FROM THE VICE-CHANCELLOR’s DESK
It is with great pleasure that we are releasing the Annual Report 2014-15 that summarizes the progress of the university during the year. Given below are some highlights of the year.
When the academic year 2014-15 started we added two new teaching programmes, both at Master's level, one in Biochemistry with an intake of 20 and the other in Library and Information Studies with an intake of 15. The total intake in our programmes on the main campus of the university thus stood at 945, marking an increase of over 70% from the intake three years ago. We believe that this increase was necessary to justify our status as the only university of the state and hence need to provide adequate facility of post-graduate education in the fields covered on this campus. Following this increase we now need to embark upon a process of consolidation to sustain quality in the programmes. I will return to this topic shortly.
An important event for the university’s central campus during the year was the exercise for accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). During July 7-11, 2014, a 8-member Peer Team of academics drawn from Indian universities visited the university and held consultations with a cross section of all those associated with the university, including Principals of affiliated colleges, member of the Executive Council of the university, students, faculty, administrators and the Chief Minister of the State. The decision of the Council based on the inputs received from the Peer Team was announced on 24 September 2014. Goa University received the grade 'A'. This grade, the highest amongst the grades that the accreditation body awards, is an improvement over the grade B that was awarded to us in 2009. The new grade comes as a morale booster to our students and faculty across the state. We expect the immediate beneficiaries of the new rating to be our new and recent graduates who are seeking employment. Their degrees are now linked to a university that is recognized amongst the most respected of the 600+ universities of the country. The new grade is valid for the next 5 years till the year 2019.
Goa University is keenly aware of the responsibilities that this recognition brings. We now have on hand the task to stabilize and consolidate the systems that were put in place during the last few years to enhance quality and governance across the university.
During the academic year 2013-14 the university launched its Visiting Research Professorship Programme with 6 professorships named after 6 illustrious sons of Goa with funding from the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Goa. Under this programme headed by its Honourary Director Dr. Maria Couto the university invites scholars to lecture or to conduct any creative activity that adds to our standing as a place for innovation and education. The programme is open to both enrolled students and others interested in the activity proposed by a visiting professor. Under the programme during the last year we saw formation of a University Choir, creation and installation of a sculpture on our campus, a debate on mining that brought together all points of view on one forum, in addition to lectures on history, art history, literature, economics, music and environment. These activities have brought visibility and good will to the university. In the last few months we enlarged the scope of these professorships to have distinguished persons to teach regular courses on our campus. Well known Konkani writer Adv. Uday Bhembre now teaches in the Department of Konkani as Bakibab Borkar Chair Professor. Distinguished Marathi literary figure, Prof. Bhalchandra Nemade, was appointed in the Department of Marathi as Sant Sohirobanath Ambiye Chair Professor.
In the last one year the university saw its first autonomous college come into being. Shrimati Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science, Madgao, one of the two colleges that launched the modern higher education system in the state in 1962, became a college that now enjoys full academic autonomy to prepare students as graduates of Goa University. The freedom that this recognition brings to the college is essential to take our education system to its next level of performance. I wish the college all the best in the years ahead and sincerely hope that the college will become a model for others to emulate.
The university also took its first concrete steps and signed an agreement to launch a fully computerized university management system that we believe will enhance the quality of our governance considerably.
The university last year put in place an ordinance for setting up of community colleges. This is an important development and a part of the national movement that aims at enhancing skills available with our country's manpower, particularly its youth. We look forward to use of this ordinance both on our campus, in our affiliated colleges, and in institutions of learning across the state that can impart skills to enhance employability and career growth.
Let me now step a little beyond this immediate task and take a look at the future. The social and political system in this beautiful and small state with a unique history needs to arrive at a consensus on an action plan to sustain long-term health of the university. The consensus has to be arrived at through public discussion and with full awareness that health of the university will almost certainly play the most important factor on the competence of our future generations to stand on their own in employment market and to make a mark in the world as productive citizens. This, in turn, will define the character of the state. Let me share with you some thoughts and concerns regarding future of the university in three domains: faculty, infrastructure, and resources.
The core competence of any university is determined by quality of its faculty. Therefore, whether or not the university will be able to sustain improvement in its quality of education will depend critically on our practices for choosing teachers and researchers. During the last one year we found that getting good faculty is by no means an easy task. The country is today facing an acute shortage of manpower with excellence in teaching and research, particularly at senior positions. There is also a complicated and not explicitly stated maze of administrative regulations, court orders and traditions that need to be complied with for appointments. We became painfully aware of the maze during the faculty recruitment exercise conducted last year, the first such exercise after a gap of a number of years. It was a learning experience that should come handy in such exercises in future. We need to put in place a better defined system for building faculty. We also need to look at ways and means by which qualified people who cannot be on our rolls as permanent employees can teach at the university for the benefit of our students. We need to explore all such possibilities to ensure that our students have access to the best faculty possible under the realities of today.
My second concern revolves around building of infrastructure that is required to upgrade our education system by bringing in new programmes. For our youth to remain competitive in national and global arena we need a mechanism that grabs opportunities as they evolve in the fast changing environment of the 21st century. This means being able to open new programmes, reorganize others, put in place faculty to teach them, and create laboratories and other infrastructure demanded by the programmes. Invariably we need adequate physical infrastructure to sustain such evolution; we need a campus that creates appropriate environment for our youth. Today our campus of well over 400 acres sits amidst one of the most valuable land in the state. As it happens elsewhere in the world, public land is often eyed for both public and private good. The university will be able to withstand the pressures on its land only if it has a well thought out campus development plan. We need to put in place such a master plan.
Third, any rejuvenation of the campus will require resources. We need to arrive at a consensus on how to put these in place. How much of the required resources should come from the state, how much from the private sector, how much from philanthropists and alumni. It is a difficult but manageable task, and certainly not something that will put undue stress on the economy of the state.
There is every reason to believe that each of the three tasks outlined here to ensure a healthy future for the university is implementable. More importantly they are implementable without violating any of the laws of the land and within the resources of our state. What we need is the resolve to make things work. Implementation will require powers that are beyond what the university possesses. Therefore, I suggest that Government of Goa in association with the university set up three task teams of concerned citizens of the state, dedicated to creation of a plan of action on the three tasks I mentioned: faculty, infrastructure and resources. We owe it to our youth. Future generations will be grateful that our generation stood up for them. Let us also be aware that they may not take it kindly if we fail. That is how important higher education is in the 21st century.
During the last couple of years it has been our privilege to discuss the future of the university with a wide cross section of citizens concerned about our higher education system. Many of the systems we were able to put in place arose from such discussions. The three tasks I just outlined and the ways to address them arose out of our discussions with one of the most respected sons of Goa, Padma Vibhushan and Gomant Vibhushan Architect Charles Correa. I am indeed grateful to him for his advice and for his interest in the university.
The 27th Annual Convocation of Goa University was held on 23rd January 2015. Presided over by Honourable Chanceloor of Goa University, Dr. Mrudula Sinha, the Chief Guest on the occasion was Prof. S. Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The convocation marked the conferment of Bachelor's degrees on 7,486 graduates, Master's degrees on 1,292 postgraduates, and the degree of Doctor of Philosophy on 44 doctorates. In addition, there were 171 recipients of postgraduate diplomas. Altogether 8,993 become recognized as graduates, post-graduates, postgraduate diploma holders and doctorates of Goa University. They included recipients of awards, 68 Gold Medals, 55 Prizes and 25 Certificates of Merit that were awarded in recognition of their excellence.
Of the 191 sanctioned faculty positions, 108 were occupied by the end of 2014-15. An important task for us is to fill the remaining positions. We have approached appropriate agencies of Government of Goa to initiate this process. The existing faculty had during the year 30 ongoing research projects. The faculty published 151 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including 83 in journals that carry Impact Factor (IF). The average IF of the 83 publications was 2.167.
On the whole, this has been a good year for the university, particularly with NAAC giving us Grade-A. This progress the university made has been possible because of the all-round support we have received from faculty, staff, students, and the Governement of Goa. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to them all.
Dr. S. R. Shetye
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