The PTU, established in 1997, which has more than 280 colleges affiliated with it, started classes on its campus only in 2015. It currently has 1,000 students enrolled in 16 undergraduate, 17 postgraduate, 16 doctorate and three M.Phil programme.
Punjab’s first technical university has found itself in a piquant situation with National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) awarding it grade B in its first-ever inspection for the assessment of the ‘quality status’ even as several colleges affiliated with it secured A+ or A grade. To put things in perspective, A+ equals rank 2 in the NAAC in the eight-grade NAAC rating in which the IK Gujral Punjab Technical University (IKGPTU) is at rank 6.
The NAAC, an autonomous body under the University Grants Commission (UGC), assesses and accredits institutes of higher education. The highest grade it awards is A++ followed by A+, A, B++, B+, B, C, and D.
The NAAC has found the 25-year-old state-run university lagging in “research, innovations, and extension”. The PTU, as it is popularly known, has applied for a review.
The PTU, established in 1997, which has more than 280 colleges affiliated with it, started classes on its campus only in 2015. It currently has 1,000 students enrolled in 16 undergraduate, 17 postgraduate, 16 doctorate and three M.Phil programme. Beginning this academic session, it has increased the seats for students to 1450 from the existing 1,100.
A six-member NAAC team led by Dr Nageshwar Rao, Vice-Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University, visited the PTU from June 28 to June 30 and after analysing the university on various criteria from 2017 to till date, awarded it an overall ranking of ‘grade B’.
According to NAAC, ‘research and innovation’ is a major weak point of the university. Under this head, the university scored 20 (out of maximum 27) in promotion of 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 secured 30 out of 55 in infrastructure , 55 out of 55 in maintaining campus, and 35 out of 55 in physical facilities.
The other points on which NAAC wants the PTU to work on included filling of vacant faculty positions, focus on industry collaboration, practical oriented courses including assignments with industry exposure, placement, and introduction of more multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary courses.
The NAAC recommended overcoming all these weak points by capacity building of faculty and staff for technological interventions, encouragement for externally funded research projects and publication of research papers, promoting SWYAM courses, strengthening computer lab facilities, installing waste management systems like using bio-gas in hostels, international collaboration initiatives, enrichment of curricula for enhancing employability by taking feedback from industry; integration of academic activities of the satellite campuses with the headquarters, launching value-added, certificate and diploma courses in different disciplines, and multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and skill-based programmes under New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 by introducing online programmes.
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 of the challenges from other private and other state-owned institutions.
A senior professor at the PTU rued that university could not even maintain the benchmark set up by the colleges affiliated with it. The professor, however, blamed the successive governments for ignoring the PTU due to which vice-chancellors in the past never applied for NAAC inspection.
“Of more than 218 sanctioned posts, 136 are vacant. How can research work be undertaken,” the professor asked, adding that the university was yet to get a permanent V-C after the tenure of Dr Ajay Sharma got over in August 2021. Principal Secretary (technical education) Rahul Bhandari is currently holding the charge as the acting V-C of the university.
Talking to The Indian Express, Bhandari said that he took the charge two months back and insisted on the NAAC assessment so that the PTU’s weaknesses and strengths could be gauged. “I have already started the process for the appointment of registrar and Controller of Examination, and vacant posts of the assistant and associate professors will also be filled soon. A permanent V-C too will be appointed. We are also increasing the intake of students,” Bhandari said, adding that a new curriculum has also been introduced.
He said he has written to the NAAC team for a review of the inspection as they “missed some data”. He said the PTU was already on the path of improvement having introduced several new courses such as Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Studies, Indian Constitution, Value Education, Introduction to Women and Gender Studies, Mentoring & Professional Development, Human Values and Professional Ethics etc.