Report of the Peer Team on
Institutional Accreditation of
Newman College, Thodupuzha, Kerla
Section 1 : Preamble
The Peer Team nominated by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, visited the Newman College, Thodupuzha between October 25 and 27, 1999 in order to assess its performance. The Peer Team consisted of the following members: Dr. M. Lakshmanan, Former Vice-chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University(Chairman), Dr. C. Thangamuthu, Professor of Economics, Bharathidasan University (Member), and Dr. (Smt.) Indumati, Professor of Economics, University of Mysore (Member). It was ably assisted by Dr. Latha Pillai, Deputy Adviser, NAAC, and Dr. M.S. Shyamasundar, Asst. Adviser, NAAC, Bangalore.
Newman College, Thodupuzha is a First Grade college affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala. It is owned and administered by the Catholic Diocese of Kottamangalam, Kerala. The college is situated in the backward district of Idukki and is the only college catering for the needs of students who come from several high-schools in this area. It is recognised by the U.G.C. under Sections 2f and 12B of its act.
At present the college has 1297 UG students and 97 PG students. There are 111 teaching staff and 62 non-teaching staff in the college
The college submitted a detailed report based on the criteria laid down by NAAC. The Peer Team has made the assessment on the basis of the self-study report and also in the light of its interaction with the Principal, teaching staff, individual departments, students, non-teaching staff, Management Committee, parents and alumni of the college.
Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis
Criterion - I Curricular Aspects
Newman College offers eight of its undergraduate and four of its Postgraduate programmes. cTherefore, conventional courses are offered to provide them basic higher education in commonly accepted areas of study. While innovation cannot be radical under an affiliating system, attempts have been made to ensure the holistic development of the student as a person. The curriculum has thus come to include value education. Co and extra curricular activities in clubs and associations also reinforce this goal.
The college may consider the need to review its curriculum. A corporate exercise by the whole college community and others in the neighbourhood, which it serves, is advisable inorder to make available to students a flexible and innovative system of education which can offer better and more course options. Supplementary and enrichment programmes may be introduced for developing work skills. Backward students’ who find it difficult to cope, may be given appropriate remedial courses. The involvement of students in contemporary technological education cannot be ignored. The absence of these and others which meet the needs and aspirations of modern youth is a matter of concern. As such the curriculum is academically classic & old and it needs radical revision even within constraints of an affiliating system.
Criterion II: Teaching - Learning and Evaluation
Students are admitted to various courses of study according to eligibility conditions laid down by the university subject to rules of reservation by the state.
While teaching methodology remains essentially conventional, some innovative padagogy has been practised. Role play, debate and discussions among others, constitute the innovative effort.
Nine of the teachers are Ph.D. holders and 25 have M.Phil degrees. A few are involved in research leading to Ph.D. Teachers update their knowledge by attending orientation and refresher programmes. Some have attended national/international seminars. A few of them have published papers in reputed journals. The state prescribed self-appraisal is used to assess teachers’ performance.
The evaluation system provides for internal assessment which is given 20% weightage. Periodical terminal tests, assignments and seminars are used as instruments of assessment.
The absence of a wide range of teaching methods which promote learner centred class-room activity, the inadequacy of efforts to assess teacher performance effectively and the paucity of adequate instruments to make a continuous and formative assessment of student performance are quite conspicuous. The college may be concerned about the need to review and reform these areas which are central to the educational process. Teacher development and teacher accountability require move reliable processes of teacher performance appraisal.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
Research activities of the college consist of project work for PG students, in which student involvement is remarkable. Some of the departments such as zoology, physics, chemistry are quite active in research work, leading to publications in reputed journals.
A wide range of extension activities like health and hygiene awareness and environmental awareness programmes, social work etc. are taken up. Besides, Population Education Club, Nature Club, Arts club, Women’s Cell, Ham Radio Club etc adult education and National Literacy Mission are other related activities. NCC and NSS provide ample scope for building up student awareness of and concern for, the less privileged.
A concerted effort to facilitate research through a formally constituted research cell will result in many successful research publications. The involvement of the faculty in research and consultancy would motivate students to pursue higher learning and enrichment of knowledge. There is ample scope for extension in this area. The college may consider the promotion of research culture by encouraging students’ and faculty to publish even successful experiments, pedagogic innovations neighbourhood studies in as many journals as possible. Orientation programme in research and statistical methods may also help.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The College has adequate infrastucure. Though the main campus is located in an area of 6.33 acres, the total land area available almost contiguously runs to 27.33 acres providing adequate scope for future expansion. The academic buildings with spacious classrooms and laboratory facilities are quite adequate for the courses offered. As the pre-degree classes phase out, there is likely to be some excess building space. The college Management may have to think of putting them into optimal use by launching more diversified academic programmes, including some job oriented short-term courses, on the lines of a community college.
There is a separate three-storied block, housing the library in two floors and a spacious auditorium in the top floor. The library has over 35,000 volumes and 78 journals (including magazines), with extended working hours starting one hour before and closing one hour after the classes are over. There is an internet facility. The computerisation of the library which has just started needs to be hastened with additional terminals for users. The furniture for the users may be improved.
The computer centre which has been recently established, with six PCs, needs to be expanded and facilities improved. The centre must be strengthened with trained personnel to cater for student learners outside classrooms.
The sports infrastructure may have to be expanded and toned up. The college has a proposal to provide more playing space as this is in urgent need.
Other facilities in the campus include an audio-visual room, a student centre with a canteen, waiting rooms, co-operative store, bank, post office and a chapel.
About 100 girl students stay in a private hostel near the college. There is no hostel for boys in the campus but there is a felt need for hostel accommodation inside the campus, particularly for the benefit of those students who come from remote villages not well connected by transport. The use of campus facilities such as library, sports, computer etc., for co-curricular and extra curricular activities may also improve with the provision of hostel accommodation.
While the existing infrastructure is adequate, the college may consider making a master plan for expansion over the next ten years. The line of direction especially in areas of specialisation in the future chiefly in information technology, may be outlined clearly.
Criterion V : Student Support and Progression
Almost all the departments have a commendable practice of maintaining student “input-output register” wherein the student academic performance is recorded and monitored right from the entry of marks secured at pre degree level till the completion of the course. The marks at various college level examinations are also systematically maintained.
There is a steady improvement in the performance of students. Teachers are legitimately proud that, through their hard and sustained work, are able to shape the generally less-than-average students who come form typical rural/poor background to reach fairly appreciable academic standards.
There is no formal mechanism to follow student progression after the student leaves the college. The profile of student progression is perceived through informal feedback obtained from them by members of the faculty or departments concerned. The Alumni Association, of course, may act as a formal forum through which the student progression and feedback could be channelled. The activities of the alumni need to be strengthened further.
Besides the tutorial system which functions quite well, various extra curricular clubs provide opportunities for the total personality development of students. The career guidance and counselling centre in particular has been engaged in motivating and traning students for career prospects. A placement cell may be organised and efforts initiated to help the students getting placements. The college may consider offering incentives to progression – scholarships, merit awards, counselling etc. Student progression may well be achieved by closely monitoring student progress not only in academics but also in the acquisition of self-confidence towards independent thinking and self-management.
An atmosphere of harmony and co-operation among the college community was noticed by the Peer Team. This is achieved by the effective human resource management of the principal who is winsome in his personal influence. He is able to inspire confidence in all the sections of the College Community. He is encouraged in his administration by the Management, the financial soundness of which reinforces administrative decisions made by the Principal. This seems to be the reason for the prevalence of concord although the pressure of democratic structures and procedures are not evident.
Faculty recruitment is made on the basis of government and university/U.G.C. norms. Student admissions are also based on merit and the government policy of reservation. A cut-off mark serves as a helpful measure of discerning merit as a criterion for admission.
Financially sound as it is, the Management ably augments the material resources of the college. The utilization of space outside college hours (auditorium is let out on hire) and the generation of income from the vacant college land from farming are instances in point. It runs other educational institutions, including colleges under corporate management. While this may be an advantage to students when programmes such as information technology/computers/business management are offered across colleges within the same management, sharing of human resources centrally may affect the efficiency of individual institutions. A balanced handling of resources with adequate checks and controls may circumvent such a disadvantage. Other ways of resource generations include donations raised by P.T.A., faculty and students, but these are used mainly for campus improvement. The Peer Team recommends linking of resource generation to an overall planned development of the college with prioritized goals which should include expenditure on academic improvement, chiefly learner-centred activities.
A financially sound management often matches generation of income with planned and phased development. Of such a master plan to project future expansion to meet challenges which may be thrown by rapid expansion of specific areas of knowledge like information technology there is little evidence. Equally important are codes of financial operation and control which may lay down policies and procedures of financial management.
More important is the machinery of participative administration. The making of decisions, preparations of departmental and college budgets, and maintenance of infrastructure may be made corporate so that every members of the college is involved creatively in team planning and corporate action. Appropriate bodies such as a central academic council, staff council, departmental meets etc. may be set up, if not already present, and procedures may be lay down to govern functioning. This is particularly important to avoid sharing resources at the expense of the efficiency of any single unit of the corporate body.
The Peer Team, therefore, recommends greater participatory governance and more straight financial administration. Whereas the concord which prevails on the campus chiefly depends on the principal’s influence, which is good, it may be systematized to foreclose any consequences which may arise in the event of human failure.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The Peer Team identified a few significant features which are found conducive to the continued congenial atmosphere of the college and for the smooth functioning of the institution.
· Good leadership and excellent interpersonal relationship exists between the faculty and the non-teaching staff. This is also true between the non-teaching staff and the students of the college.
· The college has developed a commendable system of maintaining student records and their performance before and after their entry into the college.
· Performance record maintained through the input output statements indicating improvement in the output is another notable feature.
· The college provides the necessary academic help to promote research activity.
· The weekly publication of the “Newman Times” provides an avenue for creative expression by students.
· The overall discipline of the college is appreciated.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
The Peer Team would like to commend the institution for the following aspects:
· The college tries to achieve its goal of offering liberal educational facilities to students of meagre means who come form the economically backward, rural and semi-urban neighbourhood.
· The curriculum of the college has included various facetes of value education. Co-curricula & Extra-curricular activities in varuous Clubs and Associations also give emphasis to this
· Teachers update their knowledge by attending orientation and refresher programmes. Some have attended national/international seminars. A few of them have published papers in reputed journals. The state prescribed self-appraisal is used to assess teachers’ performance.
· The evaluation system provides for internal assessment which is given 20% weightage. Periodical terminal tests, assignments and seminars are used as instruments of assessment.
· Some of the departments are quite active in research work, leading to publications in reputed journals.
· There is an internet facility
· Other facilities in the campus include an audio-visual room, a student centre with a canteen, waiting rooms, co-operative store, bank, post office and a chapel.
· Almost all the departments have a commendable practice of maintaining student “input-output register” wherein the student academic performance is recorded and monitored right from the entry of marks secured at pre degree level till the completion of the course.
· Besides the tutorial system which functions quite well, various extra curricular clubs provide opportunities for the total personality development of students.
· The career guidance and counselling centre in particular has been engaged in motivating and traning students for career prospects.
· The utilization of space outside college hours (auditorium is let out on hire) and the generation of income from the vacant college land from farming are instances of healthy strategies for mobilising resources.
· It runs other educational institutions, including colleges under corporate management.
The Peer Team would like to offer the following suggestions for the improvement of the institution which would further enhance the quality of the services rendered by the institution.
· Offering of computer facility to all departments
· Training of both teaching and non-teaching staff in the use of computers
· Making internet facility more accessible to students
· Making computer programmes as a required additional input for all students
· Efforts need to be made to bring in choice-based curriculum in the allied subjects with the concurrence of the university/government bearing in mind the societal needs
· Improvement of the canteen facility
· There is a need for providing hostel for both boys and girls.
In all, the Peer Team appreciated the social commitment and concern for the educational upliftment of the poor in this backward region. It is hoped that the college community, with its ability, enthusiasm and vision will grow to greater heights and live up to the emerging challenges of the ensuing millennium.