'Trust deficit between teachers and students'

  • Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 20, 2014 11:43 IST

Panjab University (PU) students and teachers face a trust deficit, says varsity’s self-study report submitted to National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC).

NAAC is an autonomous body set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country.

In its 2014 report, PU has said there appears to be "inadequate mutual trust and confidence" between the two parties, which was reflected in teachers' opposition to the introduction of the teacher evaluation by students system in its original form.

While the varsity had attempted to introduce the policy last year, various teacher groups of PU opposed its contents before it was tabled before the senate and syndicate for their approval. Bowing to the pressure, PU watered down its policy: according to the its new rules, only those having 75% attendance and no re-appear papers are allowed to evaluate teachers. Moreover, evaluation forms could be handed only to the teacher concerned.

Report went on to point out PU's reluctance to introduce academic reforms such as choice-based credit system, internalisation of evaluation as against the present practice.

Other challenges

It also pointed out PU faced various challenges, one of the most important being the staff crunch it currently faces. The report noted that there were a number of vacancies in various teaching positions, which it said were an impediment to the smooth conduct of various academic programmes.

It said certain departments such as languages, humanities, social sciences as well as newly created structures offering cutting-edge programmes such as nuclear medicine, stem cell, nano science and technology functioned with sub-optimal faculty and were struggling to "do justice to their course programmes", which may erode the credibility of the system. The report, however, noted that PU continued to make every effort to recruit new staff.

The report also highlighted challenges such as increased politicisation of student body elections, which it said vitiated the academic atmosphere on campus. "This trend, if unchecked at the right time, will eventually destabilise the whole system," reads the report.

Problems like uncertain flow of grant, a macro-level challenge arising out of creation of a number of central universities and world-class national universities competing for funds and the faculty and consolidation of the newly started programmes also need to be resolved soon, the report said.

The report also highlights problem area such as student support services on PU campus, including a structured grievance redressal cell, effective placement services, institutional support and freeship for underprivileged students especially in expensive/self-financing programmes, which need improvement.

Report also showers praises

In the report, PU has highlighted its various strengths which have propelled the varsity to being one of the best in the country.

1.Good quality research being undertaken in a number of disciplines, especially in pharmacy, chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, biomedical science, life sciences, among others.

2. Impressive infrastructure.

3. A good track record and social reputation, as well as its location which helps PU attract a significant number of meritorious students.

4. Significant resource generation and facility development through offering a wide range of programmes in career focused/cutting-edge areas.

5. Innovative managerial initiatives of the recent past in creating new institutional structures.

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