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FourYear Undergraduate Programme: Education reform or roadblock?

First implemented in 2013, the programme was junked a year later by the Smriti Irani-led Ministry of Human Resource Development after a huge hue and cry and protests.

Published: 28th June 2021 08:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th June 2021 08:51 AM   |  A+A-

First introduced in 2013, the programme was junked after a huge hue and cry and protests

First introduced in 2013, the programme was junked after a huge hue and cry and protests | Express

Express News Service

The controversial FourYear Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), which was scrapped in 2014, is likely to be reintroduced at Delhi University from the 2021-22 academic session, with multiple exits and entry options, as part of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.   

First implemented in 2013, the programme was junked a year later by the Smriti Irani-led Ministry of Human Resource Development after a huge hue and cry and protests.   

Eight years after it had become one of the most controversial education reforms, teachers and students are again expressing their concerns, even though DU’s acting vice-chancellor P C Joshi said the varsity is well prepared to implement the programme this year if the UGC accords its final approval. 

Strongly opposing the FYUP, Nandita Narain, a teacher at St. Stephen’s College and former president of DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA), said: “The university and colleges do not have adequate infrastructure to implement this programme. In the last few years, the OBC extension happened and the EWS was implemented. Both the time, the students’ admissions have increased but the infrastructure in the colleges to accommodate the students has not been ramped up yet. The question is how can you accommodate four batches of students?”  

Waiting for govt’s nod: V-C
According to Joshi, the National Education Policy Implementation Committee (NIC), which was constituted by the varsity last year, has recently submitted its recommendations on the proposed structure of UG programmes. 

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, things have been delayed. Class XII board exams couldn’t take place. But from our end, everything, including the blueprint on how we will implement the programme, what needs to be edited, added and modified etc., is ready. We had constituted a 42-member committee in August last year, and it had members from all departments, colleges, academic council and executive council, who sat together and discussed the programme for four months. As soon as the Centre and the UGC give their nod, we will implement it. We will only have to call our standing committee and academic council for the final discussion and deliberation before implementing it,” said Joshi. 

Pointing out that the proposed programme should not be called as FYUP, the V-C said: “The erstwhile FYUP programme was just a four-year course; there was no lateral exit and rejoining options. While this programme has multiple options of exit and entry and is entirely a different programme with several other options. So, it is not a replica of the FYUP. Under the previous FYUP, students needed to study for four years, but under the new programme, students can get the option of pursuing three-year honours or four-year honours in a discipline or four-year honours in a discipline with research. The students will get multiple exit options like the previously introduced FYUP. For instance, they can exit after one year and get a certificate, after two years, they will get a diploma and after three years, they will be awarded an honours degree.” 

Proposed structure
DU currently offers two kinds of undergraduate programmes honours and programme. As per the revised FYUP, the committee recommends two kinds of programmes, with alterations to structure and nomenclature. All the UG courses will be called be honours. There will be no programme such as BA, BCom and other honours programmes offered by the university. 

While the BA programme will be known as BA (honours) in humanities and social sciences, BCom programme will be called BCom studies (honours). Similarly, the BSc in physical sciences/life sciences/mathematical sciences programme will be referred to as BSc (honours) in the particular field of study.

In addition to the existing courses in the current honours programme, the DU NEP implementation committee has proposed the introduction of new subjects such as language and literature, social and emotional learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, co-curricular, and ethics and culture in the first three years of the courses. Under the previously introduced FYUP, 11 “foundation courses” were made mandatory, including language, literature and creativity, information technology, business, entrepreneurship, and management.

A large section of teachers and students at the university said the proposed four-year programme is similar to the FYUP implemented by then V-C Dinesh Singh. “All these ideas proposed were first expounded by Prof Dinesh Singh. In the previous FYUP, too, the exit options were available, promoted entrepreneurship, each college of DU was given Rs 60 lakh fund for promoting entrepreneurship, the students with a good project and start-up ideas were given Rs 1 lakh to execute their ideas and also provided with research opportunity while pursuing their UG course. Many have emerged as successful entrepreneurs and are working in countries like Singapore and the US. So, the question is why the BJP-led central government had scrapped the programme when it had to bring it back?” said a former DU professor. 

‘Many would lose jobs’
Many experts, however, say that although it’s a good programme, its success depends on how it is implemented. A large section of ad hoc teachers also feel that bringing back the programme will lessen the work of teachers and ultimately end the ad hocism and many ad hoc and guest teachers will lose their job. 

According to Narain, before coming up with such a decision, the university should be written to all colleges, the academic council and stakeholders, and discuss its possibilities rather than planning to implement a cabinet proposal/policy which is not even presented in Parliament. “The varsity and its teachers already had a very poor experience in the past when it was implemented in 2013. A committee has been directly formed by the V-C without even consulting the statutory bodies. These are big decisions that need academic confrontations and democratic consultations,” the St. Stephen’s College professor said.  

Another DU teacher on condition of anonymity said: “As per the recommendations suggested by the panel, the 15 main subjects that students are currently studying will remain the same. While some additional courses have been added. Plus, they are also planning to remove some important papers from the third year and bring them to the fourth year. Why should a student waste an extra year and money?” 

Some teachers are also against the pattern of the credit transfer system introduced under the NEP 2020. Under the FYUP programme, each student will have a “credit bank” (academic repository). Credits will be transferred to this online system after the completion of every year — 48 credits after one year, 100 credits after two years, 148 credits after three years, and 196 after four years. The credit transfer will be allowed between national and international universities.

Also, students can use these credits to rejoin and continue their studies in any university to complete their education. As recommended by the NEP 2020, a certificate will be awarded to the students who would exit at the end of the first year after successfully fulfilling the academic requirements. The diploma will be awarded if the student exits at the end of the second year and students will be permitted to rejoin the programme to pursue a higher qualification.

Pankaj Garg, an associate professor of mathematics at Rajdhani College and a former academic council member, said: “The credit transfer system introduced under this policy will make the student lazy, degree-oriented and not knowledge oriented. It is also promoting online education. Recently, the UGC has come up with a blended mode policy 40 per cent online classes and 60 per cent offline and introduced 80 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on its SWAYAM platform. Students will earn credit online through any university and complete the remaining UG courses. If you see, currently, students have stopped studying online. They copy during online exams to pass. So, these credit-based systems will not provide quality education. Instead, the government should give an additional option that a student can take some online course after their graduation which can add an extra point for their job or masters.”

‘Similar to previous FYUP’
Seema Das, a member of the university’s executive council, DU’s highest decision-making body, said: “The course is almost similar to the previous FYUP. There are some slight changes. They have added some additional subjects to the new programme. While the core papers will remain the same throughout the year. So, the rest, it is just a way to implement the NEP. In India, we offer affordable education and students from different background come to the university. Why would a student who comes from a poor background waste money for another year? They are talking about the UG, but what about the postgraduate courses? There is no clarity on whether the masters will be a one or two years’ programme. Even, if they implement the programme, the student will exit in the third year and pursue a two-year PG course.” 

A DU student said it will be a disaster for girl students. Many parents force their daughters to get married after three years of UG course and don’t encourage higher education. In that case, many girls will be forced to withdraw from their studies.

DUSU president Akshit Dhaiya, however, welcomed the move and said it will provide multiple exit options to students. “I have read the entire document of this programme and I felt it’s flexible and progressive for students. In many circumstances, students have to leave their study in the middle of the year due to family problems or any other reasons. But under the proposed programme, students would get the opportunity to complete their study whenever they want. It also gives a chance to students to do research. Currently, a student completes research when he or she is 30-32 years old. Under the new programme, they will be able to complete their research by the age of 25,” Dhaiya said.

Chandra Prakash, a former student of (BA Economics) DCAC, DU enrolled in the first batch of FYUP, “I liked the FYUP course. Through the multidisciplinary subjects, I got the opportunity to study different subject and met students of different courses like Journalism, B.com, History and Pol. science and I am still in contact with them and share ideas and knowledge. So, if DU is planning to implement it in this session or next session, it should implement it permanently because our batch suffered a lot due to the scrapping of this program after one year.” 

Geeta, an ex-DU student of journalism who had enrolled on the FYUP batch, lamented: “The mandatory foundation subjects were forced upon us. While some of the subjects were interesting. After one year, our courses changed. Due to this, we did not get any placements. It was complete chaos, and students suffered a lot due to sheer politics.”

Lokesh Chugh, national general secretary of the NSUI, alleged that it’s another U-turn by the Centre. “The party had opposed it when the Congress was in the power. It scrapped it as soon it came to power. What is the need for the course after eight years and what are the hidden motives of the government? Is the government unable to provide placements to the students? The main question is will the programme remain affordable for students coming from remote areas and guarantee placement for them?”  

‘Politicians should stay away’
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, who was the HRD Minister in 2013, said: “When the programme was implemented, everyone opposed it -- from teachers to the opposition BJP. We had gone by the recommendations of academicians and Dinesh Singh was the V-C at that time. In academic-related matters, academicians should decide on what is best for students.

But in our country, the problem is that politicians interfere in most academic matters. Whether three years or four years will be a good idea is something academicians should decide. “ Sibal added that DU thinks the new FYUP is best for the students, the Congress will welcome the decision. But, if it is decided on any politician’s direction, the Congress won’t hesitate to oppose it. 

Idea behind the move
The main idea behind the FYUP programme, a brainchild of Dinesh Singh, was to move towards modern higher |education and promote interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary learning, research and entrepreneurship at the UG level. Sibal had also supported the programme. However, it faced the wrath of students and teachers, especially the BJP-backed teachers’ association, who claimed that the programme was implemented without proper planning, consultations and discussions. 

REFORM LASTED A YEAR

First introduced: 2013

Scrapped: 2014

DU AT A GLANCE

80 Total colleges under DU
4 lakh  Students applied for UG in 2020
70,000  Total number of seats
3 lakh Students currently in colleges

FEATURES OF NEW FYUP

Revised FYUP is part of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020

Recommendations and blueprint submitted by the committee constituted for preparing the course structure

Multiple exit options

Allows Credit Transfer system between national and international University

Students can exit after the first and second year, and rejoin and continue their study anytime

Eight years after it became one of most controversial education reforms, Four-Year Undergraduate Programme is likely to return to Delhi University this year with multiple exit options. While V-C says varsity is ready to implement it, teachers & students claim their concerns have not been addressed, reports Gayathri Mani



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