By Anupriya Singh
Edited by Nidhi Singh, Junior Editor, The Indian Economist
Amidst mass protests from the students, teachers, intellectuals, activists and politicians in unison, the University of Delhi implemented the Four Year Undergraduate Program last year in an utter haphazard fashion. Mandatory 11 foundation courses, 20 papers of Discipline-I subject, 6 papers of Discipline-II and 2 applied courses constitute the course structure for a span of four years. Students can pursue post graduation in any of the two disciplines. New nomenclature was assigned to various courses. The traditional BBA became BMS. Graduation in Computer Science, Electronics or Psychological Science would fetch a B.Tech degree in these subjects under FYUP. Foundation courses aim to inculcate a holistic approach with a mindset capable to solve real world problems and occupational mobility through class discussions, presentations, projects, activities etc. This program has multiple exit options and is in accordance to the 12 + 4 years format of education as cited as a criterion for higher education by various universities abroad. But very few DU graduates can afford to pursue higher education from these universities. For a large student base from the marginalized section of the society, it is difficult to meet the expenditure of an additional year in order to acquire a graduation degree under FYUP.
The first semester witnessed sheer confusion regarding the program. The teachers and the students alike had no clue how to treat the newly introduced foundation courses. A wide discrepancy was evident across various colleges of the university. Some colleges took the foundation courses as equivalent to the hard core discipline ones while in some colleges classes rarely took place for the former. The books introduced for the foundation courses were branded too basic while some lacked any practical relevance to the present day scenario. The sessions with the DU officials were not fruitful as not all questions were answered and the officials primarily focused on publicizing the pros of this program. By the second semester the picture became clearer, rather students and teachers had adapted to this new graduation system.
Change in power at the centre last month saw a new government led by BJP, a party which opposed FYUP since its inception. The corridors of HRD ministry is afresh with the debate over FYUP. DUTA and ABVP leaders are regulars at the ministry. This process of the program’s rollback is gaining momentum with each passing day as the admission procedure for the new batch has already been initiated.
What does this move hold for the current FYUP batch? The segment that will face a major setback will be the students pursuing a B.Tech degree under FYUP. A B.Tech degree cannot be offered to these set of students if the graduation pattern is changed from four years to three. Institutions like IITs have already expressed their unhappiness over the syllabus of these B.Tech courses. The students took admission bearing in mind the B.Tech degree and the accompanying engineering discipline. As per the eligibility criteria of the joint entrance examination for majority of government and government aided engineering colleges of the country, a student can appear for this entrance test twice in a lifetime and for two consecutive years. Hence these can students no longer switch over to any of these prestigious colleges for a B.Tech degree. Sensing the same, these students are the sole force behind the pro–FYUP banners across the university campus. As per the plan proposed by the senior DU teachers for the current batch once FYUP is rolled back, they aim to teach 6 intensive papers per semester, four of discipline-I and two of discipline-II. This plan fails to cover all the crucial topics of either of the two subjects.
If FYUP is scrapped by the Human Resource Development Ministry, the possible way out for the current batch could be focus exclusively on Discipline-I and Applied Course of the same discipline. This will award a degree and valuable knowledge of one subject, equivalent to the course that existed before FYUP. For the B.Tech courses the degree should remain the same with a span of four years so that the future of the students isn’t in any jeopardy solely due to change in power at the centre. The new batch should be offered a B.Sc degree rather than B.Tech to maintain uniformity.
This act of haphazard introduction and the rollback of such a large scale program will send a strong message across the corridors of policy makers, a message of rigorous discussions with the concerned stratum of the society and intensive consideration of all facades of the policy prior implementation.
Anupriya is a second year undergraduate student in Economics at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. An avid reader, she wants to travel across India to comprehend the varied façade of the Indian culture and traditions. Apart from academics, Anupriya has also dabbled in extracurricular activities like debate and documentary making. She has won numerous awards for her documentaries on social issues. Sports, primarily football, and painting constitute her main interests.