The Maharaja’s College volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and submitted its self-study report in March 1999. A Peer Team was constituted by the council to visit the college and validate the self-study report. The Peer Team consisting of Dr. V.R. Muthukkaruppan, former Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University as Chairman, Professor T. Sivasankaran, former Dean, College Development Council of the Pondicherry University, and Professor T.L.Shantha, Principal of Maharani Lakshmi Ammani College, Bangalore visited the College on 10th, 11th and 12th October, 1999.
The Maharaja’s College, a Government College, affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam is situated in the heart of Cochin city, covering a total area of 25 acres on the banks of Vembanad lake. A single room English School started by Cochin sarkar in 1845 was upgraded into a college in 1875, which is now the oldest College in this part of the country. It will be completing 125 years during the year 2000. Today it has 2615 men and women students and the teaching faculty of 194. A total of 38 programmes are offered (BA in 10 subjects, B.Sc. in 7, MA in 10, M.Sc. in 7 and Ph.D. in 4 subjects). The institution has got UGC recognition under 2f.
The Peer Team carefully studied and analyzed the self-study report of the College. During the institutional visit, they went through all the relevant documents and visited all the departments and facilities (curricular, extracurricular, sports and extension) of the institution. The Peer Team also interacted with the principal, the College Development Committee, faculty, non-teaching staff, students, parents and alumni of the college. Based on the above exercise, and keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by NAAC, the Peer Team has made the assessment which is reported in the following pages.
Maharaja’s College is an arts and science college. It is affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University of Kottayam. The university prescribes the syllabi for arts and science both at UG and PG levels in the annual pattern. The college offers 38 programmes - 17 three-year programmes at UG level (B. Sc, BA) and 17 two-year PG programmes (M. Sc, MA). These include, two vocational degree courses - B. Sc Physics with Instrumentation and B. Sc Chemistry with Environment and Water Management offered with UGC assistance. At the PG level, M. Sc in Physics offers two optional papers viz. Computer Science & Electronics. At the UG level students have to select two subsidiaries and one main subject of study. Four options are available under the second language programme.
The college has introduced BA course in Music this year. The college has appointed temporary teachers to teach music. Since the college is affiliated, the course programmes and revision of syllabi are prescribed by the university. The college requires 7 months to introduce a new programme. The college teachers have sufficient representation in the academic bodies of the university like Boards of Studies and Academic Council. During the restructuring of the UG course one person from each department has participated in syllabus revision. Teachers are actively involved in designing the new restructured courses at the UG level which offers three model patterns with 3-4 electives. Tutorial system has been introduced as a part of the curriculum at the UG level. This facilitates the teachers to interact with students, counsel them and help them solve both academic and non academic problems to the extent possible. This system has built a good relationship between teachers and students. This is commendable.
The college promotes curricular and co-curricular activities for the overall development of students in sports, literary and cultural proficiency. Students who opt for the vocational courses (UGC) can choose Communicative English. The course has many special features like on-the-job training for at least a period two months every year. Five teachers from the department of Physics and three from Chemistry have undergone in training. Both Physics and Chemistry department run vocational courses with the help of guest faculty. Students of Instrumentation have on-the-job training in companies like FACT, Cochin Refineries, Cochin Shipyard and Hindustan Paper Corporation. Many students lave been suitably placed. Seven departments are identified as research centres.
Though the college offers a wide range of programme options, most of them are conventional. The college may seriously consider the starting of need based job oriented courses such as B.Sc. Computer Science, Biotechnology and B.Com.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
The eligibility conditions for admission to various courses of study are published in the college prospectus and admissions are made strictly according to merit and the reservation policy of the government of Kerala. There is no entrance test for any course except BA Music. Teaching-learning process is made more effective by projects, seminars, symposia and on the job training. Teaching is planned well in advance and the progress is monitored by the tests and one major examination in December every year. Remedial courses are organized for the SC/ST students. In the university exam, continuous internal assessment has been assigned 20% credit. The university exam results are uniformly and consistently good - over 80% in many departments at the UG level and around 90% in PG departments. The college has worked for 198 working days and the classes were held regularly without any strike. All the full-time vacancies have been filled and the college has the freedom to appoint temporary teachers as and when required. Though there are no enrichment courses, extension lectures are being arranged by all the departments. The college has a Tutorial System and each teacher is assigned 15 students. They monitor the overall performance of the students and inform the parents regarding their progress.
The college has fully utilized the FIP programme of the UGC. in the 8th and the 9th plans, 14 teachers have been selected to do Ph.D programmes. Further, teachers have been encouraged to attend refresher courses regularly in academic staff colleges. In addition, several departments have organized refresher courses with the aid of the state government. Many teachers have attended university and national seminars and workshops in their respective disciplines.
There are 34 Ph.Ds and 34 M.Phils on the staff and they have 26 research scholars in 4 departments. Recognition is given to teachers who make innovations or contribute to research though there is no system of rewarding as such. Most of the teaching faculty are well motivated and as indicated in a survey, 94% of them took to teaching willingly and hence there is a sense of commitment. The teacher–student relationship is good.
Teachers are appointed by the government of Kerala through the State Public Commission and they possess the qualifications prescribed by the UGC. The syllabus is unitized according to the annual pattern of teaching and a midterm test is held in December. Apart from the regular teaching, seminars and guest lectures are arranged at regular intervals to motivate the students. Students doing vocational courses are taken to industrial houses for acquiring practical skills through on-hand experience.
The audio-visual equipment of the college is not adequately used. There is ample scope for co-curricular activities: students participate in intercollegiate seminars and quizzes. They have a debating society and a dramatic club and enough opportunities are provided to students to display their talents. Faculty members do give the necessary fillip to these extra–curricular activities which train students as useful citizens.
There is no mechanism to evaluate the performance of the faculty except the annual confidential reports prepared and used by the authorities during promotions. While teachers are elevated to Selection Grade, they submit their self–appraisal reports. The college has the sanctioned student strength in all courses and this speaks well of good teaching-learning process.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
Seven departments of this college have been identified as research centers by the university but four of them are actively engaged in research activities. There are about 25 full-time research scholars working in Physics, Malayalam, Hindi and Sanskrit departments. There are also teachers who do part time research in neighboring universities. There are three on-going research projects funded by DST, UGC and STEC in the Department of Physics. There are research publications to the credit of some of the professors involved in research. In the language departments, teachers have authored many books and the Head of Department of Malayalam has won the Sahitya Academy Award for a collection of his poems. The Department of Physics has to its credit a DST project on Stochastic Resonance in Pendulum Systems. The Department of Chemistry has been a state recognised consultancy centre and it is very active. There are nearly 34 Ph.D.s on the staff but some of them are unable to do research due to lack of library facilities. Paucity of funds has affected the purchase of research journals. The college has installed the Internet facility recently and it is hoped that this will promote research activities further.
In a government college with limited resources, the research activities of the departments are considerable, though not fully commendable. Many of the teachers are well motivated towards research but they have their constraints.
The NCC units of the college are very active and they have won many distinctions. Many cadets of the college take keen interest in National Integration and Social Service camps. They have participated in Republic Day Parades and won medals in the National Sailing Competition. The NSS units function efficiently and they offer their services to the community at large. They have year-long activities and social service camps. Their activities include Shramadan, Mini Camp, Village Adoption, Aids Awareness Campaign, Legal Awareness Camp, Special Camp for Road Construction, Blood Donation Camp, Gardening and planting of fruit trees, Leadership training Camp etc. The college has adopted a village.The exposure of students to rural services has a salient effect. They also have many cultural activities which keep them engaged and very active.
The college is built on a 25-acre area. The campus has a central library, an impressive centenary auditorium, workshop linked with the Department of Physics, student hostel, canteen, vehicle parking, sports facility and class rooms. The buildings are very old and they need renovation or replacement. Campus restoration work has been taken up by the CDC. Minor and urgent repairs are attended with the help of government funds sanctioned through PWD annually.
The facilities available in the campus are used for government-supported programmes. The classrooms are rented out for holding national level examinations. The college ground is also given for rent and part of the revenue goes to the college.
Each department maintains a departmental library. Apart from the departmental libraries, there is a central library. A large number of books in the central library are very old editions and they require immediate replacement/repair. The present method of issuing books should be reconsidered. Attention may be paid to the ventilation and lighting of the reading halls which need improvement. The library may be kept open beyond regular working hours. The Book bank facility and inter library networking are necessary.
Most of the departments have acquired computers. Though the Department of Physics is doing good research work, some of the equipment in the laboratories are very old. The Instrumentation lab facilities have to be improved. There is a workshop linked with the physics department and it is under-utilized. The Department of Statistics has only a PG course and it has got 10 computers. Each student is given a computer to work. This department has produced very good students who have passed ISS, UGC, CSIR and NET examinations. This department deserves to be commended for its good work. The Department of Mathematics which has both UG and PG has conducted a workshop in Vedic Mathematics. A staff member of this department is a resource person for women’s development and also for the Career Guidance Cell. The Department of Chemistry offers consultancy services recognized by the government. It runs PG a course in Pharma Chemistry with Fat and Oil as one of the optional subjects for PG students. The job opportunity is 100%. The Department of Zoology has a good museum with a very rare collection of specimens. The Department of History has made a proposal to start vocational courses at the UG level with Archeology and Museology as vocational subjects. The department has a good collection of antiques including palm leaf in Devanagari. The college has a physical education centre with a spacious sports ground which is the center for all the sports activities. The sports facilities need a lot of improvement and maintenance.
The Staff and Students Co-operative Society Ltd. is in the campus. The society runs a bookshop. Textbooks and stationery materials are available. It has reprographic facilities. The Ernakulam District Government Employees Co-operative Society is housed in the campus. It offers financial assistance to the members by way of loans. The auditorium is an additional facility available which can support students to exhibit their talents through cultural activities.
The college has two hostels for both boys and girls. The hostel requires a lot of improvement and the buildings have to be maintained well. A Warden may be appointed for the men’s hostel. Old students of the college run a canteen in the campus.
The college has a consistently good academic record and the university examination results prove the same. At the UG level, many departments have produced more than 80% results and at the PG level, between 70% and 100%. The dropout rate is about 20% but it is not a fact that they discontinue their studies but they leave the college only for joining some professional college or the other. Many PG departments have produced 100% results.
The college has won many laurels in sports, NSS and NCC activities and the notable among them are MG University Inter-Collegiate Cricket Trophy (1998) and MG University Inter-Collegiate Youth Festival Trophy (1994 and 98). Cadets of the NCC, have participated in national level camps – National Integration Camp, Army Attachment Camp, Trekking Expedition. NCC Naval wing has won the first position in the Inter Collegiate sailing competition and participated in the Republic Day National sailing competition at Delhi. The Director General of NCC has commended the work of the NCC officer. Four NSS units have been functioning quite well in different social service activities.
There is an active Alumni Association called the Old Students Association (OSA) which evinces keen interest in the growth and development of this college. This association arranges lectures by eminent men and awards prizes to rank holders. It also looks after the campus development. The college has a long list of illustrious alumni and some of them are interested in fostering this college and its reputation.
A Career Guidance Cell was started in 1994 and it arranges campus interviews. A survey has been conducted to find out how many were employed after passing out from this college. About 40% of the graduates find employment, according to the survey. The college publishes its updated prospectus every year with all the information required for the benefit of students.
There are many scholarships and financial aids available to students. About 15 different scholarships are enjoyed by students. Apart from this, many endowments have been created to award prizes and medals to students who win academic distinctions. Blind students and handicapped students are given special concessions.
As for academic counselling, teachers are accessible to students always and students feel free to approach them for any clarification. There is good interaction between the faculty and students.
There is no medical officer attached to this college. But the district hospital is so close by that students can go there for any emergency. The college should take steps to appoint a placement officer in the college or at least, give the lecturer-in-charge of career guidance some additional remuneration.
The sports and recreational facilities available are excellent. Several associations and clubs take care of extra-curricular activities. In sum, the student support and progression is quite encouraging.
Criterion VI: Organization and Management
The college has various committees to co-ordinate and monitor daily work. The College Development Committee (CDC) and a Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) are working efficiently and they contribute to the welfare programmes of the college. Most of the members are old students of the college. The college accounts are audited by the Accountant General (AG) once in two years and department auditing is done by the Directorate of Collegiate Education. Purchase audit is done by the government secretariat. The university does auditing for UGC funds and research grants. Staff members are recruited through PSC selection. The Principal of the college also has powers to appoint temporary teachers when permanent teachers go on study leave. There is no file movement register. The function of the grievance redressal cell is performed by the “Students Affair Committee”. Some basic training is required for non-teaching staff in computer operations.
The Principal is posted to the college at the fag end of their service and hence he or she will not be able to ensure continuity of work and achievement of objectives. Frequent changes in the principal ship hinder the growth of the institution. The transfer policy must be modified. The post of Vice-Principal may be created to look after the academic development of the institution in co-operation with the officers of the college.
Old Students’ Association (OSA) works as a supporting agency in order to promote activities of the college.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The Peer Team has identified the following healthy practices followed by Maharaja’s College:
· The College Development Committee with the District Collector as Chairperson has greatly helped this institution in generating resources for renovation of the century old buildings. This effort still continues.
· An active Alumni Association provides constant support for the progress of the college.
· The college offers a few need based courses and has to its credit good research programmes in certain departments which have forged national / international links.
· The Maharaja’s College being the oldest institution in this area offers courses with multiple options to promote all round development of students.
The Peer Team, after going through the self–study report and after its visit to various academic and physical facilities, is impressed by the progress made by the Maharajas College in imparting higher education over hundred years. The college is one of the best among government colleges and has been adjudged by the Kerala Governments Education Department as the “Centre of Excellence”. The quality of higher education offered by the college is well indicated by its very distinguished alumni.
The Peer Team identified a number of features of the Maharajas College, which provide evidence for the quality education offered by this reputed institution. The Peer Team commends the institution for the following aspects:
1. The support given by the Directorate of Collegiate Education
2. The quality and commitment of the teaching faculties and non–teaching staff of the college
3. The formation of various committees for efficient administration, especially the College Development Committee, with the Collector as Chairman to augment the resources
4. The effective leadership and the efficient team-work of the faculty necessary for the smooth functioning of the college
5. Impressive efforts of the college to promote student participation in sports and extracurricular activities
6. Well known for its reputed alumni, a Zoological museum and a large playground in the heart of the city
7. A few departments with good research facilities and awards at the national level.
Keeping in view the future plans of the institution, the Peer Team would suggest the following for the consideration of the college:
1. While the Peer Team appreciates the financial constraints of the college, the action plan for renovation, initiated by the present leadership, may be completed early with the cooperation of the Director of College Education.
2. The college may make concerted efforts to introduce concurrent certificate and diploma courses, as many as possible, keeping in mind the latest trends and community needs.
3. Attempt may be made to provide computer courses to all branches of students through formal and non-formal methods. Computer training is also required for the administrative and the library staff of the college.
4. A formal mechanism for collecting feedback from students on various aspects of their learning experience may be introduced.
5. The Peer Team appreciates the problems encountered by government colleges as a result of annual transfer of teachers. However, exceptions may be made to have the Principal at least for a period of three years in institutions like the Maharaja’s College and to create the new position of Vice-Principal as a special case. This would ensure further progress of this reputed college.
6. Special effort may be made to provide sound hostel facilities for more student residents.
7. The college may consider introducing inter-departmental interaction in teaching and research.
8. Attempts may be made to utilize the various programmes of the UGC such as autonomy, semester pattern, modular curricula, examination reforms, introduction of computer courses etc with appropriate funding.