Clearly discomfited by negative news reports about the National Assessment & Accreditation Council (NAAC) delegation’s visit to Panjab University, the varsity administration reacted by instructing department heads and senior faculty members not to interact with reporters on issues related to the NAAC visit.
The university staff has also been asked not to allow reporters to enter the premises of departments where the inspection is in progress. The authorities have also barred the staff and students from taking photographs of the NAAC team’s visit, fearing leaks to the media.
Confirming the development, PU director of public relations Vineet Punia said: “The order was issued following objections raised by members of the NAAC team over photographs being taken during the evaluation process.”
The 16-member delegation is on the campus to evaluate and accredit the university with a fresh NAAC rating. On Monday team members had expressed their misgivings over variation in data in the report provided to them, pointing out discrepancies in the number of departments, hostels and sanctioned positions. They were also unsatisfied with the presentation given by the vice-chancellor.
NAAC is an autonomous body set up by the University Grants Commission to assess and accredit the country’s higher education institutions. Accreditation is a voluntary system of evaluation of institutions and programs based on self-evaluation and peer-assessment for improving academic standards and strengthening public accountability.
According to sources, members of the delegation, divided into four groups, went to various PU departments during the past two days with each visit lasting between 15 to 20 minutes. A senior faculty member wondered how a department could be assessed in such a short time.
They raised the issue of some courses being run by the varsity without a proper faculty.
Panjab University’s accreditation expired in January 2013 and an NAAC delegation had last visited the campus in 2009.
Students raise issues
Members of the NAAC team also interacted with varsity students who highlighted various problems they had been facing after asking the dean of students welfare and other PU officials to leave them alone. They complained about the poor condition of hostel washrooms, outsiders residing in hostels and parking hassles on the campus.
Female students brought up the issue of sexual harassment on the campus besides demanding they should be allowed to visit the PU library till 1 am during examinations. Married PhD research scholars said the varsity should provide them accommodation.
The team members were also informed about the absence of teacher evaluation by students. On the flip side, students had words of appreciation for the varsity for its sports infrastructure.