Voices of dissent have emerged from within Bangalore University (BU) as the ambitious proposal to introduce four-year undergraduate courses gets set to go on the anvil of the Academic Council this month.
Senior professors say they are wary of the lack of preparedness of adding one more year to the existing three-year UG courses, while there are evident concerns over the fate of three 5-year integrated masters programmes presently offered by the university.
“I think the decision to introduce 4-year courses can be put off by one more year,” said Sharath Ananthamurthy, chairperson, Department of Physics. “Whatever ideas are there to make existing courses more meaningful by adding rigour in curricula to provide holistic education can be accomplished in the 3-year format itself. It needs more debate,” he said.
According to Vice-Chancellor B Thimme Gowda, the 5-year courses will have to become four years. “If a student can enrol for PhD after four years, why will he study five years? So the integrated courses will have to become four years. The fourth year of the UG course will be the first year of a master’s course,” Prof Gowda said.
Except the integrated Biological Sciences course, the Master of Business Studies and Social Studies are facing viability issues for want of students, infrastructure and faculty. “The biological sciences course is doing well and it need not be converted into four years. If students study five years, they will be eligible for lectureship,” said H P Puttaraju, coordinator of the 5-year biological sciences course.
The V-C has maintained that the fourth year would help students specialise in one area, making them more employable. “But universities are not meant to run courses that provide employment. Universities should add value to society and create people with wisdom, instead of running professional courses. We need to ask students how many years they want to study,” said Rajendra Kumar, chairperson, Department of Social Work.
“We must understand that the the four-year UG course will be introduced only in affiliated colleges and not in the university. A student who completes four years will get a honours degree. A student who wants to study only three years will get a regular degree. If one wants to study three years and then do PG, he will study one year masters which in essence will be the fourth year of the UG course. A student who completes the 4-year UG course and wants to do PG will study a fifth year,” the V-C explained. “In the long run, 5-year integrated courses will have to go as they will no longer be relevant. I don’t believe in binding students. Why make them study five years when they can get what they want in four years?”
Prof Gowda said a final draft of the 4-year course structure would be presented in a meeting of deans and chairpersons for more clarity. “This will happen before we take this to the Academic Council.”
What is a 4-year UG Course?
It will allow students to major in one discipline in the fourth year, while they will have minors (for example, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) in the third year. There is an exit option at the end of second and third years, where students will receive certificate and regular degrees respectively. Completion of all four years will get them honours degrees.