THRISSUR: While Kerala University made the historic achievement of bagging A++ in NAAC accreditation recently, Kerala Agriculture University, headquartered at Mannuthy, has been in the shadow of under-performance for years. The university at present doesn’t have the Indian Council for Agricultural Research accreditation for its six departments while in the national-level ranking, KAU has dropped to 28th position.
A group of employees have started organising protest meetings against Vice-Chancellor R Chandra Babu alleging that he is responsible for the maladministration and poor performance. As per the data accessed by TNIE, in the ICAR ranking published in 2019, KAU was ranked 19 while it fell to 28th position in 2020. Last year, due to a delay in filing the documents for accreditation, the university was not included in ranking, but was later reinstated in 28th rank. Since the accreditation for departments was not sanctioned, the total grant for the university has also come down. In 2017-18, the university received a grant of `8 crore while in 2020-21, it got only a meagre `1.36 crore.
A report published by Comptroller and Auditor General of India had pointed out that in 2014-2018, over a third of KAU’s faculty members had not authored or coauthored any research papers.“An executive committee should have been formed in the university to help its administration in the right manner. However, for some reasons, the VC had not taken any step to form the committee. If there was an executive committee to look into the matters like accreditation, this situation wouldn’t have come,” said Kerala Agriculture University Samrakshana Samithi chairman P K Sureshkumar.
Meanwhile, Vice-chancellor Chandra Babu urged the protestors not to insult the university in the public domain. He noted that technical issues had led to the delay in forming the executive committee and appointing people to four vacant general council posts. Chandra Babu said he had made his best efforts to upgrade the academics in the university through collaboration with foreign universities.
“It was during my tenure that the faculty members and students of KAU managed to pursue studies abroad in collaboration with Western universities. As a part of collaboration with Cornell University, team of faculty members and students visited other countries for research. In the latest achievement, a PhD scholar was awarded dual degree candidature. It is rare for a PhD scholar to get this recognition though it is common for graduates,” he said.
On the criticism regarding accreditation, he said the teacher-student ratio was the lowest when he joined the university and this had led to the low ranking. He pointed out that when he took charge, the existing faculty members were overworked and didn’t get time for research papers. “After I assumed office, 250 faculty members were appointed in the university. The teacher-student ratio had gone up. However, 100 of the faculty members have retired now, which will affect the ranking again,” he said.
He added that under his leadership, training programmes were conducted for faculty members to pursue research and publish papers in international journals. “It will take at least four or five years to fetch results for the changes that I have brought in, especially in research work,” he said, adding that the university’s ICAR ranking would get better by then. Chandra Babu assumed office as the VC in December 2017 and the appointment was for four years.
As per the data accessed by TNIE, in the ICAR ranking published in 2019, KAU was ranked 19 while it fell to 28th position in 2020. Last year, due to a delay in filing the documents for accreditation, the university was not included in ranking, but was later reinstated in 28th rank.