Punjab’s premier technical university found itself in a piquant situation with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) awarding it a B grade in its first-ever inspection for the assessment of ‘status of quality’ even though several colleges affiliated with it have been awarded A+ or A grade. To put things into perspective, A+ is equivalent to NAAC rank 2 in the eight-tier NAAC rankings in which IK Gujral Punjab Technical University (IKGPTU) is ranked 6.
The NAAC, an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC), evaluates and accredits institutions of higher learning. The highest grade given is A++, followed by A+, A, B++, B+, B, C and D.
The NAAC found the 25-year-old state university lags behind in “research, innovation, and outreach.” The PTU, as it is popularly known, has asked for a review.
PTU, established in 1997, which has more than 280 colleges affiliated to it, only started classes on its campus in 2015. It currently has 1,000 students enrolled in 16 undergraduate, 17 postgraduate programs , 16 doctoral and three master’s programs. From this academic session, it has increased the number of places for students to 1450 from the existing 1100.
A six-member team from NAAC led by Dr. Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the National Open University Indira Gandhi visited PTU from June 28 to June 30 and after analyzing the university on various criteria from 2017 to this day, awarded him an overall classification. of “class B”.
According to the NAAC, “research and innovation” is a major weakness of the university. As such, the university scored 20 (out of a maximum of 27) in promoting research and facilities, 30 (out of 75) in the innovation ecosystem; 100 (out of 235) in research publications and awards; 40 (out of 54) in extension activities; 20 (out of 40) in collaborations. It scored 30 out of 55 in infrastructure, 55 out of 55 in campus maintenance, and 35 out of 55 in physical facilities.
Other areas NAAC wants PTU to work on include filling faculty vacancies, emphasis on collaboration with industry, practice-oriented courses, including assignments with exposure to the industry, placement and introduction of more multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary courses.
The NAAC recommended overcoming all these shortcomings by building faculty and staff capacity for technology interventions, encouraging externally funded research projects and publication of research papers, promoting SWYAM courses, by strengthening computer laboratory facilities, by installing waste management systems such as the use of biogas in homes, international collaboration initiatives, enrichment of programs to improve employability by taking into account feedback from the industry ; the integration of the academic activities of the satellite campuses with the headquarters, the launch of value-added courses, certificates and diplomas in different disciplines, and multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and competency-based programs under the new policy of Education (NEP) 2020 by introducing online programs.
While appreciating the PTU for its “state-of-the-art infrastructure, including administrative, academic and other buildings designed and constructed with the latest technology and e-governance areas,” the NAAC team alerted it to the challenges posed by other private and public sectors. owned establishments.
A senior PTU professor has lamented that the university cannot even maintain the benchmark set by its affiliated colleges. The professor, however, blamed successive governments for ignoring the PTU due to the fact that past vice-chancellors never sought NAAC inspection.
“Of more than 218 sanctioned positions, 136 are vacant. How to undertake research,” the professor asked, adding that the university has yet to secure a permanent VC after Dr. Ajay Sharma’s tenure ended in August 2021. Principal Secretary (Technical Education) Rahul Bhandari occupies currently serving as the university’s interim VC.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhandari said he took over the charge two months ago and insisted on the assessment of the NAAC so that the weaknesses and strengths of the PTU can be assessed. “I have already started the process of appointing the Registrar and Controller of Examinations, and vacancies for Assistant and Associate Professors will also be filled soon. A permanent VC will also be appointed. We are also increasing the number of students,” Bhandari said, adding that a new curriculum has also been introduced.
He said he wrote to the NAAC team for a review of the inspection because they were “missing some data.” He said PTU is already on the road to improvement after introducing several new courses such as Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Studies, Indian Constitution, Values Education, introduction to women’s and gender studies, mentoring and professional development, human and professional values. Ethics etc.