suggests that the introduction of choice based courses will help students to design their own curriculum depending on their abilities and preferences.
· The members of the team are appreciative of the collegial atmosphere within the campus but suggest that the formulation of a policy on management, selection and appraisal will infuse new ideas into the managerial functions which has hitherto been very traditional.
· The strengthening of counselling and placement services will provide a good base for student development and interaction with outside agencies.
· The team while appreciating the institution for the management of its finances suggests that the establishment of linkages with local and national bodies will help it achieve a degree of financial autonomy.
· Computerisation of the library and internal networking of all departments may provide the impetus needed for automation.
· Consultancy activities may be initiated to make available the college expertise to the immediate neighbourhood.