Assessment Report on
Institutional Accreditation of
Mercy College, Palakkad, Kerala
Section 1: Introduction
Why did the Mercy College, Palakkad, Kerala come forward to be assessed and accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bangalore?. To put it in their own words the answer is:
i. “to understand ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses
ii. to redefine our goals and priorities
iii. to examine whether our goals and priorities need to be reshaped to become more relevant in the present context
iv. to assess where we stand as far as the achievement of our goals is concerned
v. to find out various methods to improve the performance of the institution, the teachers and the students in every possible way
vi. to gain recognition at the national level”.
The Peer Team constituted by the NAAC with Prof. K. Aludiapillai as Chairman and Prof. A Balasubramanian and Dr. A.K. Sarala as members assisted by Dr. Antony Stella, Deputy Adviser, National Assessment and Accreditation Council visited the college on 30th September, 1st October and 2nd October 1999 and visited all the departments and interacted with the Management, the Principal, faculty, supporting staff, students, parents and alumni.
Established in the year 1964 by the CMC Educational Agency of the Roman Catholic Church, Mercy College is a minority institution affiliated to the University of Calicut, Kerala. It aims at the overall development of women and children of the catholic and other communities in this backward area and stands for academic excellence, all round development and character building based on the love of God and in the service of man cherishing the gospel values–truth, justice and peace.
Located in a semi-urban area in a large campus of 18.5 acres, this women’s college offers nine undergraduate, one post-graduate, three certificate and one PG diploma programmes with the support provided by 75 permanent faculty members and 54 non-teaching staff serving 947 students. The college does not accept capitation fee or donation, as consideration for admission and this has been made very clear in the college calendar. A strong moral and ethical base has been considered essential for character building and hence classes in moral instruction and religion and ethics are held for two hours a week.
The upliftment of women envisioned by the founders is sought to be pursued relentlessly with hope and strength to fight the evils of darkness and ignorance. The ambience provided by the institution appears to be conducive to the curriculum and it assists in the formation of a well developed personality for each student. The Peer Team’s assessment is discussed criterion wise below:
Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis
Criterion I: Curriculum Design and Review
In keeping with the trends in the sixties of this century, the college offered courses in humanities and sciences maintaining a balance between the two streams when degree courses were started in 1967. In 1979, chemistry B.Sc., 1981 economics BA, and in 1998 B.Com courses were started, bringing in career orientation. To provide for additional opportunity to acquire community needed skills, diploma (PGDCA) and certificate (Computer, Photography and Home Science) courses are offered on an optional basis. This appears to be in tune with the goals and objectives and social concerns the Management is conscious of.
Notwithstanding the policy of the Government of Kerala in imposing restriction on opening of courses aided by the Government, the Management has through its ingenious efforts provided for imparting new skills to those who sought them.
The linkage with local industries, however informal they may be, is quite visible in that their chief executives are in close touch with the college and facilitate staff and students to visit their institution and have some exposure to their functioning. The electronics circuit design construction course is one of the areas with high potential for this type of interaction.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
It is noted with interest by the Peer Team that this institution has a learner centered approach in most of its activities. That is how it ought to be. Students are evaluated during and after admission and remedial courses are offered to those who need them. Orientation courses, counselling sessions, special coaching to weak students, pre-marriage counselling, legal awareness, enrichment course for advanced learners etc., indicate the wide range of inputs that are offered to the groups concerned.
Using a variety of teaching techniques, the learning process appears to have been made quite interesting and enjoyable. Many co-curricular activities like N.C.C, N.S.S., S.S.L etc., have been dovetailed in to the curriculum and practically all the students get involved in one or more such activities. The physics department has shown initiative in bringing out a hand written journal inviting many contributions by the students.
The continuous internal evaluation involving written tests, seminars, project work etc., which the institution has voluntarily taken up is commendable.
Each teacher has been given freedom to design her own evaluation method and this has helped innovation and participation.
The self appraisal thrice a year by the teachers is another feature that the Peer Team noted with interest. Even more interesting is the fact that each teacher uses this for self improvement.
A good number of teachers have undergone courses in effective communication, personality development, value education etc., It is very rare that a college hosts the National Science Congress. This College has had this unique experience not long ago. The award of prizes to two teachers is a recognition that the college is proud of.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
Though the Mercy College has only one postgraduate and nine undergraduate courses, the staff have a flair for research. Research projects funded by the UGC, AIACHE, University of Pennsylvania & University of Stanford are in operation.
A wide range of extension activities have been undertaken. The women’s cell, medical camps, Health and hygiene awareness camps, Blood donation and AIDS awareness campaigns and environment awareness and other outreach programmes play a role in sensitizing the students to myriad problems faced by people in the country.
The interactive programmes with the District Hospital, Leprosy Centre, Panchayat, Lions club, Rotary Club etc., help the students to face a variety of experiences which prepare them to understand ground realities and to enable them cope with real life situations.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The physical facilities available in the college are quite impressive. A compact well maintained campus with a cluster of functional buildings kept in a neat and tidy manner makes the Peer Team feel that the authorities have an eye for detail. The library with 47,560 books open for nine hours a day with spacious halls, reading room, furniture and reprographic facilities provide the much needed ambience for quality education. The Book Bank is made good use of. The computer centre, health centre with necessary staff, guest house, vehicle shed, non-resident students centre and the tutorial system indicate the concern the college has in the welfare of its staff and students.
Facilities provided for the Camera Club both in terms of the infrastructure in the college, and training provided by a private Photo Club, guide students towards taking up photography both as a hobby and a career as well. The Home Science Centre, Career Guidance and Information Centre, Family Counselling and Typewriting facility add to the opportunities for learning new skills. The creche, day care centre, old age home etc., provide an opportunity to students to be exposed to real life situations and promote the quality of mercy that is the bedrock of a civilized social set up.
It is interesting to note that the college has, not only well maintained lawns and gardens, but also a modest apiary, rock garden, green house, glass house and a botanical garden, in addition to a mini animal house, to cater for the requirements of specimens for conducting science practical classes.
To provide recreational cum learning facilities classes in vocal music, guitar, violin and keyboard are available. The college also has a spacious, well maintained, fully equipped seminar hall for academic discussions and an auditorium for cultural and other activities.
Extensive play fields and equipments for physical education activities make this college stand apart. It has a very impressive record of participation and performance in sports at University, State, Regional, National and International levels.
A hostel accommodating 500 students is available in the campus. Of this number, 240 constituting 26% of the enrolment of 940, are students of the UG and PG courses. The rest are pre-degree class students. Canteen facilities are available to staff and students.
The remarkable performance of the students in Athletics, Hockey, Ball Badminton, Weightlifting and Kho-kho impressed the Peer Team very much. A multi gym, a cricket pitch, eight different courts for games and equipment for all the major track and field events make this college an envy of other colleges. The Parent-Teacher Association(PTA) gives cash prizes to outstanding athletes and even free hostel facilities to some. There is a sports hostel to encourage promising students to devote extra attention to sports activities. Coaches train the students in athletics and hockey.
Criterion V: Student Support and Progression
The prospectus of the college is published every year stating the courses of study, rules of admission, fee structure, available scholarships, concessions and facilities including hostels.
This college has a very enviable record in the matter of student progression. The percentage of students appearing for the qualifying examinations is found to be more than 80%. The college collects feedback from the students regularly. This enables the faculty to evolve alternative approaches to teaching. The College adheres to the calendar of events published at the time of admission. Apart from a very high percentage of passes in the university examinations and University ranks in several subjects, many of the students have become doctors, engineers, college teachers, computer experts, IAS officers and officials in Government and private organizations.
P.T Usha, Sreekumari Amma, M. D. Valsamma and Mercy Mathew won Arjuna Awards. P.T. Usha and M. D Valsamma have been awarded “Padmashree”. Many college athletes have participated in Asian and Olympic Games.
Some of the students have, after completing their studies here, passed All India level examinations conducted by the UGC-CSIR, GATE and NGPE. Twelve types of scholarships and 33 categories of scholarships instituted by well wishers have helped 267 students in the last two years. The institution has made commendable progress through PTA and created additional facilities and scholarships. The Student Aid Fund is one among them.
The alumni association is very active. They have 466 life members, 1000 ordinary members and 46 patrons. They contribute liberally to various activities in the college. Last year they donated Rs. 1 lakh. They run utility services in the college such as coffee booth, ISD/STD booth, fax, job typing, home science centre and career guidance and information centres. Training in secretarial practice, skill development programs and self-employment cell have enabled students to consider self-employment as an option.
There is a personal Counselling Centre maintained in association with the Social Welfare Board. It has been helping students and the public in overcoming their social problems through personal attention.
Criterion VI: Organization and Management
The College is managed by a compact governing body meeting thrice a year. It has representatives of teaching and non-teaching staff. The staff council which mainly looks after the academic and student matters, meets once a month. In each department, a monthly meeting is held. Students Union is actively involved in debating, cultural and student centred activities.
The efficiency of non-teaching staff is periodically evaluated and improved functioning noted as a consequence. The nominal tuition fee of Rs. 300/- p.a is permitted to be paid in eight
installments. This is a very liberal concession indeed. The annual budget is around Rs. 145.50 lakhs, 80% of which is spent on academic staff salaries, 15% on administration and common services and 5% on student welfare.
Recruitment of staff is based on the rules and regulations prescribed by the Government of Kerala from time to time. Since the Government has taken a policy decision to de-link the pre-degree course from the colleges and the first phase of the de-linking exercise is already under way, vacancies that have arisen in recent years have not been filled in by appointing regular hands. To ensure that the teaching work does not suffer due to the vacancies, the Government has permitted the appointment of guest lecturers who are paid on the basis of the number of hours of classes handled by them.
The college is also planning to open some new courses utilising the teachers who may be rendered surplus when all the pre-degree classes are shed.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The Peer Team found quite a few features in this college, which need special mention. The more important of them are listed hereunder:
1. Additional opportunities provided to students and the community to acquire new skills in areas such as computers.
2. Integrating academic programmes with social welfare activities like links with Home for Aged, Crèche, Day Care Centre, Condensed Course, job oriented training to promote self employment.
3. The college organizes regular educational field visits and personality development programs for students.
4. Emphasis on moral instruction, tutorial group meetings, counselling and orientation programmes.
5. Class-wise cultural activities roping in all students in some activity or the other.
6. Career guidance being offered by making an old student as the contact person.
7. Camera club, Technical hobby club and Nature club.
8. Media centre which has produced more than 25 Educational Video Programmes.
9. A very active and strong Alumni Association with 466 life members, 1000 ordinary members and 46 patron members meeting thrice a year and carrying on a wide range of activities and providing funds to college for specific activities.
10. Outstanding record in sports and games in university, inter-collegiate tournaments, inter university meets, state, national and international level events.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
The Peer Team is convinced that this college makes real the theory that a semi-urban location can be turned into a great advantage and opportunity, even while functioning under the affiliation system, and that value education and career orientation are compatible features in higher education.
“A sound mind in a sound body” goes the saying. This College has produced the pride of sports-stars of the country P.T Usha, M.D Valsamma and scores of award winners. Here again there is a blend of excellence in academic and sports activities.
Relevance of higher education to the society has been assured by the sensitizing programmes offered in the co-curricular activities and by making students participate in fieldwork to understand the grassroots level situations and problems.
Returns to the society which has invested so much in providing of higher education for women is obvious in this college distinctly through the activities of the strong, broad based and dynamic alumni association.
In the light of CMC’s basic principle enlightenment for betterment through education at intellectual, social, economic, moral and spiritual levels and true to the motto of the college with its sheet anchor in HOPE this institution has dared to tread on unexplored peaks of excellence in higher education.
Commendations and Suggestions:
The Peer Team considers the following activities of the college commendable:
1. Emphasis on personality development through academic and value based education.
2. Provision of adequate in infrastructure for curricular and extracurricular activities.
3. Maintenance of quality in the teaching-learning process.
4. Equipping women in all aspects to face the challenges of life in society.
The Peer Team suggests the following measures for further improvement of the institution;
1. Widening the scope of academic inputs by teachers beyond the purview of the syllabi and examinations.
2. Strengthening the capabilities and vision of the teachers by involving them in research activities.
3. Automation of library and procurement of latest books of high standard for the benefit of the bright students.