The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sanctioned a grant of Rs.14.56 crore to the University of Calicut for the 11th Plan period. The grand allotment came recently following the recommendations of a 10-member committee that inspected the university and its facilities about a year ago. Although the amount recommended by the committee had been Rs.13.67 crore, Calicut University got Rs.89.5 lakh more.
The grant included Rs.9.26 crore for general development of central facilities and teaching departments, Rs.5.25 crore for merged schemes, and Rs.5 lakh for setting up of an Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC).
The university has been given permission to open two new departments—Department of Nano Technology and the Department of Computer Sciences. The UGC team that examined the university between in September last year was led by Amiya Kumar Bagchi, director of the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata.
The other members of the committee were Awadh Narain Tripathi, Emeritus Fellow at the Department of Physics, IIT, Roorkee, Sunil Chumber from All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Vaishna Narang, Professor of linguistics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, V.K. Sehgal, director of the Institute of Statistic and Computer Education, Bunderkhand University, Jhansi, Rajesh Prasad Shukla from Banaras Hindu University, Shashi Dhar, director of Collegiate Education, Kerala, A.K. Dogra, UGC joint secretary, Subhash Chandra, UGC statistical officier, and Nand Lal, UGC staffer.
The committee examined all departments and facilities within and outside the university’s main campus at Tenhipalam and held discussions with the officials, teachers, non-teaching staff and students.
After visiting the women’s hostel, for example, the committee made specific suggestions for modernisation of the kitchen and dining facilities, and recommended Rs.25 lakh for the purpose. The UGC has sanctioned Rs.30 lakh for a central composite science teaching block. The committee had noted that a central facility for teaching various science subjects was lacking on Calicut University campus.
Similarly, funds to the tune of Rs.20 lakh have been allocated for a central composite social science and languages block following the recommendations of the committee. The UGC has sanctioned Rs.40 lakh for setting up of a central liquid nitrogen plant for the use of all science departments.
It will be housed in the central composite science teaching block. The UGC has allotted Rs.30 lakh for a central facility for research and teaching in the Departments of Mass Communication and Journalism, Women Studies, and Philosophy.
The committee observed that there were many things to share between those departments. The committee suggested that the university actively promote book publication by translating the best Malayalam works to English and other Indian languages, and publishing social science textbooks in Malayalam from primary level to postgraduate level.
After visiting the Vatakara campus of the university, the UGC team recommended that the Department of Folklore Studies be shifted to the university main campus for better integration among the students as well as the department’s survival.
The UGC has sanctioned Rs.50 lakh for setting up of hostel facilities for women on the Dr. John Mathai Centre of Calicut University at Thrissur. Even when noting that the C.H. Mohammed Koya Central Library of the university had been in the forefront of modernisation among the university libraries in the State by computerising its services way back in 1997, the UGC team suggested that the library should introduce modern technologies so that more effective services could be provided to the academic community.
The UGC sanctioned Rs.15 lakh for digitisation of the Resource Centre with broadband connectivity, and Rs.20 lakh for purchase of books and journals. The visiting team was happy with the activities of the Educational Multi-Media Research Centre (EMMRC), the only such unit in Kerala engaged in the production of educational e-content for the UGC.
The UGC sanctioned Rs.10 lakh for the renovation of the Guest House kitchen following recommendations by the committee that the Guest House needed augmentation and modernisation. The UGC team praised the university for providing free medical services to the people of three neighbouring panchayats through its health centre. It suggested that the existing building be expanded, and the university’s annual fund allocation for medicine increased.
The UGC has sanctioned Rs.20 lakh for building expansion, it has granted Rs.15 lakh for setting up of an X-ray machine, an ultrasound machine, and an automatic analyzer at the health centre.
The UGC team suggested that the university set up solar and wind energy facilities, and launch garden development and rainwater harvesting process on a priority basis.
The UGC has sanctioned Rs.15 lakh for rainwater harvesting on the campus. The location of the campus was found to be ideal for exploiting wind energy. The committee recommended that the entire university campus be developed as a Wi-Fi zone by including the central library, hostels, guest house and the departments.
The university has been asked to maintain a server and website not only to disseminate information but also to house various databases created by research faculties. The visiting team recommended that the computer centre be made a nodal centre for all wireless installations. The UGC has sanctioned more than Rs.10 lakh for augmentation of ICT facilities.
The allocation of funds for the schemes merged with the development grants include travel grant, publication grant, seminar grant, visiting fellow grant, adventure sports grant, social development grant, faculty improvement programme grant, minorities coaching grant, and career guidance grant. The efforts of the university in setting up courses with social relevance, a placement cell and a finishing school came for special praise of the visiting UGC team. Similarly, the outreach programmes of the university also got a pat.
The UGC found that although most departments on the campus were connected to the Internet, full utilisation of the facility was not made possible owing to employment of low-levels of technology.
It suggested that high-level technology like optical fibre and Wi-Fi be employed to enhance the connectivity on the campus. It has been suggested that central and departmental library facilities be upgraded and modernised, and their stocks updated so as to ensure maximum utility for students and researchers.
The UGC noted that women enjoyed a majority on the campus. But there are insufficient facilities for women on the campus.
Non-availability of basic facilities for the large number of women visiting the university campus on various purposes has been found a major constraint. Toilets and rest rooms are not enough. There are no dining halls, recreation facilities and dormitories for women visiting the campus.
The women’s hostel is not in a position to give room for those visiting on temporary purposes, the UGC team pointed out.
The students of the campus, during their meeting with the UGC team, had raised various issues like shortage of faculty due to delay in appointments, delay in processing of UGC and other fellowships through the university, and delay in getting educational aids and grants for SC/ST students.
There were demands from the students to extend the library timing beyond the current closing time of 8 p.m. Women students were particularly insisting on making the library function round the clock. The UGC team suggested that the faculty on the campus be encouraged to conduct interdisciplinary research.
The committee also noted that some departments had not even initiated research programmes. Those departments should at least start with M.Phil. programmes, it said. The UGC team also suggested that students and teachers be encouraged to publish their research findings in journals and publications of national and international repute.
The delay in getting grants was the main concern raised by the faculty during their interaction with the UGC team.
Another point the faculty raised was the lack of adequate infrastructure and shortage of space for work. After interacting with the non-teaching staff of the university, the UGC team recommended that the university devise a training module for the staff to enhance their efficiency. The staff members demanded better facilities at the day care and the health centre.
Despite several shortcomings, Calicut University has made a huge academic stride by introducing choice-based credit and semester system for its undergraduate courses. The academic reform introduced this year has made the university a leader in the State.