INSTITUTIONAL ACCREDITATION OF
PONDICHERRY UNIVERSITY,† PONDICHERRY
The Pondicherry University was established as a Central University through an Act of Parliament by the Government of India in October 1985.† It is an affiliating University covering the Union Territory of Pondicherry as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep. The University is located in†Kalapet of Pondicherry. The main objective of the University is to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in the field of higher education in the country.† The institution believes in imparting quality education and has been making concerted efforts in moving towards academic excellence.† The unique feature of this young university is that it has been attracting students and faculty not only from different parts of the country but from all over the world.† The university is recognized by the UGC under 2(f) and 12(b) of the UGC Act of 1956.
The university volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bangalore and submitted its preliminary Self-Study Report in October 1998.† NAAC constituted a peer team to visit the university and to validate the Self-study Report.† The team members comprised Prof. M. Madaiah, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore as Chairman, Prof. K.B. Powar, Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi and Prof. Aludiapillai, former Vice-Chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University as members.† The peer team visited the University on 8th, 9th and 10th† of April 1999.
The Pondicherry University has a serene, beautiful and vast campus of 780 acres with excellent infrastructure and it faces the panoramic Bay of Bengal.† The University has 34 Departments, one Post-Graduate Teaching Centre, one Constituent College, 3 recognised research centres and 24 affiliated colleges.† It has one hundred and thirty eight members of various staff and five hundred and fifty six members of the non-teaching staff including ninety-seven technical†staff.† There are 950 students in PG programmes, 102 in M.Phil, and 192 in Ph.D programmes in different disciplines.† Further, there are 1280 students enrolled in various diploma/certificate courses in the university.† Fifty per cent of the students are from other States and from abroad.† In addition, there are 12500 students in the affiliated colleges/academic units.† A large number of students are enrolled in the Distance Education System of the University.† The university academic programme operates on the Choice Based Credit System.†
The peer team carefully studied and analyzed the Self-Study Report submitted by the Pondicherry University. During the institutional visit, the team went through all the relevant documents;†visited the departments and the facilities; and interacted with the various constituents of the institution. The academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, sports and extension facilities of the institution were examined. The team also visited the Community College, the Academic Staff College and the Directorate of Distance Education.† The peer team interacted with the Executive Council, the Vice-chancellor, faculty, staff, students of the university and the Principals/Directors of the affiliated colleges and institutions. Based on the above exercise, and keeping in mind the seven criteria identified by† NAAC, the peer team† was able to make the judgement presented in the report. The assessment of the institution under various criteria, the commendable features of the institution as well as the issues of concern are presented in the following pages.
Section-II: Criterion-wise Analysis
Criterion I† : Curricular Aspects
The Pondicherry University has made progress in its curriculum development programme.† The Choice Based Credit System offered since 1992 by the university is a unique feature, and it allows greater freedom for the students to determine their own curriculum.† The university has done well† by offering a wide-range of innovative and job-oriented vocational courses.† The students have a variety of options available to them in both core and soft courses in the academic basket. This high degree of flexibility is possible also because of the modular nature of the courses offered by the university. Interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary studies are much encouraged in the university and every student has to take at least 12 credits from another department.† Students can also earn their credits from other institutions of higher learning such as Indira Gandhi National Open University.
Academic programmes are reviewed and re-designed by the academic Programme Committees at the departmental level and by the Boards of Studies and Academic Council at the university level from time to time. All the departments have updated the syllabi adding new components,† keeping in view the interest of the younger generation in higher learning and the socio-economic-educational changes that are taking place in the country. The student representation in the Programme Committees and the external peers in the other committees further strengthen these efforts. The university has established an Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), which among other things, looks after the feedback from students and employees. However, these efforts should be improved and used to enhance the quality of education provided.
The freedom enjoyed by the faculty to design relevant and innovative courses, and the wide options available for students in choosing the courses, have already earned good reputation to the university. More modern courses in Science, Information Technology, Social Sciences, and Management Sciences may enhance the academic activity of the community.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
Teaching-learning and evaluation are carried on successful.†† The university has adopted the Choice Based Credit System. The academic programmes follow the Semester Scheme. Students are selected for admission into various courses through a combination of special entrance tests, interviews and their academic record. The university offers many bridge† courses for the benefit of the† students.
There are departmental libraries for the use of both faculty and students. All the post-graduate students of the university† have to do project work as a part of their academic requirement and secure a minimum of 4 credits, out of which one credit is given to successful viva voce performance. Seminar presentation on topics of current interest is an in-built mechanism in the curriculum design.† Teaching aids such as audio-visual aids are also used to make the teaching-learning process more effective.† Teachers give individual attention to improve the academic performance of studies.
There are adequate, well qualified and experienced teachers in the university. Teaching faculty are drawn from all over the country. In view of the expanding teaching and research programmes in the university, the faculty positions needs to be strengthened at the earliest by filling the newly created positions under the 9th Plan and also the existing vacant teaching posts. The institution follows the self-appraisal method to evaluate teachersí performance, and they are encouraged to take advantage of seminars/conferences/workshops. In fact, as many as 65 faculty have availed themselves of study leave and sabbatical leave during the last two years to improve their professional competence. Teachers are motivated as well as dedicated. An exemplary work culture is an added feature of this relatively new university.† These traits are very essential to mould the academic and personal potential of students.
The university has entered into MOUs with 16 international and national institutions for collaborative research and teaching. The university has also earmarked funds for inviting faculty from reputed institutions to interact with faculty and students.
Studentsí academic performance is† periodically assessed through internal assessment and through final examinations.† The peer team noted† the successful performance of students in different examinations.† Interaction with the representatives of the PG†students of the university reveals that the students are very happy with teaching and evaluation. However, the mechanism to get feedback from the students for the improvement of the†teaching-learning processes needs to be streamlined.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
A special committee known as the Academic Research Committee to facilitate and monitor research activities in the university is functioning with the Vice-chancellor as Chairman. Practically all the† faculty members are involved in research. Over 57 projects funded by† nearly twenty state, national and international agencies are currently in operation. The laboratories,† the library and other infrastructure essential for research are available and efforts are in evidence for continuously augmenting these facilities, by obtaining grants from various funding agencies. A well-stocked library, with nearly 1,00,000 books, and† libraries in the departments are available. The library subscribes for 397 international and national journals.† More than†Rs.100 lakhs were spent in augmenting the library facilities in recent weeks to facilitate literature search of researchers.
180 students do doctoral work and all full time scholars have fellowships/scholarships.† Interaction between scholars and the faculty is frequent and an atmosphere conducive to research is very much in evidence. The record of publication of research papers and books is quite good.† During a five year period, 121 scholars have earned their Ph.D. degree.† Many†faculty members have won awards/been honoured for their contribution in their field of specialization.
The areas in which the expertise and experience of the faculty are available in the university are indicated in a booklet brought out for this purpose. Several departments of the university and also the Community College have undertaken consultancy work and earned about Rs. 5 lakhs during 1998-99.† Computer Science, Chemistry, Management, Tourism, Pollution Control, Energy Technology and Bio-technology are the major areas in which such services are offered. Though an infant, the university may consider further strengthening its consultancy activities in the coming years.
A faculty member coordinates N.S.S†activities and extension work is taken up through the N.S.S. units and the Centre for Adult and Continuing Education. This area also can be further strengthened with additional resources, so that it can make a greater impact on the society.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The campus has adequate buildings to accommodate the departments, schools, centres and utilities like library, bank, canteen, general† administration; and quarters for staff and hostels for students strewn over the entire campus.†New buildings have been planned during the Ninth Plan period to provide better accommodation to certain centres and departments which have grown considerably in recent years. The existing buildings are maintained well and optimally used.†
The university library is a member of the INFLIBNET. There is an advisory committee. The ratio of library books to number of students enrolled is 57:1. The library provides reprographic facilities and† it subscribes for several primary journals both in CD form and hard-copies to help the teachers and students to keep pace with the state of art. Computerisation of the library has almost been completed and latest equipment like CD-ROM, computer with laser printer are available.
Internet facility is available in the Computer Centre. The well equipped Computer Centre works without restriction of work times, all day and all night. The internal networking of all the departments with optic fibre cables has been† completed and is expected to be activated in a fortnight.
Seven hostels accommodating 360 students function under the care of a Warden assisted by two Deputies.† Since there is greater demand for more hostel facilities, the university has undertaken construction of two more hostels. A subsidised canteen functions for the benefit of scholars and staff.
A sports stadium with cinder track, a football field, courts for basket ball and tennis are available. Students from a number of neighboring states are enrolled in the courses offered by the Department of Sports and Physical Education.
USIC headed by a Technical Officer and the engineering wing headed by an Executive Engineer take care of the maintenance of instruments and physical infrastructure respectively.† Costly equipment such as Spectrometer used by more than one departments, are kept in a common centre. There is an inbuilt mechanism under USIC for repair/rectification of the instruments to minimize the maintenance cost. Minimum workshop facilities are made available at USIC.
The health centre has two medical doctors to cater for the urgent needs of the students and staff as out-patients. It also has 2 pharmacists, 2 staff nurses, and one nursing attendant. All the employees of the university compulsorily undergo health checkup at the time of joining the university. Facilities are made available for periodical check up and all employees are covered under the Group Insurance Scheme.
Criterion V:† Student Support and Progression
A unique feature of this university is that more than 50 percent of the students are drawn from other states and abroad. The students appear to be attracted to this university on account of the good quality of education, flexibility in the curriculum, innovative courses and good record of placement of the products. The feedback from students is gathered by faculty at the end of each semester and analysed.
Informative and updated prospectus is published from year to year containing every item of information a student would need. The advisor-student system where a group of students are attached to a faculty for counseling on academic and personal matters during the entire period of their stay in the university, is functioning effectively. This enables faculty to constantly monitor the progress of students and guide them appropriately in various academic matters including the selection of soft courses under the CBCS.
Financial aids are available to students from the Government of India and the State Government and from other agencies such as DST, SCIR,† Air Force Wifeís Fellowships, NBHM scholarship, Savarnalu Nayagar fellowship. During the last two years over 320 students have received financial aid. There is a full time Placement Officer attached to the School of Management.†In addition, faculty members act as placement officers and offer guidance and counselling to students.†A† special feature of this university is that most of its products find employment without much delay. A cell which takes special care of SC/ST students is actively involved in their development.
The Alumni Association is functioning in the university and it also helps to get placement for students and scholars who do project work and it funds the university.† Overseas students are offered guidance and, wherever necessary, special consideration is given to them such as hostel accommodation, and facilities for socio-cultural activities.
Criterion VI:† Organisation and Management
Various statutory bodies like the Court, the Executive Council, the Academic Council and the Finance Committee have been constituted according to the provisions of the Pondicherry†University Act.† In addition, a number of other committees including the CBCS committee, Programme committees for various departments, Internal Quality Assurance Cell, Library committee, Discipline committee etc., have been nominated for effective academic and administrative functioning. The academic calendar of the university is prepared by a committee. It is generally announced during March/April of every year. The academic schedule is monitored by the committee mentioned above.
The reservation policy of the Government of India has been implemented in the recruitment of staff. Confidential reports of the administrative staff are periodically analyzed for effectiveness of individual workers. The reports are used for considering staff for promotion to higher cadres. The university has programmes for upgrading efficiency through large scale computerization and training programmes.†
It is heartening† to find that though a grievance† redressal† mechanism has been established, no occasion has arisen in the past to need its services. Deputy registrar (Admn.) is entrusted with the responsibilities of redressing the grievances of both the students and employees of the university in addition to the functioning of studentsí grievances cell under the Dean, college Development Council.
Welfare programmes†include† among others construction of a working womenís†hostel and finalisation of a proposal to upgrade the health centre. Motor vehicle allowance, house building allowance, computer allowance, cycle allowance, transport facility, and university co-operative credit society are available for the staff.
New pay-scales have been implemented and†arrears have been paid to the staff.†The university has been making efforts to generate additional revenue through its distance education programmes and consultancy services, and through rationalisation of fees. Fee, except mess charges (subsidised to some extent by UGC grant for certain hostel amenities), are fixed on the existing norms and fee structures of other universities. Tuition and other fee were increased nominally.† The Pondicherry University has a very good record of utilization of grants received from UGC and other sources.
Criterion VII: Other† Healthy Practices
The Pondicherry University has certain unique features. These include:
1. successful†† implementation of the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) that has augmented flexibility in academic programmes
2. student-adviser system of counselling
3. collaborative teaching programmes†with about 10† foreign universities which have reinforced academic programmes, and improved their quality
4. introduction of a five year integrated teaching programme leading up to masterís level, for some subjects in the faculty of science(Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry)
5. successful development and implementation of a quality Distance Education† Programme
6. a† community college that has been very well received† by the community, and has generated skilled human resources in many disciplines
7. establishment of SUBDIC
8. computerisation† of the Library and Examination division and†the Administration
9. a good computer centre
10. generation of resource through consultancy programmes in the area of environment
11. a School of Management that has a high reputation
12. Department of Future Studies and†School of Performing Arts that have made unique contributions in spite of their smallness and resource†constraints
13. the† IQAC
Section III: Overall Analysis
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 of the Pondicherry University in translating its vision and goals of teaching and advancement of the frontiers of knowledge into practice.
The peer team† is convinced that there are a number of features of the universityís approach to the assurance of the quality and standards which it would wish to commend, as well as others which it would wish to bring to the attention of the university for further consideration. The peer team would like to commend the university for its many good practices, in particular,
1. the Choice Based Credit System offered by the university which allows greater freedom to students to choose their own curriculum and facilitates their participation in decision making for implementing courses through the Programme Committees
2. the wide-range of innovative and job-oriented vocational courses that helps students in their career planning
3. the considerable freedom and flexibility for the faculty to design relevant and innovative courses
4. periodic internal assessment of student performance; final examinations and the provision to return answer papers with feedback for student verification
5. the importance given to project work, seminars and fieldwork as a part of the curriculum
6. the internal networking of all the departments through intranet with internet connectivity
7. computerization of the library, the literature search facilities with CD-ROM, and the other computational facilities available in the library
8. the national and international character of† the student population and faculty who are drawn from other states and overseas
9. efforts of the university to generate additional revenue through its distance education programmes and consultancy services, and through rationalization of fees.
10. the record of utilization of grants received from UGC and other sources and
11. the establishment of IQAC and its role in collecting student feedback on the various aspects of†educational experience like course content, and instructor effectiveness.
As it continues to develop its systems and arrangements for assuring the quality of its educational programmes and the academic standards of its degrees awarded, the university may wish to consider the following:
1. The university needs to explore the scope of introducing many more new courses in Science, Information Technology,† Social Sciences, and Management Sciences with a high degree of flexibility for the benefit of students.
2. The members of the Team, are convinced of the excellent work done by the university in teaching the academic aspects of the education. However, they wish to suggest that the university may want to bestow greater care and attention upon needs of graduates, who join the university to reinforce their cognitive academic knowledge with effective skill-orientation necessary to apply their knowledge to real life. Not only career orientation but an overall development of students to communicate fluently and to be on their own with self confidence in a competitive world is more crucial.
3. While the resources and time spent for developing library and computing facilities are commendable, it would be useful† if a review of whether the present coordination pocedures in respect of these facilities are adequate for the present and the future learning needs of†students.
4. In view of the expanding teaching and research programme in the university, the faculty positions needs to be strengthened at the earliest by filling the newly created positions under the 9th Plan and also the existing teaching vacancies.†
5. The Peer Team, while appreciating the efforts made by the institution to get the feedback from the students and other stakeholders, feel that a more comprehensive analysis of such feedback be done and made known to the relevant functionaries on a regular basis. This would help the institution to achieve its objective of quality assurance better. The follow up on feedback is essential.
6. Computer facilities for the non-computer science students need strengthening since access to more and uptodate information will go a long way in providing a competitive edge to students which is essential in this rapidly changing society.†
7. Placement and guidance services at the institutional level may be thought of.
8. Student involvement in the Programme Committee should become more dynamic. This will help in training them to become more and more responsible for their curricular decisions.
9. Though the traditional quality assurance mechanisms like Boards of Studies, Academic Council, Senate and†Executive Council† play their roles, in a strategic plan to improve the quality of education in the changed context, a coordinating mechanism like Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) would be able to give a holistic thrust unifying the limited roles of each one of the statuary bodies they are expected to play. While appreciating the establishment of IQAC, better co-ordination and more constructive interaction between the departments and IQAC is to be reviewed.
10. There is an urgent need for the expansion of both physical and academic facilities to meet the needs of the growing student population.
11. Both consultancy and extension activities need to be strengthened to make the benefits reach the immediate neighbourhood.
The Pondicherry University has been rendering good service in the area of higher learning since its inception in 1985.†Its potentialities are great and achievements may be accelerated.