Assessment Report on
Institutional Accreditation of
Government Arts College
Udhagamandalam, Tamil Nadu
The Government Arts College, Udhagamandalam which was established in 1955 as an Intermediate College was later upgraded to a First Grade college by introducing basic degree programmes in history, economics, physics and mathematics. It is affiliated to the Bharathiyar University. When it was established, it was the only college in Udhagamandalam. Now it benefits the first generation learners who belong to socio-economically and educationally backward sections of the society in Nilgiri District.
The motto of the college is “Do and Dare” which represents duty and valour. Accordingly, those who graduate from this institution are moulded to perform their duties properly and face realities of life courageously.
The college is located in a sylvan and idyllic surrounding with a campus of 10 acres. The historical Connamara cottage / stone house (one of the buildings of the college) was once a centre of literary activity under G.U.Pope who translated Thirukural to English. It is from this cottage Lord Macaulay drafted the Indian Penal Code. The main building itself is a historical monument as it was a Collector’s office during the British period. Other buildings like Botany and Zoology Block, Physics and Chemistry Block, Computer Science and Auditorium Block were built later. Over the years, the need for diversification of courses was met by introducing subjects like botany and zoology, chemistry, Tamil and English. The unique feature of the institution is the Introduction of a degree course in Defence Studies in 1977. A beginning towards career oriented specialized courses was also made by starting B.Com. and B.Sc. Computer Science courses.
The college which had a modest beginning as an Intermediate College has grown into a composite institution of higher learning, with Master’s degree and research programmes in Tamil, botany, chemistry and physics. Today, the College has 12 academic departments with 90 faculty members, 15 of whom have research degrees in their respective disciplines. There are 1686 students of whom 121 have enrolled for Master’s and Research degrees. It is gratifying to note that a majority of students come from remote areas and nearly a third of them are women. The college accommodates all tribal applicants.
Besides regular curricular activities, there are several co-curricular activities like NSS, NCC, Youth Red Cross and sports in the college.
In response to an application in 1999 for evaluation and accreditation of the college, NAAC constituted the Peer Team to visit the college and validate the study report submitted by it. The Peer Team consisted of Prof. K. M. Kaveriappa, Chairman, Department of Applied Botany, Mangalore University as its Chairman and Dr. P.J. Poulose, Principal of S.N.D.P. Yogam Training College, Adimali, and Sr.Dr. Christine Rebello, Principal of St.Francis College for Women (Autonomous) Secunderabad, as its members. The Peer Team facilitated by Dr. Antony Stella, Deputy Advisor of NAAC visited the college between 19 and 21 January, 2000 and interacted with the faculty, non-teaching and administrative staff, students, alumni, parents and others and visited various facilities and units of the college. Based on the different criteria laid down by NAAC the Peer Team has made an objective assessment of the institution and reports as under:
The College follows the curriculum prescribed by the Bharathiyar University as there is no autonomy regarding the course design. There are 21 programmes including 12 undergraduate, 4 postgraduate, 3 M.Phil. and 2 Ph.D. programmes. Many of the programmes are conventional. However, the college has recently introduced B.Sc. Computer Science, and the UGC vocational course In water management.
The Department of Economics has already restructured the traditional B.A. Economics by introducing accountancy, taxation, computer applications and business management in the curriculum.
The college has strong co-curricular activities like N.C.C., N.S.S., Youth Red Cross and sports. Though the college has fund of one unit of 100 students, 350 volunteers have been registered in N.S.S. The Activities such as organising a rally to raise the Kargil soldiers’ welfare fund, Orissa cyclone Relief Fund and creating awareness of wild life care deserve commendation. N.C.C. cadets have been involved in clearing the debris in Mudumalai forests to prevent pollution and forest fire. They have helped the police in security arrangements during general elections. Students have been very active at the university, national and international level sports and games under the able leadership of the officers in-charge. In the recent past, five of the active N.C.C. cadets and sportsmen of the college occurred secured jobs in defence services, banks, etc., on the basis of their outstanding performance.
The vocational course in water management is well conceived for the benefit of the hill district. Certain new and job oriented courses like Travel and Tourism, Plantation Management and Wild Life Management may be introduced as inter-disciplinary programmes. It is worthwhile starting more postgraduate programmes in microbiology, biochemistry, computer applications and management sciences which have greater job potential.
The curriculum of Commerce may be restructured to introduce taxation and botany may be enriched with biodiversity and plant conservation. Defence Studies may include maths.
The sporadic changes made in curriculum may be systematised to make reform periodical and regular. Corporate exercises, as college community, may enrich the university courses. Field training in computers may be help to students who do FORTRAN and also to students of B.Sc. Computer Science in general.
Admission to the undergraduate and postgraduate courses is made on the basis of marks in qualifying examinations. Entrance test is conducted to judge students’ knowledge and aptitude for admission to M.Phil. courses.
The college follows the semester system for all courses. The conventional lecture is by far the most used method of teaching in the college. In science departments OHP and epidiascope are used. However, teaching methods may be modernised through the use of advanced education technology like computer-assisted teaching.
Many students find English, mathematics and chemistry difficult to cope with while tribals have difficulty in learning Tamil. These factors are reflected in the relatively low percentage of passes in the overall results. Remedial instructional programmes may be strengthened in these subjects to help first generation learners.
Periodical assessment of student progress is made through monthly and terminal examinations. However, they are not taken seriously by students as the performance is not counted for final assessment.
The recruitment of teachers is made by the Government through the Teacher Recruitment Board. Members of the faculty are adequately qualified and 15 members have research degrees. There are some unfilled vacancies in the departments and steps have been taken to appoint guest faculty to meet the work load.
There is good interpersonal relationship between students and the faculty resulting in the healthy academic atmosphere prevalent in the campus. The commitment of the faculty to their profession is noteworthy. Some members of the faculty have participated in national and international level seminars and refresher courses.
In addition to the curricular activities like NCC, NSS, Youth Red Cross and sports which are organised regularly, it is advisable to conduct quiz, debate, elocution competitions, mock parliament etc. to instill self-confidence thus promoting all round personality development of students.
Student motivation may be enchanced by making class-room pedagogy learner-centred and more interesting. When terminal assessments, which test memory fall into disfavor easy, formative continuous assessment may be adopted. Teaching performance appraisal, student involvement in more learning activities as individuals and group may be encouraged.
The Departments of Botany, Chemistry and Tamil offer research programmes leading to M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees. There are 15 full time and 7 part-time research scholars.
Students and faculty are involved in extension work such as AIDS awareness, blood donation, leprosy eradication mission, population education, adult education, environmental education etc.,
In order to further strengthen the research activities members of the faculty with research degrees may identify certain areas of research based on needs and aspirations of the local society such as tribal art, culture, history and folklore and submit proposals to the U.G.C. and other funding agencies. Likewise, in the Department of Biology, biodiversity and conservation and bio control of pests may become thrust areas of research . Tamil and History departments may jointly establish a museum of folk culture, art and history of the tribes of this region. Research work leading to M.Phil. and Ph.D. should be published in technical and subject journals to make the findings available to other researchers. It is worth noting that the teachers of Defence Studies Department are invitied as guest faculty in the renowned Defence Service Staff College at Wellington.
Formal research may be supplemented by projects, seminars, term papers, surveys and interviews which are research tools: more may be several opportunities to do so in the millennium.
The college is situated in picturesque surroundings. The campus is kept clean with the help of the workers of the college and student volunteers. Since it is a government college its maintenance needs are looked after by the civil and electrical wings of P.W.D.
The college has developed library facilities for the past 45 years by adding 51529 volumes. Most of the books from the central library were transferred to the neatly maintained departmental libraries. The current working hours of the library may be extended.
The equipment in the science departments are sufficient for U.G. student practical work. The P.G. programmes: particularly those of Chemistry and Physics require modernisation of this. The college computer centre has 19 computer terminals of which five are Pentium III system. There are fax, Internet and e-mail services.
Outdoor sports facilities of the college include a multipurpose playground. The government indoor and outdoor stadium are regularly made use of by the college. Sports persons are given preference in admission to U.G. and P.G. programmes and financial assistance is provided to those participating in sports in university, national and international levels.
The college would do well to provide audio/video, reprography facilities in the library and plan for automation of library services. Separate computers may also be provided to departments which have research facilities and to the departments of economics, mathematics and defence studies.
There is a separate rest room for ladies. Hostel facilities are available for men, but the response is poor. There is no separate hostel facility for women. Some women students are accommodated in the government hostels. There are 36 staff quarters including a designated bungalow for the Principal. The infrastructure of the college is also used for conducting B.Com. degree classes in the evening.
Some of the buildings of the college such as the main building and Connamara cottage are of historical value and have to be preserved for posterity, with the assistance from relevant funding agencies. There is need for a separate hostel for women for which U.G.C. special assistance is available. Canteen facilities and services may be improved. The local transport service to the college is inadequate. The college authorities may take suitable steps in this regard.
The library should be updated with more journals and books. More copies of some important books may be added to the library.
Most students who preferred admission to this college are from economically backward families and could not afford to go to other institutions of this place where education is costly. The college provides several types of financial assistance to poor and Backward Class students in the form of freeships and scholarships. Teachers themselves sometimes provide temporary financial assistance to students who may not be able to pay the fee on time. Approximately 40% of the students avail themselves of various types of financial assistance.
The student drop-out rate is significantly high. The average pass percentage of students for the year 1998-99 is in the range of 30-50 %. In some subjects such as Tamil, Chemistry, English and Physics some students have secured ranks in the university examinations.
The college, in collaboration with the district employment and guidance cell, provides coaching classes for students who appear for civil services and banking examinations. Outstanding students of the college including N.C.C. cadets and sports persons have secured good jobs in various public and private sectors. The college will have to identify the causes for the low success rate among students admitted to various courses and implement measures to improve the same.
The Peer Team has been pleased to note that the college has taken steps to start a placement cell which will interact with industries and plantations to enable students to obtain placement.
There is provision for vertical mobility for students in PG courses like M.Phil. and Ph.D. in some subjects. Introduction of new P.G. programmes will meet the aspirations of many youngsters.
The defunct alumni association may be rejuvenated and its services could be used in restructuring courses, development of infrastructure, and in formulating welfare schemes for weaker sections of students. Establishing a student counselling and grievance redressal cell would improve overall performance of students.
Remedial programmes for weaker students, chiefly in the area of languages and such sciences as are difficult, may be made part of curriculum requirement. They may be well designed and administrated with the help of experts. The poor progression of students to whatever reason it may be attributed, may be or matter of serious concern.
The Government of Tamil Nadu manages the college and provides for its maintenance and developmental needs. The college has received 22 lakhs as U.G.C. grants under IX plan. Besides the PTA funds are also used to meet the expenditure on short term guest faculty remuneration, furniture requirement etc. The local M.L.A. has contributed Rs 3 lakhs to purchase computers for the computer centre. The College Council is headed by the Principal and consists of Heads of Departments as members. The discipline and library committees assist the Principal in the respective areas.
The performance of non-teaching staff is monitored through surprise checks and annual auditing. Employees avail themselves of festival advance, cloth advance, housing advance, marriage advance, vehicle advance and medical reimbursement.
Students are covered by group personal accident insurance. Weaker students have scholarship facilities. During 1999-2000 alone an amount of Rs 10 lakhs was disbursed as scholarships.
The college has improved its communication facilities by introducing e-mail and fax.
Confidential reports of staff are written by the respective heads and countersigned by the Principal before they are forwarded to the Government for necessary action. Self appraisal of performance is used for career advancement of teachers. Vacancies departments must be filled to cope with the workload in the departments. Which has accumulated because of absence of teachers.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The Peer Team has noticed the following healthy practices in the institution:
· imparting higher education in basic and applied subjects mainly to the poor, which has been appreciated by parents and alumni
· sense of discipline among the students of the college and the fact that there has been no instance of any type of agitation by them so far. Students are highly motivated to learn.
· good interpersonal relationship between staff and students
· caring attitude of the faculty which has been appreciated by students and alumni
· extension and outreach programmes such as blood donation, leprosy education, AIDS awareness, environmental education and effective participation in cultural activities which contribute to the overall personality development of students
· serving meals to children of the local deaf and dumb school on the new moon day of every month by teachers, which is a rare gesture
· active participation of the PTA which has been extending financial support to give remuneration to guest lecturers, provide fax facilities, purchase of furniture and give prizes to outstanding students
· student cooperative society which supplies stationeries to students and has won a trophy for its efficient management and
· good rapport between the Principal and the staff which has created a healthy atmosphere in the college.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
After careful analysis of the report and visits to the college on 19th 20th and 21st of January 2000 the Peer Team is pleased to observe that the college has been fulfilling the objective of providing higher education specially to first generation learners namely the children of backward classes and tribals of the hill district. Over the past 45 years of its existence, the college has responded to the higher education needs of society through its academic, research and extension programmes. However, it would be highly desirable if the following suggestions are considered by the college Management and the Principal.
· starting of certain vocational programmes like tourism and travel and post graduate programmes in wild life management, biochemistry, microbiology, management studies, computer applications etc that provide job opportunities as well as vertical mobility to students. This is essential in view of the fact that there is no other institution in the district which has post graduate programmes.
· introducing programmes in folk arts, culture, medicine, language and tribal welfare programmes, conservation and biodiversity and development of new materials which will strengthen research activities
· establishing a folk art and culture museum
· preserving certain structures of the college such as the main building and the Connamara cottage as historical monuments as also provide protection to the 177 year old Oak tree
· filling up the vacancies of teachers in the departments to improve the quality of teaching
· remedial teaching for first generation learners who are unable to cope with the subjects like English, mathematics etc
· using newer methods of teaching through advanced educational technology like computer assisted teaching, audio visual aids, field visits, study tours, student projects and group discussions and
· organising orientation programmes for teachers on newer methods of teaching
Higher education has become a highly competitive field and the college should upgrade itself academically from time to time to provide quality education to people. The Peer Team is of the opinion that under the dynamic leadership of the Principal, dedicated faculty, staff and enthusiastic students the institution will evolve itself into a centre of excellence. We wish all them good luck in their future endeavours.