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May 27, 2013 at 12:02pm IST

DU: comprehending the four-year undergrad programme (FYUP)

DU's top academic body has adopted a four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) which is going to be implemented from July 2013. The Academic Council, at a marathon meeting held sometime back, debated the proposal by a task force that was eventually passed with 80 votes in favor and 6 against. The Delhi University has formed a special taskforce, which includes 61 faculty members on the panel. This panel will help to develop courses for Delhi University's four-year programme. As per Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor, DU, nearly 61 teachers have been designated for this task to develop curriculum for these four-year degree courses, across university's departments and disciplines.

The programme will entail a shift from the present 10+2+3 scheme to a four-year graduation with multiple exit points and freedom to complete remaining years later. The decision was described as "historic" repeatedly during the meeting, but the dissenting members argued that before a shift of this degree, a detailed study of courses run in four-year patterns in other institutions should have been conducted and teachers and experts consulted. The council also authorised the vice-chancellor to form committees for various subjects to prepare detailed courses for consideration by the panels. The dissenting teachers opposed this move, saying the procedure for preparing detailed courses is to hold general body meetings in which all teachers participate and course committees are formed consisting of specialised teachers.

The following explains as to how the FYUP will work in DU:

DU: comprehending the four-year undergrad programme (FYUP)

DU has adopted a four-year undergraduate programme to be started from 2013. What are its pros and cons?

Eight semesters

The four year programme will be spread across two semesters annually, totalling eight semesters over four years.

More subjects to choose from

There will be 11 new foundation courses and a total of 26 interdisciplinary courses or DC (20 Disciplinary Courses in Discipline 1 and six in Discipline 2) that a student can choose to study over the four-year period.

Choosing a major and minor

While in the three year programme, an undergraduate could only choose one subject as a major for specialisation, the new four-year programme will allow the student to choose both a major and a minor subject for specialisation.

In the first year, the student can choose his/her major also known as Discipline 1 which will be the main subject of specialisation and comprise a total of 20 papers.

At the end of Semester 2, the student will have to pick a subject as minor (also known as Discipline 2) for Semester 3, which will have six papers spread between semester 3 and 8.

This means that a student who will be joining college in the 2013-14 academic session will have to take seven foundation courses or FC (four in the first semester and three in second) along with four DC I papers in the first year.

The most interesting part of the programme is that students irrespective of their stream of specialisation can choose from these interdisciplinary options for their honours.

This means that a student of natural sciences can choose to pursue political science or history while a student of English literature can choose to study physics, chemistry or even Mathematics as their minor.

Application courses

From semester two onwards up to the fourth semester, there will also be four application courses (one per semester).

Irrespective of DC I or DC II chosen by a student, application courses allow the students to choose from a wide range of courses from history to music.

According to the new programme, students will have three exit options to choose from:

Those who choose to exit the course after two years will be awarded an Associate Baccalaureate degree.

Those who complete three years will receive a Baccalaureate degree.

Those who complete four years will receive a Baccalaureate with Honours or a BTech degree.

Students who choose to exit in the second and third year can return to complete the subsequent programme within a span of 8 years.

Internal Assessment Component

Under the old system, internal assessment comprised 25 marks and had three components: 10 marks for class test, 10 for assignment and 5 marks towards regular attendance.

Under the new system, 15 marks will be assigned for presentation, which could be in the form of a project, or presentation in group.

While one student delivers a presentation, the others are expected to participate by asking questions.

This activity will be monitored and evaluated for both communication and writing skills.

Promotion Scheme

Under the new system, students must have an aggregate of 40 per cent if they want to exit the course after two years and needs to have an aggregate of 45 per cent after three years.

Like any other professional programme, if a student fails to clear a particular subject in one semester, she will be promoted to the next semester and have an opportunity to take the exam later.

To clear the four year programme, students will require an aggregate of 50 per cent.

More Insight into FYUP

The 4 year programme will be spread across two semesters annually, totalling to eight semesters.

There will be 11 Foundation courses(FCs) and a total of 26 inter-disciplinary courses(20 disciplinary courses in Discipline I and 6 in Discipline II) that a student can choose to study over the four year period.

In the FYUP, it will allow the student to choose two subjects for his or her major and minor.

In the first year, the student can choose his or her major also known as Discipline I which will be the main subject of specialisation and comprise a total of 20 papers.

At the end of the semester II , the student will have to pick a subject as a minor(also known as Discipline II) for semester III which will have papers spread between semester III and VIII.

Therefore, the student has to take seven FCs along with 4 DCs in the first year.

Students irrespective of their stream of specialisation can choose from these interdisciplinary options for their honors.

From semester II onwards up to semester IV, there will also be 4 application courses (one per semester).

Irrespective of DC I or DC II chosen by a student, application courses allow the student to choose from a wide range of courses from history to music.

Under the new system, 15 marks will be assigned for presentation which could be in the form of a project or a presentation in group. While one student delivers a presentation, the others are expected to participate by asking questions. This activity will be monitored and evaluated for both communication and writing skills.

Advantages and Disadvantages

ADVANTAGES

It is designed to give students more time to evolve through their courses.

It plans to focus more on practical research and experience rather than theory.

Students will be awarded credit points for different papers as well as co-curricular activities.

Students having problems to complete their fourth year can complete it in the next eight years.

A students is free to choose his or her major or minor as more flexibility will be brought in this new system.

No student will be held back in the semester irrespective of the number of subjects he or she passed in.

Students with difficulties or any other reason can drop their courses at any time after two years of under graduation.

It is beneficial for those students those who want to study in abroad as they need 16 years of schooling which the 10+2+4 system will provide which will further help the Indian students to meet the requirements of the international education system.

DISADVANTAGES

With benefits like increased flexibility, leniency and freedom to students, there are a considerable number of flaws in the new FYUP system. They are as follows.

FYUP has not been discussed properly or debated enough with the faculty of 61 members or in the public before taking the decision.

There are same or lesser number of subjects for majors and minors.

The student has to choose his or her major and minor at the time admission.

There will not be any optional courses as the number of courses offered will be the same or lesser.

A student majoring in a subject will end up studying a lot less in 4 years in comparison to what he or she studies in 3 years.

Instead of current DCs, students will have to spend majority of the first two years studying school level FCs.

Giving the multiple choice options to students in FYUP , it will lead to a huge pool of Associate Baccalaureates who will not be eligible enough for job opportunities in any field just like a college dropout.

DU is likely to suffer in the new college session as there is a shortage of teachers due to the reason that many teachers have opposed to FYUP.

CLASH OF OPINIONS

As the DU's Four-Year Programme becomes the talk of the town everywhere, it surely generates a lot of opinions amongst the people especially the teachers. They are the ones who believe that the whole challenge of changing the education pattern within DU lies with them and hence, are loaded with the burden to create a syllabus which would be appropriate enough for the four year course for any subject. This ambitious programme will begin in July 2013. For the students it provides to be a flexible education system where the study pattern will be complemented with sports and cultural activities which in turn will serve as a multi-disciplinary curriculum.

SUPPORT FOR THE DU FYUP

It is appreciated by the people that it has certain features which are attractive unlike the three year degree had provided. DU FYUP is a new course structure which is designed to give students more time to evolve through their courses which shows off the sign of independence which the students will have from this forthcoming year. This is inherent in the statement of vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh: "FYUP will bring an end to all the academic woes."

It gives an easier way to the students to complete their studies as per their wish. They are free to leave either after two years or three years or four years. It seems that the way the DU is working out its flexible system, no student will be held back in the semester irrespective of the number of subjects the student passed in.

DU FYUP will make sure that there is more focus on practical research and experience rather than theory. The system is beneficial for those who want to go to abroad as it demands sixteen years of education which is 10+2+4.This will undoubtedly help the Indian students to meet the requirements of the international education system.

AGAINST THE DU FYUP

This has become the centre of controversy from day one of its proposal and received criticism from various teacher and student combines. This new idea according to the people had not been discussed properly or debated enough in public. A good crowd of people have protested on the streets of Delhi as part of the "Save Delhi University Campaign". Valid reasons have given by them to reject the proposal of FYUP in DU.

Teachers believe that the decision was taken quickly. It is believed that the four-year programme is going to have its own devastating consequences on the future of higher Indian Education as the skewed representation from different departments have unable to take into consideration the pedagogic concerns of the teachers.

Teachers are simply disassociating themselves from the committee where various decisions are being taken regarding the syllabi of all the subjects under the four year course. Across departments, the syllabi are being framed in a shamefully constrained and coerced time frame by a small number of teachers. They themselves seem to be confused regarding the clarity of the content of different subjects.

Even the students are unwilling to study an extra year as they do not want to prolong a year to pursue their higher education as result of high ambition and aspirations for of quick success. Also it is believed that since many exit options are being provided in this new system, a huge pool of Associate Baccalaureates will be generated and they will not be eligible enough for jobs in any field just like a college dropout which will adversely affect the employment of the youth. Therefore it seems that no matter how quickly this change is being carried out, it is likely to create problems which will ultimately turn out to make no sense in students' lives after college especially if it is not executed properly.

A DEEPER CRITICAL VIEW

Surely the FYUP is an ambitious programme but with so many teachers against the new system, one fails to see how this initiative will work. Even the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has been protesting against the system. They even started a "Save The DU" campaign and also set up a website named 'www.4yrdu.com' criticising the new system with a simple agenda that the students and parents should know what the DU was going to become.

Every choice has its pros and cons and the decision makers in DU have decided to overlook so many of the cons to bring forth a new and flexible system that will apparently elevate DU to global standards. However there are people who have hope in this new system and believe that this is a step forward in the education system of universities. But actually considering that how quickly this change is being made and how many problems it will leave behind does not seem like a sensible decision, especially if it is not executed properly.

MYTHS AND REALITIES

Myth 1: The four-year system is a measure of reform that is necessitated by the state of higher education in India today.

Reality: There is no clarity in the objective of why the Delhi University is moving to a four-year undergraduate system. Is it to introduce more value based courses, or is to elevate the university to "global standards"? Unless the issue is understood, debated and discussed publicly and democratically, reforms will be ill-conceived .

Myth 2: DU is adopting reforms to bring the undergraduate degree at par with America.

Reality: The only similarity with the American system is that students can opt for a four-year course if one wants to (i.e. if they do no exercise the exit option earlier). In reality, the American system offers a wide variety of choices to students, flexibility of choosing majors and minors, accumulating credits over a number of years and across universities. None of these will be available to the DU student .

Myth 3: The four year degree will impart a higher level of education as compared to a three year degree.

Reality: This is the least that can be expected if one whole year is added to the degree requirement, and could have been the strongest argument for switching to a four-year system. The reality is that a student majoring in a subject will have studied less in four years than what one currently studies in three years. In contrast, students in USA or Dhaka University who all do a four-year course finish at a much higher level as compared to our current or future undergraduate.

Myth 4: The four-year system will give the student an opportunity to study a major and a minor.

Reality: This is the first carrot that was dangled for public consumption while rooting for the semester system three years back, as well as when the four-year structure was first mooted. This was also the first thing that was abandoned during the semesterisation process, as well as in the four-year structure. A student declares a major and a minor at some point in their sophomore year (3rd or 4th semester) after studying a number of lower level courses across disciplines. The system of minors allows students to do a few rigorous courses in a subject of her choice, within a well thought out structure, and which courses is a subset of courses that a student majoring in the subject does. A Delhi University student will have to declare both DC 1 and DC 2 at the time of admission, and do six courses of DC 2 that are not the same as DC 1 courses, and which are pitched a lower level.

Myth 5: The four-year system will bring flexibility into the system.

Reality: This indeed is an important aspect of the American system. Students have a wide variety of choice within each major/minor, and other requirements that they have to fulfill towards earning their degree, apart from the flexibility of choosing their major and minor at some point in their second year of study. In contrast, the DU student will not only decide what one has to study at the time of taking admission, one will also have no choice in deciding which foundation courses one wants to study. In all probability, most majors will have no optional courses, since the number of courses offered over four years is the same or less than the number of courses offered over three years currently. The so called "reformed" structure is as inflexible as the current system, if not more.

Myth 6: The four-year structure will be more inter-disciplinary.

Reality: The reality is that the only inter-disciplinarity is in the school-level foundation courses that the student has to do. The interdisciplinary nature of the current BA Honours programme through its concurrent courses (inter-disciplinary courses and discipline centred concurrent courses) and the BA Programme through its foundation and application courses is being done away with.

Myth 7: The four year system with semesters will provide continuous assessment of students.

Reality: The three-year annual system had a tutorial system with an internal assessment scheme that assessed the student in at least one assignment/test per course in each term, as well as a mid-term exam and project for each course every year. The semester system reduced this to one assignment/test and one test/quiz for each course each semester. The four-year system emphasises group project work at the cost of written assignments and tests.

Myth 8: Exit options after two years is in the interest of the student.

Reality: In reality, it will create a pool of students with a certificate called an "Associate Baccalaureate" who will not be eligible for employment in many fields.

Myth 9: The four-year system is designed to help the underprivileged student.

Reality: The opportunities for the underprivileged student has been created through a number of initiatives, the latest being the OBC reservation in educational institutions. While these initiatives ensured that underprivileged students could take admission in courses and institutions that were earlier out of bounds for them, the new four-year system with semesters and multiple exit options may result in the same underprivileged student opting out at an early stage of their studies. In fact the so called reforms will completely negate the advantages introduced in the recent past.

Myth 10: The four-year system is well thought out and has the best brains in the university designing the system.

Reality: In reality, the faculty in colleges and university departments who care most about academics have been left out of the deliberations. One would think that the Delhi University, that has a good number of world-renowned faculties, would have used their expertise to design a new academic system. Instead, the desire to bulldoze the new system, coupled with the insecurity of dealing with academics who would be critical of unsound "reforms", has led the university to constitute committees consisting of mediocre academics.

Myth 11: All stakeholders were consulted during the process of designing the new four-year system.

Reality: By its own admission, the university has only one "Academic Congress" to boast of, with "ten thousand" students, teachers and parents as participants. In reality, even though the so-called Academic Congress was open to all, many people including faculty were denied entry. There was no subsequent attempt to get inputs from faculties, departments or colleges. In fact, they were systematically excluded from all deliberations, and a few hand-picked individuals were chosen for the committees to usher in the "reforms".

Myth 12: Two weeks to a month is sufficient time to design the syllabus for courses to be taught in the new four year structure.

Reality: Universities making such a big change spend between three to five years to deliberate upon and sort out all issues arising out of this change. Syllabus formation itself takes a few months to a year. To expect departments to make a syllabus in a matter of weeks is nothing short of criminal.

And the Vice-Chancellor Speaks.......

Dinesh singh, the vice-chancellor of DU, has answered some questions put forward by students from different colleges of DU on 'Face The Nation' with Sagarika Ghose which surely clears some genuine doubts of the students who are going to be part of the FYUP from the academic session of 2013-2014.The following are the set of questions put across the vice-chancellor:

Q. What was wrong with the old system and how is this new 4 year BA an improvement?

A. The problem with the old system was that it was unfit to create employable students. One of the primary objectives of the public-funded university is to use the knowledge for the welfare and benefit of the society and nation. Therefore, the new FYUP aims to create employable individuals

Q. Will the quality of the course improve when it would be made into a 4-year one?

A. Yes, in many ways. We are not touching the knowledge part at all but rather adding other values to the knowledge component. So there will be knowledge-based skills depending on one's choice. In the second year, many options will kick in for the students. They will have knowledge-based options and skills based options which will add to the knowledge of a student to make him or her employable.

Q. Will the 4-year programme ruin the education system when it comes to choices and academics?

A. No it will not. A student will be given options to major in one subject and from the second year onwards a wide choice of courses of minors will be offered. Academically also it will enhance the students in terms of knowledge in today's reality as the 4-year programme will help the students in good communication, in IT systems and data. It will make students more realistic and pragmatic.

Q. How will the students benefit from the 4-year degree?

A. It will help the students to obtain job opportunities easily and also will help them in higher academic research.

Q. Will the four-year course focus on making the evaluation system transparent?

A. Yes, it will. Fifty per cent of the credits for the students will be obtained from the first and second years (which will comprise foundation courses) through project workslike class demonstrations. Therefore, students will be transparently graded. This is also one of the huge interventions made in the credits system of DU.

Q. How would studying foundation courses (FCs) benefit when a student's foundation is built in school itself?

A. FCs are not like elementary school level teaching. It is completely different at the university level. This decision has been taken after a lot of discussion and consultation. There are some meaningful challenges in India and Indian society which the FCs are going to address in a trans-disciplinary fashion to give the students a practical and theoretical insight into them.

Q. Does DU have infrastructure to go with the 4-year degree?

A. Well if it is about space then those issues have already been tackled with the principals. No issues there. In addition, DU has constituted a Central Infrastructure Enabling Committee to look into issues regarding space if they arise.

Q. Will the 4-year degree guarantee placement?

A. Yes, of course. We are getting many institutions which would provide placements for the students of DU, both private and government like FICCI, CII, Department of Electronics, Department of Skills run by the government, government and private banks. It allows the students to get jobs and aspire to become entrepreneurs.

Q. Will the 3-year DU degrees lose value after introducing the new system?

A. No,it is not going to be like that. There are a lot of people having the 3-year degree and getting jobs. Be self-confedent. Also, the fact that one has graduated from DU is itself a big thing as it carries a lot of weight later.

Q. Has the new BA been pushed through hurriedly without taking all stakeholders on board?

A. The most distinguished and well known faculty, all the Bhatnagar Award winners, fellows of the Academy of Sciences, all the Deans and professors have lent their support to the new system. Even when I presented my idea of the 4-year degree to a bunch of faculty members, the response was very good. There is only a certain section of people which has been opposing this new system, perhaps defending their left ideology. Also because no vice-chancellor has ever made this kind of change.

Q. By introducing the 4-year degree, are we trying to copy the west or is there any other reason?

A. No, it is not like. If that is the case, then the 3-year degree would also be an imitation. Duration is not an imitation. It is rather what we have included in this duration. One of the main changes is that a student will get his or her credits through NSS or ECA or sports which does not exist in any university in the West, that also for his or her own degree.

Q. Has MA also been thought of,as a one or two-year professional course?

A. MA will automatically become a sort of credit-based system. Those who want to do a 4-year programme will require credits worth 1 year effort and those who want to do a 3-year programme will require credits worth 2 years effort.

Q. Will review and revisions be done regularly in the new system?

A. Yes, of course. Whenever a course is about to end, a proper review will be done with participation of the students.

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