On July 4, a peer team from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) of the University Grants Commission (UGC) began a two-day re-accreditation tour of the Mar Ivanios College here. This is the second re-accreditation exercise for the college.

In stark contrast, the University of Kerala, to which the college is affiliated, has completed more than three years without a re-accreditation from the NAAC. The university was first accredited for a five-year period which ended on March 20, 2008.

The prime reason given by the university's top brass for the delay in the re-accreditation is that the departments do not have enough number of teachers. If the university had gone ahead with the kind of teacher-strength it had three years ago, it would have been next to impossible to get a decent rating, so goes the logic of the university. “There were more than 90 vacancies in the university. Some of these have been filled recently by the Vice-Chancellor,” a top official explained.

According to this official, who was associated with the re-accreditation work in the university, the Vice-Chancellor even found it difficult to obtain time-bound information pertaining to the vacancies in departments. This, coupled with the fact that the university does not have a syndicate now, considerably slowed down the filling up of the vacancies, the official explained.

However, the fact remains that till 2010, the university had blamed the erratic functioning of the Internal Quality Assessment Cell (IQAC-a body mandated by the NAAC) as the main reason for the delay in asking for re-accreditation from NAAC. The retirement of teachers and the consequent generation of vacancies are no overnight phenomena. Not many in the university itself buy the argument that the university suddenly woke up to find itself dozens of lecturers short. Given the way former Syndicates have behaved, there is no saying that a new syndicate would quietly accept the appointments made by the Vice-Chancellor.

It is true that the bureaucratic inertia of Kerala's ‘mother university' was also evident from the way its IQAC functioned since its inception in 2006. The preparation of annual quality assurance reports turned out to be a nightmare for the academics concerned. There was and is no mechanism in the university to compel recalcitrant departments to part with information vital for preparing these reports. No academic is yet to be taken to task for holding up the re-accreditation process.

The State government too seems to be indifferent to the lethargy of the oldest university in the State. There is no evidence that the previous LDF government pressurised the university to speed up the re-accreditation work. The present government, caught up as it is in the self-financing imbroglio, seems totally unaware of the re-accreditation mess in the University of Kerala.