Assessment Report of
Institutional Accreditation of
Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai
The Madurai Kamaraj University, a State University, was established in February 1966 with the passing of the Madurai University Act. Later, in 1978, the name of the university was changed into Madurai Kamaraj University. The university is situated in 745 acres of land, about 13 kilometers away from Madurai city on the Theni main road. It has an additional satellite campus comprising 25 acres of land in the heart of the city. The university has jurisdiction over six districts viz., Madurai, Dindigul, Mannar Thirumalai, Kamarajar, Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, Vaigai Veeran Alagumuthu and Ramanathapuram.. The university is recognized by the UGC under 2(f) and 12(b) of the UGC Act of 1956.
The university volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore and submitted the preliminary Self-study Report in May 1999. NAAC constituted a Peer Team to visit the university and validate the self-study report. The team members comprised Dr. T. Navaneeth Rao (Chairman), Former Vice-chancellor of the Osmania University; Dr. A.N.P. Ummerkutty (Member), Former Vice-chancellor of Calicut University; Dr. M. Madaiah (Member), Former Vice-chancellor of Mysore University; and Dr. Rajen Harshe (Member), Professor, University of Hyderabad. The peer team visited the university between the 26th and the 29th of July 1999, both days inclusive.
Ten schools and 81 departments function in the university. There are 112 colleges (of which 11 are autonomous) affiliated with the university. Three hundred and two members are on the teaching staff and 954 members are on the non-teaching and technical staff. There are about 1742 students in 46 PG programmes and 250 in 24 M.Phil. and 36 Ph.D. programmes in different disciplines. There are about 600 students enrolled in 13 diploma/certificate courses in the university. In addition, there are about 1.5 lakh students in the affiliated colleges/academic units. A large number of students (around 1.75 lakh) are enrolled in the Distance Education system of the university. The university academic programme operates on the Choice-Based Credit System in 18 departments from this year.
The peer team carefully perused and analyzed the self-study report submitted by the university. During the institutional visit, the team went through all relevant documents, visited the departments, reviewed the facilities and interacted with various constituents of the institution. The academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, sports and extension facilities of the institution were also visited. The peer team interacted with the Vice-chancellor, the Syndicate, the faculty, the senior officials, staff and students of the university and Principals of the affiliated colleges. 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.
Dr. Antony Stella, Deputy Advisor, NAAC has co-ordinated the visit of the team which enabled the committee to complete the work according to schedule without any difficulty. Prof. A. Gnanam, Chairman, NAAC was present during the entire visit and the peer team benefited very much from his wise counsel. The members of the peer committee are thankful to both of them.
Criterion I: Curricular Aspects
In addition, the university has been offering job specific vocational courses like Bio-Informatics, Lab Techniques, Instrumentation Techniques, Microbial Gene Technology, Information Technology, Hospital Management, NGO Management, Catering Technology, Bakery technology and Textile Technology. Academic programmes are reviewed and redesigned from time to time by BOS and Departmental Councils based on the feedback from peers, employers and students.
Considerable freedom and flexibility for the faculty to design relevant and innovative courses, and the wide options available for students have already earned reputation for the university. Students appreciate the services of the faculty and the university administration in advancing their knowledge.
The university is apparently taking appropriate steps to introduce Choice based Credit system (CBCS) in all the remaining departments/schools at the earliest. This would provide more academic flexibility and move towards further improvement in the quality of education under the semester system. The university may do well in diversifying further developing appropriate programmes of study.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
The teaching-learning process in the Madurai Kamaraj University presents a dynamic picture of a two-way flow, the one empowering students and the other stimulating teachers. The teacher-student ratio which is highly in favour of students has been effectively utilized for an all-round academic advancement of students in most departments. Though this overall ratio appears to be ideal, there appears to be some unevenness if one looks at the school/department levels. While some sectors have more teachers, there is great paucity in others; they cannot even meet the teaching needs. This has become a natural state of affairs where research is given top priority and where the lecture method has been partly replaced by others. Encouragement of active participation by students in initiatives such as seminars, project work, use of VCR and TV, OHPs, external visits etc. in the learning process has augumented the intrinsic value of the education imparted. The semester pattern, continuous internal assessment and tests to the extent of 40% of the total marks, introduction of CBCS in many departments (to be completed in all departments by next year, according to the authorities) etc. ensure good standards. Similarly, wide use of computers, and the inclusion of obligatory computer studies in the curriculum have modernised the methods of learning. Inclusion of representatives of industry and NGO in the boards of studies has made academic programmes more relevant to the needs of society.
The high quality of the teaching-learning process has created a research mind among great many students as was visibly evident among students of some science departments. The combination of teaching-learning processes and the pursuit of research as a supportive constituent, as found in some departments such as Bio-technology, Biological sciences, Chemistry etc., are comparable to those found in some of the best institutions in the country. However, all departments are not of equal merit in this respect. Some departments especially those which belong to the Humanities, Social Sciences and Languages are traditional in their approach and way of functioning. They hardly present any innovativeness. This disparity is visible both in the academic attainments of the students and in the job opportunities accessible to them. Absence of remedial or bridge courses for the first generation learners and for those who studied in Tamil medium is a weakness in the teaching-learning process in a university which especially serves a rural constituency.
The exam office procedures are totally computerised and that is indeed an achievement in view of the magnitude of the work. Results are published within two months after the completion of the last exam. Valuation is centralized and therefore fairly fast, though much is to be desired in this respect according to the feedback given by some Principals. However, some of the hangovers of the past seem to continue to shadow the improvements already achieved. The practice of “moderation” with discretionary powers given to the chairpersons of Boards of Examiners may not be a healthy practice in the long run. Marks are to be fully earned by students and not to be arbitrarily granted after a proper valuation of answer papers. One gets the impression from the information available that re-valuation is very ‘liberal’. Thousands of students apply for it, and most of them get a higher mark than that they have received in the original valuation. Re-valuation needs closer scrutiny. In a closely monitored system the possibility of setting erroneous question papers is remote. The deficiencies in the evaluation system listed above need immediate removal through the expeditious action of the authorities.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
In its endeavour to enhance the scope of higher studies the university promotes M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes in most of its departments. It also encourages post doctoral research in some departments. Over the years, the process of conducting research has been carefully institutionalised through the research committee chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. The committee looks into all the problems of research scholars, from the registration stage till they get their degrees. In this process students are encouraged to build communicative skills in the English language, participate in weekly seminars and conduct field studies. Their interaction with the faculty is quite fruitful.
A vast majority of the faculty is actively engaged in research. At the moment, 20 research projects of the faculty are being funded by DBT, MES, UGC, DST Ford Foundation etc. In addition six departments are recognised under DSA. The faculty has been able to develop research culture by publishing in national and international journals and by participating in major conferences in their respective fields. It also needs to be noted that the faculty has won several prestigious awards, including Bhatnagar Award, and fellowships. The university administration, in its turn, has tried to support the quest for research by granting autonomy to schools and through various incentives to principal research investigators such as promotions, monitory awards, etc.
The university is trying to promote consultancy services through its interaction with industry. This interaction is mediated through the Industrial Consultancy Group(ICG) established under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor. The university has already taken up consultancy work of different magnitudes ranging from Rs.5000 to Rs.7 lakhs. Some of the science schools, namely, School of Biological Sciences, School of Energy, Environment and Natural Sciences and School of Bio-Technology are in the forefront in rendering consultancy services.
Notwithstanding these impressive achievements, the committee also was struck by a conspicuous asymmetry in the overall performance in research as well as in consultancy between the natural and social sciences. The committee also noted that the university conducts many routine extension activities involving social work and community work through NSS and other agencies.
The university has the main campus at Palkalainagar with a number of buildings to accommodate the administrative offices of the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, the Finance Officer, the Controller of Examinations, and other administrative sections, on a 745 acre land and a satellite campus of 25 acres in the city. To accommodate the academic institutions enough number of buildings have been constructed on this campus. Campus residence is available to the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, the Controller of Examination, the Finance Officer and other secretarial staff. Enough number of quarters have been constructed for the academic and the supporting staff. The teachers’ housing needs have been met to a large extent. However, some more quarters are required to house the class IV staff on the campus.
Five hostels for boys and three hostels for girls satisfy the present residential needs of students. A central canteen caters for the requirements of the university. All the buildings are looked after and maintained by the Estate Officer and his department. However upkeep of the infrastructure facilities needs greater attention of the authorities.
The Central library has a large collection of 2,80,000 books. It subscribes for 125 journals (national and international). It has also provided computer and CD ROMs under INFLIBNET which they are planning to link up with those of other universities. Computers are used extensively by the administration and the examination sections. The computer facility is available to most of the students and faculty, in many departments.
There is a health centre on the campus which is jointly operated by the university and a city hospital. This hospital has most of the basic facilities and five doctors work in three turns.
The facilities for sports and games are provided on the campus with a gymnasium, tennis courts and indoor facilities in volleyball, basketball, badminton and table tennis.
Most of the students(boys and girls) stay on the campus in hostels. The students (about 90%) are mostly from Tamil Nadu and they have opted to join this university because of the reputation it has for quality teaching and research in the state. They feel happy that there is no disturbance in academic schedules and because examinations are conducted in time. A large number of the students get stipends and many of the research scholars get fellowships. There is healthy teacher-student interaction which keeps the students’ morale high. There is a students’ counselling centre which helps the needy students. The overall academic atmosphere on the campus is very congenial which is conducive for the attainment of their cherished goals. The dropout rate is not high. Students who pass out are able to get placed. Graduates of the Business Management School often get better placement. Eighty to ninety per cent of the students passing out of the Department of Entrepreneurship studies get placements by the time they complete their studies.
Madurai Kamaraj University, being a state university, has been established by an Act of the Tamil Nadu Legislature. The Act provides for many statutory bodies to which are assigned enabling responsibilities. The statutory bodies are the Senate, the Syndicate, the Academic Council and the Finance Committee. Other than these, various other committees and sub-committees such as the Boards of Studies, the Academic Inspection Committee, the Grievance Redressal Committee, the Library Committee and the Boards of Examiners are constituted to help speedy and smooth functioning. The boards of studies of various disciplines constantly update the syllabus every three years. The Grievance Redressal Committee looks into the problems for speedy redressal. Active and speedy decision making is probably the reason for a peaceful atmosphere on the campus. Moreover, the university has decentralized and delegated powers to the departments in financial matters to avoid delays in the implementation of the programmes and projects. Harmonious co-operation between administrative, academic and financial branches has contributed to the prevalence of a congenial academic environment.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The university has been continuing the tradition of established healthy practices passed on by the dedicated band of teachers and administrators of past. A Distance Education Centre has been established which takes conventional and professional educational programmes to the doorsteps of the needy. This has been a very successful experiment which other universities are trying to emulate.
The establishment of the Student Counselling Committee provides proper guidance to students. The advance announcement of the academic calendar, strict adherence to schedules and the timely conduct of examinations and declaration of results attract good students for admission. Extending financial autonomy to research groups, along with the academic and administrative autonomy, through a formal ordinance is another healthy practice.
Starting of new and relevant academic programmes which provide better placement and self-employment opportunities is another promoter of student motivation. In some disciplines meaningful interaction between university and industry yields good results. Another notable healthy feature is the recent introduction of the CBCS by the university which will be helpful to learners. The various incentives given for teaching and research awards won by the faculty for their academic achievements are commendable.
The peer team after going through the self-study report and after visiting the campus to verify the facts makes the following observations. These clearly indicate the proactive role played by the university to achieve the desired goals and objectives of maintaining the quality and standards in imparting education:
1. Careful planning and offering of relevant and useful courses by the faculty to facilitate job orientation to students.
2. Running the academic programmes without disturbance(strikes are generally absent), conducting examinations in time and declaring results as per schedule.
3. Introduction of the Choice Based Credit System with a wide range of options offered.
4. Introducing hands-on-experience by way of project work and field work as part of the curriculum in most of the disciplines .
5. Efforts to provide hands on experience on computers to most of the students in various programmes and courses.
6. Total computerization of the examination machinery and declaration of results without delay.
7. The industry-university link up promoted through project work, consultancy, campus interviews and placement efforts.
8. The establishment of Industrial Consultancy Group under the chairmanship of the Vice-chancellor and intensifying interaction with industry to yield not only substantial revenues but also to provide experience to the staff and students.
9. The effective functioning of a large Distance Education Centre of the university in offering academic and skill oriented courses and taking education to the doorsteps of the needy.
10. Establishment of the Health centre on a cost-sharing basis with the Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Madurai and thus providing health care facilities to the university community.
11. The dedicated faculty and the proactive management of the university taking the initiative to motivate students and create a congenial academic atmosphere and work culture.
12. The management of the university may look into some of the requirements mentioned in the report and take positive measures for more effective functioning.