The Four Year Undergraduate Programme in Delhi University Set to Go
Why it must be Rolled Back
By : Himadrish Suwan
The University Grants Commission (UGC) ordered Delhi University (DU) and its colleges to abandon the controversial four-year undergraduate programme with immediate effect and make all new admissions in consonance with the three year UG programme.
The higher education regulator has threatened action under the UGC Act if Delhi University (DU) and its 64 constituent colleges defy its order. FYUP was clearly a dream project of the United Progressive Alliance. It has been formulated in such a way that it will be in sync with the American system of education so that American universities can come and set shops in India.
The former minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal had made annoucements about improving the Indian higher education system jointly with the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton at the first ever Indo-US Education Summit held at Washington DC in October 2011. The current Vice Chancellor of the Delhi University Dinesh Singh is UPA’s blue-eyed boy and Kapil Sibal’s protege.
Here are some very relevant criticisms of the FYUP program:-
- Many believe that the new Foundation Courses are problematic. They opine that Students taking these courses will learn a set of facts that will be outdated nearly as soon as they leave the classroom. But more importantly, they will lack that deepest promise of a liberal education: the ability to seek and assess knowledge independently because they have been given the conceptual tools to do so. Also the foundation courses are very basic and will offer no relevant jobs in the Indian Market.
- Many also see it as an introduction of caste system in education, essentially because a student who drops out after two years can never compete with the one with an honors degree which puts the students from oppressed sections with a disadvantage, coz almost 30% of students in DU drop out every year. And out of the 30% majority belong to socially and economically vulnerable sections.
- Some also see that doing a year extra to attain an honors degree in DU will put the students on backfoot as other university students will get it within 3 years.
- All with four years education, the education becomes more expensive, thereby pushing it further away from the underprivileged sections.
- The FYUP just offers exit points but does not actually take note of the reasons to students drop out. Rather than offering exit points, DU should have made education more accessible to the vulnerable sections. For instance by offering more scholarships and subsidized education.
- The FYUP will also lead to erosion of learning and teaching. Under the previous three year programme, all students had to write three assignments and one project per paper, allowing them to develop greater analytical and research skills. In the new FYUP, students will not be required to submit even one written assignment; instead, they will have one group class presentation per course. In such a situation, how is any student going to be able to develop abilities in analysis or research. Also the total number of teaching weeks has been reduced from 16 to 14. Where in the old system, per unit there would be 2 classes a week as well as tutorials, in the new scheme there will be only 1 class per unit per week.
The dropout rate of DU is almost thirty per cent, which is an alarming figure and hence steps need to be taken to address it. However, the option of dropping out after the second and the third year is not very beneficial. It is but obvious that an Honors degree holder would get preferred over a dropout; hence the actual advantage that this system affords is highly debatable.
There can be no doubt about the urgency of reforms that DU needs, and in a country where delay is inherent and ubiquitous, the speed with which this new system has been developed appears to be a novelty. However, the consequences of any such changes are so far-reaching and influential that a thorough and informed inquiry becomes the most important step towards this much needed change. The need for equipping DU with international standards is absolute, both to increase the employ-ability of its students and to attract international students; and to achieve these immediate reforms are essential but this new system is just the substitution of one incomplete system with another. Nonetheless, it is a brave attempt to make education more relevant and effective and one hopes that though the chances are slim, the system achieves all that it promises.
UGC has also issued a public notice reaching out particularly to students and parents stating that DU and its colleges will not be admitting students for a four year programme and that all admissions will be to the three-year undergraduate programmes. I welcome this decision, Thanks to UGC .