Absence of zoology, botany and microbiology departments at the University of Mumbai (MU) might affect the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation of the 162-year-old university, the process for which is already in its final stage, sources said.
The university was last granted Grade ‘A’ by the NAAC in 2012, which was valid till March 31, 2017. The score, however, had expired on April 20, 2017, as the university failed to re-apply for accreditation in time.
According to sources, while postgraduate degrees in the three subjects are offered by some colleges affiliated to the MU, the university itself does not have separate departments for them and this, they claim, could prove to be a hurdle for NAAC accreditation as the number of departments opened since the last certification is taken into account in the fresh round.
Pro-vice chancellor professor Ravindra Kulkarni, however, said the absence of these departments would not affect the accreditation process. He pointed out that MSc in zoology (oceanography) was offered by Sindhu Swadhyaya Sanstha – a department of the MU formed in 2014 to offer integrated aquatic education.
“Zoology and botany courses are available in regular colleges, so its departments may not have been founded here. The issue is over 50 years old, which is why the reason (for the absence of departments in the three subjects) is not known to us. However, there is no point in opening these departments now. There are limited takers for such courses as well as job opportunities,” Kulkarni said.
Politics on campus, sources said, had led to the establishment of only life sciences department at the MU.
The department offers only MSc degree in life sciences, a subject different from pure sciences, such as botany, zoology and microbiology.
Highlighting that the process of NAAC accreditation was in its final stage, Kulkarni added, “For the fresh accreditation, proofs of self-study reports, which requires data for five years, will be uploaded on the university’s website within two weeks and the links will be shared with the NAAC. The university should acquire the accreditation within two or three months.”
The MU was founded in 1857 only for conducting exams and conferring degrees. Teaching began later on the university’s Fort campus. Teaching and research were introduced much later after the Kalina campus opened.
All the existing subjects were started as postgraduate and research departments, apart from zoology, botany and microbiology. “Life sciences department was introduced in the academic year of 1977-78 in a few constituent colleges for first-year students of BSc. However, the department for life sciences was opened in the university too,” a source said.
Interestingly, while newer departments for subjects, like biotechnology and biophysics, were opened sans any grant from the government, zoology, botany and microbiology departments are yet to see the light of the day despite getting funds from the university. In fact, students enrolled for MSc in zoology under Sindhu Swadhyaya Sanstha — course was started earlier this year — will notionally be the first batch of students to study the subject on the university campus.