Dr Nazir Ahmad Gilkar
In this write-up the concept of capacity utilization is discussed in the context of an academic organization. It refers to the utilization of potential/actual capacities by an institution during its pedagogical process. It is the relationship between the output produced on the basis of a certaininput. The output in terms of quality human resourceis producedonce capacities are optimally utilized.
Capacity utilization may also refer to matrix used to compute the rate at which the competent citizenry is churned out with available resources. The rate is exhibited as a percentage and provides an insight into the total utilization of resources. The capacity utilization rate is also known as operating rate.This is an important indicator for a HEI because it can be used to assess operating efficiency and provides an insight into cost structure. It can be used to determine the level at which cost per student goes up or down. Although attaining a centpercent capacity rate is almostimpossible, there are ways and means by adopting which HEIs can increase their current utilization rate.
In this backdrop it is pertinent to state that building up capacities has little value unless these are optimally utilised. NAAC Criterion 4 pertains to infrastructure and learning resources. Keeping in view its vital position it should be criterion 2 after Governance, Leadership and Management as proposed in our earlier write-up in GK dated 19 July, 2021.
This criterion carries 100 points or 10% of total weightage. It is spread over four key indicators dealing with physical facilities (30 points), library as a learning resource (20 points), IT Infrastructure (30 points) and maintenance of infrastructure (20 points).There are six qualitative metrics reflecting adequate facilities for curricular and co-curricular activities with due support of ICT. Furthermore, there are 10 quantitative metrics relating to ICT blended class rooms, capex budget allocation, e-resources, usage of library by stake holders, e-content development, maintenanceexpenditure and academic support facilities. All these are expressed in relative terms.The assessment is based on 5 point Likert scale 0-4.
This criterion emphasises upon leveraging digital and conventional capacities. This is also envisaged in NEP 2020. Covid 19 pandemic forced to search for an alternative to conventional teaching-learning process and make a shift to digital platform. The digital capacity created in the institutions has made it possible to continue the teaching-learning process in current pandemic situation. A variety of webinars and virtual workshops have been conducted. Faculty and a section of students have been benefitted by attending such academic events online.
During online classes it has been observed that a gap exists between those students who have access to the internet and reliable devices and those who don’t. This digital divide is an issue that affects students in particular from different strata of society. Two main characteristics explain this gap: access to high-speed internet and access to reliable devices. During past two years it is seen that many students have been struggling because of digital divide. In some geographical locations three dimensional problems are faced by students on account of internet accessibility, availability and affordability. There are cases where students could not buy costly devices like laptops or smart phones and soft wear. To overcome the issue of digital divide it is essential in an egalitarian society to provide equal learning opportunities, wider career opportunities and access to resources made available by the community at large.Thus efforts must be made by social and government organisations to minimise this gap to make online teaching-learning accessible to all.
A variety of academic audit observations/questions with regard to this criterion are being raised. How many smart classroomshave been installed in the institution?Number of faculty members that use interactive boards per semester and share the screen online with students during virtual classroom.Ascertain gaps in infrastructure and learning resources. Steps initiated to bridge these gaps. Have core stake holdersbeen sensitised/enabled to develop the academic bank of credits by sharing resources mutually between HEIs? Stepsinitiated in this regard.Are our institutions prepared for programme wise accreditation based on adequate infrastructure available? What measures have been taken by the institutions to minimise digital divide?
A number of college principals- past and present- are registered with NAAC as assessors. They visit different institutions outside J&K in connection with assessment and accreditation of institutions. The HED may constitute a panel of academic auditors with an objective to be engaged in periodic academic audit of different institutions in J&K. This process will activate institutions and their level of activity/efficiency is expected to move up. Among other criteria the capacity utilization is expected to reflect an upward trend leading to optimal utilization.
Before uploading Self Study Report the institutions must ensure the achievement of target score in terms of quantitative as well as qualitative metrics. If an institution is interested to obtain a score between 3.01 to 3.50, e. g; should have score earned on account of quantitative metrics to the tone of 2.45 and above and on account of qualitative metrics 1.05 and above. Local assessors and academic auditors will guide our institutions in this regard. It is pertinent to note that mock accreditation exercise should be conducted before uploading SSR.
It is on record that number of students or faculty visiting institutional / public libraries is decreasing day by day. They are not exhibiting much interest in reading books and other study material available in the libraries. Physical and open resources have become shelf items and a part of unmoved inventory for years together. A good amount of money is invested in purchaseof books/journals and e-resources andtheir maintenanceevery year. This treasure of wisdom isunderutilized, to say the least. In this way the huge cost incurred on creating this capacity does not yield the desired results. Therefore, efforts need to be made to inculcate study habits among students.
Campus development and maintenance should be a regular exercise. This should be a process and not an event. There should be funds earmarked in the annual budget for maintenance of infrastructure. It should not be an activity to be carried out at the time of peer team visit for accreditation.
To conclude, underutilization of capacitiesis an impediment leading to low academic productivity and lower institutional efficiency.It may result in low level of employability of pass outs that creates slack in the economy as requisite workforce is not made available. Conversely, excess capacity created in an institution results in wastage of public investment. The HEIs should therefore optimize their capacity utilization.
This write-up is dedicated to the academic leaders who have contributed towards building capacities of our HEIs.