Assessment Report on
Institutional Accreditation of
Maris Stella College
Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
Section 1: Preamble
Maris Stella College of Vijayawada in the district of Krishna of Andhra Pradesh was established in 1962 by the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, an international Catholic Christian Organisation to provide higher education for women in a 'Christian atmosphere'. It is recognised as a religious minority college. It is mainly an undergraduate college for women but has two postgraduate departments. It is affiliated to Nagarjuna University and is at a distance of about 16 kilometers from the university campus. The college is recognised by the University Grants Commission under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act, from 16 July 1962, the very date of its establishment. It has submitted an application for autonomy, which awaits acceptance by Nagarjuna University.
In 1996, the Principal of Maris Stella College, Vijayawada, along with the Correspondent of the college attended a three-day workshop organised by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council at Bangalore, which motivated them to seek accreditation from NAAC. The college submitted the Self-Study Report (SSR) to NAAC in March 1999. The Peer Team formed by NAAC to visit Maris Stella College, Vijayawada, consisted of Dr. P.K.Chaudhuri, Member-Secretary, West Bengal State Council of Higher Education, as Chairman, and Dr. Patnaik, Retd. Professor of Physics, Utkal University and Dr. Sarala Krishnamurthy, Reader in English, Bangalore University as members. Dr. Antony Stella, Deputy Adviser, NAAC, and Dr. M. S. Shyamasundar, Assistant Adviser, NAAC assisted the Peer Team in making the assessment. The visit lasted for three days, from 2nd to 4th September, 1999, during which time the Peer Team visited the academic and administrative buildings of the college, the library, auditorium, hostel, staff quarters, sports facilities and the campus in general. The team met members of the Governing Body, the Principal, teachers, non-teaching staff, students and their parents and a group of ex-students of the college. Feedback and suggestions from all these groups were obtained and recorded by the Peer Team.
Maris Stella College has Arts, Science and Commerce faculties. There are 18 undergraduate departments, and two post-graduate departments, the department of Social Work and the department devoted solely to imparting value education. In addition, the students can have the benefit of a number of enrichment courses offered by the college. The college makes the best possible use of its infrastructure by advancing the college hours so that the afternoons can be utilised for offering enrichment courses.
The enrolment is nearly one thousand one hundred in the undergraduate and seventy in the post-graduate sections. The medium of instruction is English in the post-graduate classes and both English and Telugu in the undergraduate classes. Most of the students are from Andhra Pradesh. About a tenth are from other states and overseas, among whom there are some girls from Tibetan refugee families. About 20% of the students are accommodated in the hostels. There are various scholarships and stipends available and more than 60% of the students receive some or other kind of financial assistance.
The college has a beautiful and well laid out campus by the National Highway No.5 with plenty of open space and ample greenery. The buildings and the gardens are carefully maintained. The premises, especially the canteen and the hostel are kept clean with meticulous care. The college allows other organizations to use its facilities for holding conferences, competitive examinations etc. at a nominal charge.
The college offers facilities for various sports and recreational activities. Sports culture is evident among students, some of whom reach a high level of achievement, winning at national meets.
A striking feature of the college is its involvement in social and extension work. Through various programmes like medical and blood donation camps, awareness programmes on environment, AIDS, health and hygiene and imparting training for self-employment, students and teachers reach out into the neighbourhood and try to do their best to improve the life of the people.
The college administration is efficient and sensitive to the needs of students and teachers. Suggestions from students and teachers receive serious consideration. The Management makes ample provision in the budget for student support and maintenance of infrastructure. There is a satisfactory balance between planned growth and consolidation. The college enjoys a high status among the colleges in Vijayawada and one would not be wrong to expect that the college to have a glorious future.
Section 2: Criterion-Wise Analysis
Criterion I: Curricular Aspects
Maris Stella College, affiliated to Nagarjuna University, has been an undergraduate college till 1992, when it started some post-graduate courses. It was established in order to create an opportunity for women in the district of Krishna to receive higher education and is the first women's college to be established there. Its aim is to produce women who would prove themselves to be intelligent, responsible and truly educated citizens of India. It has at present eleven programme options in B.A., B.Sc., and B.Com. Apart from the core subjects of English, Indian Heritage and Culture, Science and Civilization, and a second language which can be Telugu, Sanskrit or Hindi, there are five subject combinations offered in B.A., four in B.Sc., and two in B.Com. The vocational subjects of Tourism & Travel Management and Tax Procedures & Practices are among the subjects offered to arts and commerce students respectively. The B. Sc. students can opt for any one of the self-financed subjects such as Computer Science and Electronics, which have been introduced since 1990.
The college offers self-financed post-graduate courses in English and Economics. In a similar manner, it has introduced a Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) programme from this year (1999). All the above programmes follow a yearly time-frame (not the semester/trimester system) as prevalent under the Nagarjuna University system. In addition, the college offers enrichment courses in Spoken English, Music etc. for the benefit of its students as well as others.
As an affiliated college, Maris Stella College has to function within its limitations as an affiliated college. It has submitted an application seeking autonomous status, which is under consideration by Nagarjuna University. But within its bounds, the college does make an attempt to update and improve its courses by sending suggestions to the university. The college has succeeded in introducing two vocational subjects with UGC assistance. A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electronics, two post-graduate courses and the BCA programme are financed from student fees. The college is planning to introduce a new B.Com. (Computers) course as a similar self-financing course. Thus, the college has to a large extent, been able to make progress inspite of the constraints inherent in the system of affiliation. However, quite understandably, the college cannot make any changes in the academic time-frame, introduce a modular structure of curricula and offer flexibility in the choice of subjects or modules. Nor can it formulate interdisciplinary courses of study at the undergraduate or post-graduate degree level.
The college has been careful in choosing subjects and courses with a career orientation. There have been instances where topics have been discontinued by the university due to loss of their relevance to career options. It has not, however, strayed from its goal of inculcating a sense of social responsibility in its students. It has made Value Education a compulsory subject for all students and has been offering Social Work not only as a subject in its theory and description but as an aspect of education to be practised in real life.
Teachers of the college participate regularly in educational conferences, refresher courses, meetings of Boards of Studies of other colleges and have opportunity of interacting with academic peers. They also have contact with employers in certain fields, as a result of their efforts to organise hands-on-training of students of vocational subjects. The college receives feedback from students regarding their courses of study through these interactions in an informal manner.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
Maris Stella College, as an institution established by Religious Minorities, gives preference to Christian students in admission. It observes the quota as stipulated by the State Government. The remaining seats are filled on the basis of percentage of marks obtained in public examinations. There is no admission test. Assessments are made after admission but they are not required for admission. There are provisions for remedial coaching for the academically weak students. On the other hand, the advanced learners are encouraged to maintain and improve academic standards with proficiency prizes and certificates. They are also motivated to participate in different competitions and are called upon to help the academically weak class mates.
Each teacher has a workload of 18-20 periods a week. They draw up month-wise teaching schedules and the progress of teaching is monitored at monthly review meetings. The Principal ensures completion of the syllabus with extra classes if necessary and sends the completion report to Government authorities. There are very few part-time teachers and most of the classes are taken by full-timers. In addition to the conventional method of teaching, the college uses seminars and group discussions by students to assist the learning process. R has overhead projectors, video cassettes and other teaching aids like maps and charts to be used by teachers. Teachers and some students also prepare some teaching aids like charts and models. There is however no workshop in the college to assist teachers in such activity.
The number of teaching days is adequate for the 2nd and 3rd years of undergraduate degree courses but falls short of the requirement of 180 days in the first year since the admission process takes considerable time.
Evaluation of the students is almost a continuous process. Apart from the annual term-end examination, there are monthly tests and short answer tests conducted during normal classes to ensure regularity of study by the students.
Teachers are recruited by the college by notifying the employment exchange and advertising in newspapers, the selection committee being a creation of the Governing Body. However, the college prefers old students as it is apparent from the fact that five of the six teachers recently recruited are from this college. The college has the liberty of appointing temporary teachers, as per norms, and they who are paid from the college funds. Teachers of all self-financing courses belong to this category. Some of the permanent teachers get UGC scales of pay and the new (1996) scales of pay are going to be implemented for them. The others, however, are on the State Government scales of pay. There is thus a disparity in the salaries drawn by teachers within the same institution. Teachers often attend refresher courses, seminars and conferences and have constant contact with the academic world outside. The college itself has conducted a large number of seminars and workshops on various topics. There is a system of annual appraisal of the academic activity as well as self-appraisal of the individual teachers. Student feedback has been obtained on the teaching and other aspects of the functioning of the college. More than 95% of the students have described the teaching as either 'good' or 'excellent'. Some faculty members have received teaching awards and cash prizes as incentives.
The college has ample scope for establishing linkages with academic institutions both within and outside the country, since a large number of such institutions are run by the parent Christian Society. However, no such effective linkage has yet been established.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
The Peer Team noted that the college has encouraged its faculty to do research. There are fifteen members of the staff with research qualifications and thirty more are involved in part-time research activities. Many teachers are engaged in guiding and participating in project-work at the undergraduate level in the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (3.P.I.C. ) scheme. The projects that are taken up are focussed, need-based and relevant to the subjects which are taught at the undergraduate level. Thus the students are given research orientation at this level. One of the members of the staff has contributed several articles to journals and has recently published a book.
The college shows evidence of offering consultancy at the local and state level However, the Peer Team felt that because of its prestige and location, the college could undertake consultancy services in commercial and other sectors. These linkages will be of mutual benefit and students will stand to gain from such exposure.
The extension activities of the college include AIDS awareness camps, health camps, literacy programmes for slum children and school drop-outs, and various other programmes under the J.P.I.C. scheme. The students of this college have participated in the Janma bhoomi programmes initiated by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The college has taken up a training project in tailoring for unemployed women from lower income groups in and around Vijayawada. A full-time staff member co-ordinates the extension services of the college. Several resource persons are invited to motivate and enlist students for these activities. In order to generate funds to conduct extension activities, benefit shows have been organized by the college.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The college has about twenty acres of land with an aesthetically planned landscape, buildings and play grounds. It has added to the existing infrastructure by building the P.G. block, the administrative building, the canteen and the library building. Infrastructure of the college is put to optimum use by holding regular classes in the forenoon and offering enrichment and remedial programmes in the afternoon. The class rooms and the auditorium are also put to use for conducting examinations such as Banking exams etc. There is a public address system and intercom for effective communication. Also, there is an open air auditorium to seat six thousand and more. The library is housed in an independent building and has two large reading rooms. The college has also established inter-library links with the British Library, Hyderabad and the United States Information Services, Chennai from where they are able to get books, as well as audio and video cassettes for use in the class room. The library also has reprographic facilities. The college has adequate sports facilities with basketball courts, a large play ground and tennis court. A Physical Directress is appointed for the sole purpose of overseeing the sports activities of college. The college has produced several champions in sports and games, particularly in athletic events, basketball and handball. Students of the college have participated in national and international sports. The college encourages sports through incentives offered to sports persons.
The college has a central computer facility equipped with twenty-five computers. A linkage with NIIT has been established to enable students from the college to take up NIF course at a subsidised rate. There is a botanical garden in which are grown nearly 500 different species of plants such as medicinal, ornamental and other plants.
The hostel building is a large complex in which nearly four hundred students from different streams are accommodated. The hostel students have a T.V. room and a large auditorium to conduct their own activities. The mess, kitchen and canteen are well equipped and neat. There are two solar heaters which supply hot water to the kitchens. There is a cattle shed. There is an infirmary and sick room attached to the hostel with a doctor on call. For any serious ailments, the students are taken to St. Ann's hospital nearby.
While the Peer Team felt that the infrastructure and the learning resources of the college were good, it is necessary for the college to have an instrumentation centre and workshop to meet the growing needs of students in the present day scenario. Internet facility may be provided at the Computer centre and other places so as to give the staff and students easy access for internet browsing.
Criterion V: Student Support and Progression
The institution has nurtured an atmosphere which is conducive to intellectual growth and all round development of its students. The students of this college were awarded several university ranks over the years. They are encouraged to participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities conducted by the college such as teachers' day, freshers’ day, inter collegiate competitions and others.
In the field of sports, the college has won a number of trophies and prizes in the inter-university sports competitions, regional, national and international competitions such as athletics, basketball, handball etc. Sports persons are given several incentives such as fee waiver, tracksuit, free meals with special diet and others.
There is a student feedback mechanism instituted by the college which helps in sorting out not only their academic problems, but also their grievances. The college has been successful in obtaining a number of scholarships awarded by the government welfare department and other agencies. Nearly seven hundred students benefit from these scholarships. The Alumni Association plays an active role in student progression by providing facilities for the poor such as the book bank scheme, etc.
The National Cadet Corps and the National Service Scheme in the college need a special mention because of their achievements. NCC cadets represented the college in the Republic Day Celebration in Delhi. Further, two cadets have also been awarded Duke of Edinburgh gold medal for Andhra Pradesh. There is an NCC officer of the rank of second lieutenant who represents the district in the camps. Some of the students of the college have achieved distinction and are highly placed in society. The alumnae of the college consist of civil servants, commercial pilots, doctors, educators and other professionals. However, the college needs to maintain records of its student profile and progression. Also, the college could start a formal placement service after developing appropriate linkages with industries in the region.
Criterion VI: Organisation & Management
The college is managed by a Governing Body (GB) consisting of twelve members with the Correspondent as the chairperson. The Principal is the ex-officio Secretary and two of the teachers are elected as their representatives. The responsibility of appointing teachers and other employees, launching new programmes and developmental activities is vested with the G.B. The Peer Team has gone through the proceedings of the G.B. from 19th September 1987 till date. The Selection Committee for appointing teachers consists of the Correspondent, the Principal, the Vice-Principal, the HOD concerned and one subject expert. It recommends the panel of names in the order of merit to the G.B. for approval. Various committees exist to look after the curricular and co-curricular activities, games and sports, discipline etc. and these are formed by the staff council consisting of teachers along with the Principal at the beginning of the academic session.
The college, in keeping with its objective of imparting higher education to women students, has instituted a good number of scholarships and other forms of financial assistance for deserving and needy students by raising funds from government grant, through management/Alumni Association. Employees including those who serve in the hostel are beneficiaries of college welfare funds and bank loans which are sanctioned on the recommendation of the college. Since it is a private aided institution, the audit is carried out regularly by the department of the State Government concerned. However, the funds generated through self-financing programmes are audited by Chartered Accountants. The financial status as observed from the budget is very satisfactory and there is surplus amount which is kept in fixed deposit.
The college has already started the BCA programme in the current academic session and proposes to start B.Com. programme with Computer education from the next session under the self financing scheme. Grievance redressal, if required , is presently made through amicable settlement with the help and co-operation of staff and students. Difficult situations are referred to the G.B. for the final decision. It is hoped that a formal democratically constituted body will be formed soon to discharge this responsibility.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The college has already introduced self-financing courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It has also introduced need-based courses under the vocational stream prescribed and funded by the UGC. The college is a member of the All India Association of Christian Education (AIACHE) through which it participates in national and international conventions/seminars on different matters of higher education.
Being a minority (Catholic) institution the college has established some healthy practices beyond the curricular frame work prescribed by the university. The college has introduced a compulsory course on value education of one hour duration per week for all students irrespective of their different faiths. This course covers self-awareness, personality development, duties towards God, family, neighbor, self, country, society etc. This will help the students to develop their personality as a whole human being with a spirit of dedication to duty and as a free citizen. Secondly, it has started some activities under Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). About two hundred students and thirty staff members have already enrolled in this scheme voluntarily. They have taken up several issues such as Women Empowerment, Women Leadership, Promotion of Clean Environment, Self-help, helping street children and domestic workers, prevention of school dropouts etc with the assistance of the Municipal Corporation, Church of Vijayawada and some NGOs.
A teacher was honored with the Best Teacher Award in 1996 by the Andhra Pradesh Government from among all the lecturers of colleges and universities.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
The Peer Team has gone through the self-study report and visited all the facilities of the college and interacted with all the departments and authorities. After this exercise, the Peer Team is in a position to make the following observations regarding Maris Stella
1. The college is doing valuable work in imparting quality education to women students not only of Andhra Pradesh but also of other parts of the country. There is ample evidence that the college has been empowering its students to reach high standards of achievement in various walks of life.
2. The college conducts value education classes for all students. A large number of students and staff participate in the 'Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation' programme. The NSS is active. Students have the opportunity to acquire service learning. Through all these, the college seeks to achieve its goal of promoting a sense of social responsibility as envisaged in their mission statement.
3. Within the constraints of an affiliated institution, the college has been able to introduce two vocational subjects and several need-based courses at the undergraduate level for the benefit of its students. Further, the college has diversified programmes at higher levels such as the post-graduate courses in English Literature and Economics.
4. There is a striking harmony between the Management and the staff, both teaching and non-teaching, and a high level of confidence reposed in each other. A sense of dedication is apparent among all sections of staff and this has a remarkable effect on the overall atmosphere of the college and its reputation. Staff and students participate in decision making on matters of their concern.
5. The college has a vast campus. It is ably cared for by the college authorities.
6. Students of the college excel in both curricular and co-curricular activities. They bring honor to their institution by securing several ranks in the university examinations and at the same time they have won laurels, chiefly in NCC and sports.
7. The college has submitted a proposal for grant of autonomy, for which they have attained the desired level of maturity. They should be allowed to function as an autonomous institution so that they can fulfill their aspirations.
While the peer team is appreciative of all the good work done by the college it would like to make some suggestions for its further development. These are:
1. The college has the potential to offer consultancy services and to carry out research in different disciplines. It can also develop a more effective pedagogy.
2. The college should have an instrumentation centre cum workshop, especially in view of the needs of the existing Physics and Electronics departments.
3. All students may be given access, at least to a limited extent, to the computer facilities offered by the college. There should be an internet connection for the use of teachers and students. This will enhance the library facilities and also provide an inexpensive method of communication through the E-mail.
4. Some placement facility should be provided for the benefit of the students.
5. There should be a formal mechanism of grievance redressal with representation of all sections of staff and students.
6. Some senior teachers may be invited as guest faculty specifically for the post graduate courses.
7. There should be a compulsory physical activity for all students such as yoga, gymnastics and other games.
8. The college can arrange academic and cultural exchange programmes with educational institutions in other states.
9. The library hours may be extended and it may be kept open on public holidays.
The Peer Team appreciates both the limitations and future prospects of this institution. It hopes that the college will be able to overcome the limitations and establish itself as a centre of excellence in the field of higher education in the state and perhaps in the country.