Published: June 11, 2013 - 18:07

From being called anti-democratic, anti-people and a bad copy of the American model, the Four Year Graduation Programme has generated lot of controversy

Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi 

Divyanshi stood puzzled, listening to what the researcher was explaining to her, occasionally getting lost in random thoughts. She had recently cleared her 12th standard examination through Central Board of School Education (CBSE), and was now planning to join Delhi University for Bachelors in Commerce (Hons). But the new amendment in the university course, which insists on four-year under graduation programme (FYUP) rather than three, had created dilemmas in her head. She along with her other two friends, Abha and Renie, who also cleared their exams, had come to the campus seeking answers to their queries. 

While the politicians of the state have found it “potentially very positive”, the programme, which offers “flexibility” and “options” for students, has met with considerable criticism from academia and intellectuals, calling it “the biggest casualty of our times”. The topper from Jharkhand was also reported to have changed her mind of studying in DU after the FYUP proposal. 

Under FYUP, the students taking admission in Delhi University will enter a four-year honours degree. If they wish, they can leave at the end of two years with a Diploma or at the end of the three years with a Bachelors Degree (without honours). On the completion of four years, they will have a Bachelors Degree with honours. 

Further breakdown reveals that those students who obtain a two-year Diploma will study only 8 papers from their main discipline. The remaining 20 courses will be compulsory, basic foundation courses. These foundation courses include courses in science, mathematics, history, etc. All students, irrespective of the stream they come from, will have to study foundation courses over the first two years. 

Three years Bachelors Degree will have 14 main core courses and 28 non-core courses, while students of other universities will get a their bachelors with honours. Four year Bachelors Degree with honours will have 20 core courses out of 50 courses, while as earlier three year programme had 75 per cent core courses. 

“The aim of higher education is to make students understand the depth of the subject as well as to equip him/her with a degree to get a job. But the new course programme is focused on privatizing education. This is the biggest casualty,” said Tripta Wahi, retired professor, Hindu College. She said it was important to prepare the students intellectually, which can be done by rigorous academic pursuit. She also noted that the new course will undermine the lower strata of the society and called it as “anti- democratic, anti-people and anti-education programme.” 

Dr. Sanjay Kumar, St. Stephen's College slammed the concept of foundation courses. “What are these so-called foundation courses for? Students already have knowledge of basic things. They have learnt them in school. Why is university using authoritarian practices to enforce decision on 54,000 young students?” he asked. 

Calling FYUP a tool to make “brilliant minds dull”, Prof Rama Sinha of Sri Venkateswara College said it is a “robotic programme to force students not to think originally.” 

“There is a serious change in the fundamental structure of education which will have gross implications on the students,” said Prerna, Researcher, Deptt of Philosophy, DU. “People who have their M Phil and PhD’s are without jobs, how can you expect a two-year Diploma holder to get a good job? There is high competition in the market. The programme has no logical reasoning,” she added. 

Saurav, who is currently studying in DU said it is difficult for the university to enforce the programme. “With depleted infrastructure and 50% teachers as guest faculty, the authorities are complicating things. The degree simply means more money, more time and less knowledge with less chances of employment,” he said. 

The four-year undergraduate programme got its final stamp of approval on May 9, 2013 from the highest executive body in the Delhi University. Twenty-one members of the executive council met to discuss the changes in the syllabi, course structure, admission process, evaluation process and promotion criteria that were approved the night before by the Academic Council. In a statement issued by the University, it was said that AC had passed the courses with six dissents (with 86 members voting in favour of FYUP) and the EC with two (19 for FYUP). In addition, the terms like 'associate baccalaureate', 'baccalaureate' and 'baccalaureate with honours', were replaced by diploma, bachelor and bachelor with honours/BTech, respectively. 

Some people who argued in the favour of the programme saying it is a “great opportunity for students who want to study abroad” faced strong opinions by those arguing against. Sandeep, who is the president of All India Students Association (AISA), called FYUP a “bad copy of American model.” 

“It is an erosion of teaching-learning process. Under FYUP, students are not required to submit written assignments. Instead they will have one group class presentation per course. How are they going to develop abilities in to analyze?” asked Sandeep. He also pointed out the fact that total number of teaching weeks will be reduced from 16 to 14. 

Prof. Aditya Nigam, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) said it is a “grave situation”. “This degree benefits a small section of the society. No one has a clue what is going on. They are playing with the future of students. A disaster is going to happen,” he warned. 

As a part of the solution, the academicians said that students need to challenge the diktat and question the higher authorities to save university from commercializing the education system. “Nothing comes free of cost. We have to fight for everything. Even preserving the achieved rights needs continuous fight,” said Prof Chaman Lal, JNU. 

Recently, a public hearing was held at North Campus of Delhi University on May 30, 2013. Organized by Left and Democratic Teacher’s Forum (LDTF) and All India Students Association (AISA), the meeting was attended by students, their parents, academicians, scholars and university teachers to debate the genesis of the programme and its implications on the future of the students. The hearing was also joined and supported by students of JNU who shouted slogans for rejection of FYUP. Students also registered their protest by making posters. The posters mocked FYUP for its “inefficiency” and slammed the authorities for the breakdown of the university. The students had used elephant, the emblem of DU as the metaphoric representation of the university. 

As the debate continues, Divyanshi and her friends are still nervous about the programme. “I hope things become clear to us. I am so worried,” Divyanshi said, as she left with her friends.

From being called anti-democratic, anti-people and a bad copy of the American model, the Four Year Graduation Programme has generated lot of controversy
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi 

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