New Delhi: With Delhi University (DU) all set to introduce the new Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), the house remains divided on the issue with some sections of teachers and students opposing it and others vehemently defending it. But, it`s the students and parents who are struggling to understand the new system - with no idea what to make of it.
As students throng the university, which has 79 colleges under it, for admissions, the university is trying to make it easy for them to understand the new system, which is a first for India.
"The present three year system that we have is absolutely flawless... I have been teaching close to 40 years and I don`t see the need to dismantle a perfectly working system," Delhi University Student`s Association secretary S.D. Siddiqui told IANS.
The new course system has faced strong opposition from student outfits like All India Students Association (AISA), All India Students` Federation (AISF) and Students` Federation of India (SFI), along with DUTA, who have demanded the resignation of DU Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh, the man behind the move.
"The decision is arbitrary and we were not consulted. I personally have no idea how this new system will work," a fuming Siddiqui added.
The FYUP will replace every existing undergraduate course of study in every college in DU. Apart from the main subjects, four applied courses offering a chance to use one`s skills will also be taught to the students. The applied courses will be taught in the second and third years.
At present, students can enroll in either an Honours course or a BA/BSc/BCom (Pass) degree in arts, science or commerce. Under the new system, students will have to take up 11 mandatory foundation courses and two discipline courses, one being what they major in.
They can get a diploma if they drop out after two years, a Bachelor`s degree after three and a Honours degree after four years.
However, as per Udit Raj, chairman, All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, the new system would create inequality among students as the extra one year will be a financial burden on the poor students from backward sections.
"Students from the economically backward classes will get sidelined creating inequality," Udit Raj told IANS.
He further said that the addition of English and Mathematics in the foundation course will burden students who don`t want to study these subjects and claimed that the FYUP is being embraced so that the entry of foreign universities into India is eased.
Agreed Siddiqui: "This system will result in DU losing its sheen and the foreign universities will profit from it."
"The DU does not even has the infrastructure to support this. Where will the students sit for an additional year. As it is we don`t have enough space and the required teachers," he added. According to one estimate, there are over 4,000 teaching posts already vacant.
He also said with at least 400,000 students enrolling at Delhi University`s affiliated colleges and the School of Open Learning, it will be very difficult to arrange the additional infrastructure and teaching staff in such a short period.
The uproar also reached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s doorstep, with several politicians, mainly Left leaders, approaching him to scrap the move. The prime minister is also said to have questioned the "hurry" to extend the three-year`s bachleor degree programme to four years.
However, the human resource development (HRD) ministry approves the change.
Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor has backed the proposal, saying it was "potentially very, very positive".
Seeing so much opposition, the vice chancellor had to come out in defence of the move, saying that it will be skill-oriented, supported by work placements and different exit options. While the university is an autonomous institution, it is fully funded by central government.
But the teacher`s fraternity continues to oppose the move. In the face of the debate, it is the students who find themselves at the receiving end.
The recently-concluded Open House sessions, too, failed to answer the many question by confused parents and students, with the university administration failing to provide satisfactory answers, leading to heated arguments and quarrels.
"I am not sure whether this system is good or not. The Open House sessions were of no help and if I go by the newspapers, I don`t get a clear picture about anything," said Shreya Manchanda, a DU aspirant preset at one of the sessions.
The university, however, has maintained that the FYUP would offer practical knowledge to students, preparing them for the job market and helping them in getting placed easily.
"We had called everybody for consultation but no one showed up... this new system is being supported by all except for the left leaning outfits who cringe everytime there is talk of changing things for the better," Sangit Ragi, Deputy Dean of Academics at DU said.