BY PRSANNA BARVE
Last year Goa University’s NAAC grade was B++, and now, for the second consecutive year, Goa University (GU) failed to make it to the list of the top 100 universities of India as per rankings of NIRF.
Goa's lone and state-run university's best rank at NIRF was 68 in 2018. It was ranked 93rd in 2019 and 96 in 2020. GU, which had slipped from the top 100 in 2021 to the 101-150 band in 2022, remains there in 2023 too, according to the Union Education Ministry's National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), 2023.
NIT Goa has been in the 100 best technology institutes of India at NIRF for the fifth year in a row. NIT Goa was ranked 88th in 2O22. The state-run Goa College of Pharmacy, Panjim, made it to the 100 top-ranked pharmacy institutes in the country at rank 66, though down from its previous rank of 55.
Goa Institute of Management (GIM), Sanquelim, was the only Goa-based institute to improve its rank to 33 from last year’s 36, and the lone one in Goa to feature in the top 50 in the B-school category.
WHY GU RANK GOING DOWN?
Why are Goan colleges ranked higher than Goa University? Does the answer “lie” with the various faculty members, or does it rest with the administration? That is the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, everybody’s concern does have an answer, which is gripped by excruciating labour pain, without the ability to deliver it.
The vice chancellor has often on public forums blamed new faculty recruited at Goa University for lower grades. As he has said, most of the new faculty (all from Goa) do not have a PhD and the grade awarded was low.
But looking at the Self Study Report and NAAC evaluation report (both available on the GU website) it is seen that the PhD degrees of faculty are only a sub-point in the criteria. There are many other factors where GU administration has faired poorly. The GU administration is trying to blame new faculty, and some members of the administration are trying hard to push for the removal of the domicile rule.
Having non-PhD faculty in many of the disciplines, is also a failure on the part of GU administration, particularly due to the non-availability of guides at the university. Non-sanctioning of study leave, which is necessary to conduct PhD related work, is another factor.
Several applications for study leave were rejected multiple times by the current administration to its young faculty members. Many of these files of requests are not returned to the faculty members, depriving them of being able to read the comments written on green sheets, while only a note of rejection is issued.
These delays in sanctioning study leave thus hamper their motivation to do research. On the contrary, sabbatical leave to senior faculty members, who are key members of the current administration, is easily sanctioned without delay.
Overburdening young faculty members with non-teaching, administrative and non-research-related work is another big reason that hinders their productivity.
GU administration still functions with loads of paperwork and file processing delays for any task. This is probably done so that files can be scrapped easily while electronic documents remain.
The VC himself discourages his faculty and staff members from writing complaints via email. Will it be correct to say that often there are intentional delays in approvals due to the same, and many-a-times the files of important matters are not returned? This is a way to hide the comments in the files, which defeats the purpose of a democratic and transparent process.
GU, as the highest educational institution in the state, should have modelled e-governance for all other government bodies. But deliberate attempts to avoid e-governance are evident.
Even the GUMS portal, which is the only e-governance platform GU procured at great expense, is full of flaws and does not even allow faculty or student grievances to be submitted online, which is against the NAAC guidelines.
NAAC awards points for the implementation of e-governance in four aspects, which include administration, finance and accounts, student management, and examination.
SEED MONEY GRANT
GU only has partial facilities for examination and student management and has severely failed here to obtain student support due to its own lack of administrative vision and planning.
The fundamental criteria for research is the funding that is provided to conduct it. While NAAC guidelines clearly state that financial seed money grants are to be provided to all the faculty to support research, the GU administration has failed completely at this as they did not even have a seed grant policy for 2015-2018.
PASSING THE BUCK
In these crucial years, GU scored zero points in this criteria as they did not provide any seed money grant to support research! This had an extremely negative impact on the overall research outcome of the NAAC cycle.
Instead of accepting the responsibility for failure, the GU administration passed the buck to the newly appointed faculty, citing their lack of expertise and doctorates, although the majority were recruited in 2020 ie at nearly the end of the NAAC cycle.
Is shifting the blame onto the young faculty on all public forums (college gatherings, news interviews, public speeches by GU administrative authorities) a deliberate attempt to misguide the government into thinking that young Goans are not good enough and that GU needs people from outside to get a good grade?
Is this a malicious attempt to remove the domicile criteria? This is the question to be dealt with by Education Minister Dr Pramod Sawant.
Several young, highly performing faculty members are being sidelined and denied opportunities to contribute to the growth of GU. Most high-performing faculty have either left GU or have been terminated from services as they raise questions over GU’s bad administrative policies, which will destroy GU in the long run!
Goan faculty are victimised and terminated without giving any valid reason. The only Goan faculty that survive are those who sing “Mile sur mera tumhara”.
Recently, Goa University contract staff were removed after 10 years of service. They claimed this was about some organised "groupism" at Goa University.
How can education and research flourish with such a mindset? Attributing GU’s faults to faulty members is most unhelpful. This degradation of Goa University is serious. Dr Pramod Sawant must investigate every point that has brought down GU’s ranking. Don’t entertain the “blame it on Goans” game, clearly aimed at removing the domicile clause.