The Kuriakose Elias College Mannanam, Kerala is one of the premier institutes in the state of Kerala affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala. The College has spacious buildings built on a 20-acre campus situated on a hillock overlooking the scenic backdrop of the backwaters of upper Kuttanadu against a dense green belt. The College offers pre-degree, degree, and postgraduate courses in three faculties, arts, science, commerce. The college at present has 13 departments, 90 faculty members, 60 non-teaching staff and 2370 students inclusive of pre-degree students. In the degree and postgraduate programmes there are about 1800 students. The Government of Kerala has taken the decision to de-link the pre-degree programme from others in all colleges.
The Kuriakose Elias College, Kerala has volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore and has made an institutional self study for the purpose and submitted a report. NAAC constituted a peer team to visit the institution and validate the self study report. The Peer Team comprising Prof. M. Malla Reddy, former Vice Chancellor, Osmania University, Hyderabad as Chairman, Dr. P. Ramanathan, former Registrar of M.S. University and currently Head of the Department of Physics, Sri Parama kalyani College, Alwarkurchi, Tamil Nadu, Dr. (Mrs) Anne Mary Ferandez, Professor of Economics, Holy Cross College (Autonomous), Trichirappalli, Tamil Nadu, as members. The team visited Kuriakose Elias College, Mannanam, Kottayam, Kerala on 11th, 12th and 13th October 1999. Dr. Latha Pillai, Deputy Advisor, NAAC and Mr. Ponmudiraj, Academic Professional, NAAC, ably co-ordinated the work of the Peer Team during its visit to the college.
The Kuriakose Elias College, Mannanam, Kottayam, Kerala was established in 1964. It is a minority denominational institution managed by the congregation of Carmalites of Mary Imaaculate (CMI) which is a Roman Catholic Syrian minority community. It imparts sound moral training and secular education to men and women belonging to all caste and communities. The College aims at preparing leaders who are intellectually comp etent, spiritually mature and morally upright, and who will campaign for the cause of justice and peace and be ever open to further growth.
The Peer Team meticulously analyzed the self-study report submitted by the institution. During the three-day visit to the College, the Peer Team went through all pertinent documents, visited the departments and the facilities – academic, extra-curricular, sports and extension of the degree and post-graduate programmes of the institution. The Peer Team interacted with the Governing Body, the Management Committee, the Principal, faculty, non-teaching staff, and representatives of students, parents and alumnae of the College. Based on the above exercise the Peer Team has given its objective assessment in the ensuing pages, keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.
The college is affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University of Kottayam. It follows the syllabus offered by the university for all its courses of study. At the degree level the curriculum allows students to choose any one combination out of the five offered for a BSc degree. The subjects offered are mathematics, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, and biochemistry. Students major in any one of the above subjects while studying two others at the subsidiary level. For the B.A. degree the college offers three sets of subject combinations, with a provision to major in English or economics or psychology. B.com students are allowed to specialise in either cost accountancy or computer applications. Of the four post graduate courses offered, students have the previlege of specialisation in electronics, analytical chemistry, industrial organisation and computer applications . Thus the curriculum offers certain inbuilt choices and specialisation for the students.
Though an affiliated college, more than 10% of the staff are actively involved in the university curriculum reform process. The faculty also keep themselves abreast of changes in curriculum through workshops and seminars conducted by the university and other organisations like the All Kerala Private College Teachers Association (AKPCTA). Many departments have visualised new vocational courses to be incorporated as a part of their future plans. At present, however, most of the subjects offered are conventional and lend themselves very little to build vocational and job oriented skills among students. There is a need to re- structure the current areas of specialisation offered in computer applications, electronics, analytical chemistry, biochemistry. psychology and information technology. The present system of offering certificate courses and diplomas in computer studies and student guidance and counselling can be extended to offer other job oriented courses in various other disciplines.
Criterion II: Teaching Learning and Evaluation
Around 40% of the staff of the college have attained research degrees and about 15% of the staff continue to contribute to research through publications at the national and international levels. Around 6% of the staff have published various text-books in different disciplines for undergraduate and postgraduate students. The college is gifted with some faculty members who are prolific writers with significant literary and scientific publications to their credit. However, research activities are undertaken only in a few departments like – Hindi, physics, chemistry and psychology [two of these departments have minor projects] and the rest of the departments have yet to emulate the research culture. The introduction of project work for postgraduate and graduate students is a step in the right direction to inculcate research culture. It is suggested that a concerted effort be made to promote research, using all the facilities provided by the UGC and the university for promoting research in the college. This will enable the institution to achieve a new dimension of excellence which is essential for the dynamic progress of the institution in the area of higher education.
The College has well planned and focussed extension activities which aim at inculcating social concern and awareness among students. A wide range of activities like house building, road making, campus cleaning, blood donation, literacy campaign, gender equality campaigns, supply of clothes and medicines to the poor etc. are conducted regularly by the college through its various clubs and organizations. These activities reflect the goal of the college to promote an equitable and just society through peaceful means. The outreach programmes of the department of English through its remedial English grammar classes for high school students; and the Departments of physics and chemistry, in training teachers to motivate high school students to participate in Mathematics and Science exhibitions is particularly commendable.
Though the college does not have any formal policy on consultancy many faculty members are actively involved as consultants to various organizations, institutions and other persons seeking advice. The Department of psychology offers counselling to students and members of the public. Faculty members from the Departments of mathematics, physics and commerce are members of the people’s grass-root planning committee and district level planning committees. A faculty member from the Department of physics has successfully designed and constructed a smoke house for drying natural rubber sheets. The Commerce department offers consultancy on income tax and sales tax. The institution can in future utilise the expertise of the faculty to generate resources by framing suitable policy guidelines for consultancy.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning process
Kuriakose Elias College is located in a beautiful and spacious 20 acre campus. The campus is located upon a beautiful hillock facing the backwaters of upper Kuttanad. The campus is well maintained with planned garden layouts. The campus presents a congenial atmosphere for the serious pursuit of knowledge. The college building has spacious class rooms, laboratories, library, auditorium, canteen and play ground with stadium, separate day care centres for men and women students with toilet facilities. Infrastructure facilities now available are intended for more than 2000 students including PDC students. When PDC is completely delinked from the college, the existing facilities will be made available exclusively for the degree and PG courses. The College has plans to start MCA and some diploma courses under the distance education mode offered by IGNOU. Apart from this, the college has plans to start a few courses under existing norms and conditions laid down by the university and the government of Kerala.
The Library is located in a spacious building in two floors covering an area of 11,000 square feet. The College Library consists of 37,923 books and 78 periodicals and journals. Open access system is followed for issue of books. Fresh students are given training regarding the use of the library for updating their knowledge. A few computer terminals are available in the library and those computers are to be used for accession and issue of books. Separate reading room facilities are available for both UG and PG students. If INFLIBNET facility is made available at the computer terminals of the library, students and faculty will get access to other libraries in India and abroad. This will help them to develop a research culture in the college campus.
The college has a centrally located computer centre with 18 PCs (Pentium II and Pentium III machines). A few terminals are provided with multimedia facilities. A faculty member of the statistics department is in charge of the centre. The Management has taken initiative to impart computer knowledge to the student community by offering two levels of diploma courses in computer applications on its own. The computer centre functions on all working days from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. The centre has e-mail and internet facilities. Keeping in view the significance of computer knowledge, the college may introduce flexibility in the time table to enable everyone to utilise these facilities in future.
There is a long list of students who have brought laurels to the college by winning trophies and prizes in sports and games at the university, inter-university, state and national level competitions. More than 60% of the university women volleyball team are from this college. This gives ample proof of the sports facilities available in the college campus and also of the training given to students in sports as well.
In general, the campus is kept clean and the gardens are well maintained. It is worth mentioning here that the college has won several awards from the horticultural society, Kottayam.
It was observed during interaction with faculty, that audio-visual media facilities are limited. The College can consider the development of a centralised media facility. This may facilitate teachers to increase the use of modern teaching technologies in the class rooms.
The college provides two hostels for women:
1. Pope John Hostel and
2. Holy Family Hostel
These hostels together accommodate 280 students in 70 rooms. Each hostel has a warden assisted by elected student representatives. Among the students representatives, a III DC or PG student is designated as Prefect and Assistant.
Special representatives are elected for cultural, social and religious activities. To create social awareness among hostel students the hostel wardens arrange visits to cancer wards at the Government Medical College and Navajeevan Home for the mentally sick. The unique feature of the hostel is the annual meeting of the old and the present students of the hostel. The students of the hostel feel that every day is a very happy day in their hostel life. The warden of the hostel may consider creating a small library facility and reading room in the hostel.
Criterion V: Student support and progression
The college publishes an annually updated prospectus giving details of the courses offered, co-curricular activities organised, fee structure, admission procedures, scholarships and financial aids to students, hostel facilities etc. The College is held in very high esteem by alumni, parents and student for its overall achievements. There is a growing demand for admission to this institution. The college is able to provide admission only for about 20% of the students who seek admission to various departments in view of the maximum strength permitted by the university. On an average 17-20% students leave the institution before they complete their course and examination in the prescribed period. As no definite information is available with regard to such students due to lack of data, this drop out problem cannot be construed as wastage in higher education. In the opinion of some teachers, 7-10% of these students seek admission to technical courses and discontinue the college whenever they succeed. However it is necessary that the college takes up the responsibility of ‘follow up action’ for institutional record. Performance of students in the annual examination is nearly 85% which is higher than the overall percentage of passes in the Mahatma Gandhi University. Information regarding progress and employment and further study is not scientifically maintained. Nevertheless, a few students who have occupied prominent positions in the region are associated with the college through the Alumni Association.
Financial aid is provided to few students by way of scholarships instituted by bodies such as the Parent Teacher Association, individual departments and benefactors. In addition to this, regular state and central government scholarships are available for eligible candidates. Several prizes, trophies and cash awards have been instituted for top scorers in various disciplines annually to promote academic excellence. This College has not gathered any information with regard to success of students in examinations like NET, GATE, IAS, GRE, TOFEL, GMAT etc. We recognise the fact it is not easy to collect the information. Despite this limitation, the college should make an earnest effort to gather this information by creating a broad-based placement cell, which can take up many multiple activities and provide a strong support of infrastructure to student development.
Sports scholarships and incentive schemes like free hostel facilities for women basket ball players etc. encourage students to excel in sports. The career guidance bureau conducts career awareness programmes and guides students effectively in their pursuits for jobs and higher studies. Several organisations, clubs, forums and associations, promote the all round development of the student through extra curricular activities like debates, quiz, group discussion, general awareness, exhibition and other cultural talent competitions. The college has a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism which works effectively to resolve all disputes peacefully. It is commendable that work in the institution has never been stalled by strikes and protests. Alumni associations are organised informally at the department level, steps can be taken to strengthen the activities of the associations at the institutional level. This will help the institution to utilise the services of the alumni to fund various programmes for the welfare of the staff and students of the college. There is a well organised system of obtaining feed back from students about different aspects of college life. Similar feed backs can be obtained from alumni, parents, peers, employers and benefactors so as to facilitate perspective planning for the institution’s future growth.
Criterion VI: Organisation and Management
Kuriakose Elias College is owned by Saint Joseph’s monastery, Mannanam. It comes under the purview of the chapter and education committee of the monastery. The general management of the College rests with the governing body. The ex-officio president of the governing body is the Piror of St. Joseph monastery who is the manager of the college. The other members of the governing body are appointed by the Manager as per the norms of the college. The governing body renders advice and support to the Manager. The organisational structure is basically a three tier structure and the Manager is the highest authority assisted by the Governing Body. The Manager is vested with the following powers:
1. Formulation of policies and guidelines in relation to functioning of the college
2. Mobilization of resources
3. Building infrastructure
4. Taking policy decisions in the matter of new courses
5. Recruitment and promotion of faculty and staff
6. Acting as apex authority to redress grievances and to initiate disciplinary actions.
The next authority in the organisational structure is the Principal. The Principal is advised on the academic and administrative side by the College Council. The College Council consists of the following members:
1. All the Heads of the Departments
2. Vice Principal
3. Two teachers other than the HOD by election from among the teachers.
4. The secretary of the college teachers’ association
The governing body has designated the principal as the chief officer of the college with the following powers:
1. Processing admissions
2. Setting general time table
3. Fixing academic calendar
4. Condonation of attendance
5. Conducting university examinations
6. Placement and promotion of faculty and staff
7. Sanctioning leave
8. Directing union and association activities of students
9. Maintaining overall discipline
10. Work distribution to staff
11. General supervision
12. Financing new projects
13. Financing purchase and maintenance
14. Appropriation of funds
15. Collection and remittance of fees
16. Collection and disbursement of salary
The College council assists the Principal in the above matters and Principal takes decisions based on the advice of the college council. However, the Principal is vested with veto power to veto the majority advice of the council and get the concurrence from the Vice Chancellor of the university for deviating from the major decision taken in the council.
The third authority in the organization is the Head of the Department. The following power are given to the HODs by the Principal:
1. Allocating the work to the faculty and staff of the department
2. Monitoring their work
3. Setting the department time-table
4. Chairing the departmental association
5. Chairing the departmental grievance cell
It is commendable to note that the powers and responsibilities are distributed and the responsibility percolates from the top to the bottom. The Management conducts staff development programmes for the non-teaching staff. The government of Kerala allocates Rs. 2 crores annually to the college including the Pre-degree. 95% of this amount is spent towards salary. The total budget allocation for the college is around 2.4 crores. The college has a number of welfare schemes for its faculty and staff through a co-operative society. The society advances both long term and short term loans to the faculty and staff. The Management encourages sports persons (students) by offering monthly incentives (cash payment) to students who perform very well at the university as well as state levels.
It is recommended that the office staff be given training in computers and office automation will help to improve the efficiency. It is also advisable that salaries are paid through bank.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The following healthy practices have been in vogue for the past 10 to 12 years.
· Open house evaluation with parents, teachers and students
· Attendance component in the internal assessment
· Remedial and bridge courses
· Annual social gathering of former and present teachers of the college
· Department-wise career guidance and centralised counselling centre
· Participatory management
· Active involvement of PTA in the development of the college
· Welfare schemes through co-operative society for staff & students separately.
These healthy practices have created a humane atmosphere in the college which in turn helps the teaching, learning process.
The Kuriakose Elias College was founded in the year 1964 by a galaxy of priests of CMI congregation. The College is named after the Christian Religious Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara who devoted his life for the cause of human welfare and salvation of their problems much before national in dependence. Self-study report rightly observed that the success of Kuriakose Elias College can be attributed to the philosophy and patronage of the management, the devotion and commitment of the teachers and to bright students seeking admissions to this esteemed institution.
As a result, the College is in a position to effectively achieve its goals, vision and multiple missions. The College has over the years evolved into an institution which is distinctly different from many other institutions in the country. The institution is a close knit community of members of Management, teachers and students where every learner is an active participant. Institutional traditions and the ethos built over the years reflect a sense of belonging and experience of success and achievement.
The commitment of teachers goes beyond the simple compliance of formal job requirements. They try to make life at work positive and meaningful. However, restricted academic freedom with reference to new programmes etc., the Institutional thrust is more on undergraduate teaching, learning and evaluation, than on research. Governance in this institution is rooted in the principle of democracy in education. Involvement of faculty in decision making as equal participants and transparency in the Management of its affairs are some of the important merits of this organization. Being a christian minority institution, there is bound to be a sense of belonging to the organisation; it promotes a greater degree of responsibility and personal commitment.
It is interesting to note that the Management and the Principal of the college are able to ensure accountability on the part of faculty and other employees by exercising the minimum degree of authority. Thus, by tradition, and through healthy conventions the institution has evolved into a close knit academic community with deep interpersonal commitment and human relations. The college believes in empowering of teachers for legitimate participation and freedom of expression. A due share of credit should be given to the enlightened principal Fr. Abraham Vallayil an unassuming person and a refined administrator.
The college has many achievements to its credit. The performance of the students in the examination, their participation in diverse curricular activities and the high sense of discipline evident in the institution, the rapport between teachers and students and a pervasive sense of solidarity in one and all, in brief, some of its achievements. Despite such significant achievements the Peer Group has noticed a syndrome of stagnation slowly setting into the institution, basically due to negative education policies in the state. It is noted with concern that the government does not encourage the policy of autonomy envisaged by apex bodies like UGC, and no private college can start a self-financing course. In the light of this background and on the basis of our intriguing analysis of the institutional functioning the following recommendations are made for the future development of the college:
1. Departments of economics, commerce, physics, chemistry are postgraduate departments. The Management should initiate steps to promote research in these departments.
2. In several other departments in spite of the competent faculty, the post-graduate courses have not been started yet. In view of the adequate infrastructure available, the college may introduce postgraduate courses in all such departments.
3. Some faculty members are not equipped with the knowledge of various developments in their respective fields. It is necessary that every faculty member should be exposed to the latest trends in their respective areas of specialisation. This can be achieved through their participation in the national and international seminars.
4. The college has considerable potential to take up a number of community activities and can slowly transform itself into a meaningful community centered institution. For this purpose, special seminars need to be conducted and decisions taken after careful deliberations by the faculty involving outside experts.
5. The college should develop linkages with other major institutions in the state and the country for continuous interaction and for updating their knowledge.
6. The college is contemplating to introduce some courses on a self-financing basis through distance mode under the jurisdiction of IGNOU. This has to be pursued with earnest efforts so as to implement the scheme as early as possible.
7. The college can prepare ‘special educational packages’ for offering enrichment programmes for the benefit of students preparing for competitive examinations. We came across, many bright students during our visit to the college, who can go through any difficult examination successfully. The existing career guidance cell should motivate and prepare such students for competitions.
8. Among parents and alumni, we found many enlightened and highly informed men and women, who can assist the institution in its overall development. It is noted with gratification that some of them are helping the institution in the mobilization of financial resources and creation of additional infrastructure by the donating books and computers. We feel that such rich community resource persons should be involved in formulating the future plans of this institution and for delivering essential lecturers from time to time.
9. The faculty expressed its genuine difficulties in undertaking research activities especially for want of the latest instruments and tools. The Peer Group is of the opinion that a group of christian missionary institutions in the region with collective effort and symbiotic approach can start a centralised instrumentation unit and knowledge dissemination centre for the benefit of the faculty. E-mail and internet facility helps in the translation of this concept into an effective ongoing process.
10. The college should prepare a master plan for its future development in consultation with professional experts in various areas of specialisation like industrialists, and enlightened community members. Planning is crucial and essential for further expansion.