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Student bodies protest against FYUP outside VC residence | PTI

Questions for DU VC, UGC and HRD on FYUP

|By Narendra Kaushik|

New Delhi: After having exhausted his political, judicial, academic and other options for continuance of FYUP (Four Year Undergraduate Programme), Delhi University (DU) Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh threw in the towel on Friday and told University Grants Commission (UGC) that the university would scrap the FYUP, revert to three year programme and begin admissions from the next week.

The VC gave in after Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani refused to give him audience. Even chief of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) Mohan Bhagwat preferred not to hear him.

Delhi High Court and Supreme Court too refused to intervene in the matter. Moreover, 57 out of 64 DU colleges deserted him when they agreed to abide by a UGC directive to revert to the three-year undergraduate programme.

Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) railed against him and majority of students are still demanding his resignation.

The stalemate between DU and the UGC over introduction of Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) was a consequence of getting it half right. The diagnosis found the disease but nobody was sure of whether, what and how the remedy would work.

When Delhi University Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh revealed how only three out of 1,100 students were found employable by a company during interview for jobs in his university, he was only repeating what Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently narrated in an anecdote in the parliament.

Modi recalled an incident about how a youth when asked whether he knew any skills simply parroted that he was a Bachelor of Arts (BA). This is the bane of India’s education system, introduced by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1883 to produce ‘intrepreters’ and clerks.

Singh rued that the dropout rate in DU’s undergraduate programmes was very high but did not say whether the FYUP by adding an extra year would plug it.

  1. Would his plan to award diploma after two years, pass degree after three years and honours after four years make the students employable?
  2. Would study of 8 core courses in two years, 14 core courses in three years and 20 core courses in four years increase students’ analytical ability?
  3. Would reduction of teaching weeks from 16 to 14 in a year enhance research skills of the students?
  4. It was alright that the FYUP graduates would be allowed to complete post graduation in one year in the DU but what about students who would shift to other universities?
Singh had no answer to these questions and was only insisting that he decided to change the format after deliberating with academia and students. According to him, everybody – Academic Council, student groups and eminent persons – he consulted was for a change.

He did not say whether the academia and the student groups moved beyond discussing demerits of the three year undergraduate programme. If yes, why did the Council and student bodies exhibit a vertical split during the stalemate?

Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA)’s current president Nandita Narain wanted the university to revert to the three year programme while her predecessor Aditya Narayan Mishra was pitching in support of the FYUP. Except an identical word in names, there seemed to be no meeting ground between the two.

The UGC, which jumped up and down to implement the orders of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, needs to answer several questions.

For instance,

  1. why did it keep quiet last year when the DU introduced the FYUP?
  2. Why did it not point out to the DU that the FYUP was a violation of 10+2+3 format prescribed under the National Policy on Education (1986)?
  3. On top of it, why did it allow the DU to admit students under the FYUP in July 2013?
  4. Why did it not talk about the central university’s failure to get Visitor’s approval for an amendment and that without the amendment, the introduction was illegal?

The President of India is a Visitor to all the central universities. The fact is that the UGC backed the FYUP in 2013 and even told the DU VC through its Secretary Akhilesh Gupta that a course’s duration could vary from university to university and discipline to discipline provided it prescribed to the minimum standard of three year duration for the award of the first degree.Since the FYUP proposed to award degree (pass course) after three years, it looked fine. 

Like the UGC, the Congress has been guilty of double speak and practicing silence of convenience on the subject.

It now accuses the BJP of fiddling with the autonomy of institutions but backed the FYUP move in July last year.

The HRD Ministry told Delhi High Court through its Deputy Secretary C R Vatsala Hariharan in response to a PIL that the FYUP was in conformity with UGC’s regulations and the DU, being an autonomous body, was well within its right to take academic decisions with the approval of statutory bodies mentioned under Delhi University Act 1922. It refused to intervene in the matter.

To its credit, the BJP has only been trying to keep its poll promise by attempting to scrap the programme. The party has pandered to populism and done what it was told to do by its youth leaders. But it has not spelt out how and when it would reform the three year programme to make it employable.

All said and done the return to three year programme is going to lead to many complications.

The colleges will have to re-allocate seats, rework teachers’ workload and tinker with their time tables.

Even before that they will have to decide the fate of students who have already done one year under the FYUP.

Awaiting answers…..

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