Delhi University (DU) is all set to commence the admission process for the new four-year undergraduate courses for the academic session 2013-14. As per the statement issued by the office of dean, students’ welfare, the process will start on June 5. Notification of the first admission list by colleges will be put up on June 27 starting the process and payment of fees.
“There will be a common pre-admission form (OMR) that will be available online as well as offline. All students seeking admission shall have to fill this form. The number of colleges where the forms will be available has been increased from 10 to 18. We have tried to make the admission process simpler this year. All colleges will be open for students. They just need to select their choice of main discipline in the form and can take admission in any college, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria,” says Virender Bhardwaj, a member of the expert committee working on DU’s admission policy.
The only major change in the admissions process is for candidates belonging to the SC/ST category. Unlike previous years, the applicants, like those in the general and OBC categories, will be given an option to choose their course and college. Earlier, the university allotted them a course and college disregarding their preferences in the application. While the process has been decentralised for SC/ST candidates, it will remain centralised for the differently-abled candidates.
Even as opposition to the implementation of the four-year under-graduate programme in Delhi University gathers momentum, most departments have approved the new syllabi. Around 50 courses had been approved at the time of going to press. The faculty of sciences has granted approval to courses like physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, anthropology, geology, home science (food technology), etc. The faculty of arts has approved the course structure for subjects like English, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Buddhist studies, linguistics, Persian, psychology, philosophy, modern Indian languages and literary studies, and Germanic and Romance studies etc. The departments of English, economics, psychology, philosophy, computer science, commerce and maths have also approved the courses. Other departments, too, are in the process of approving courses.
With the four-year course coming into effect, the students will have 11 compulsory papers of the foundation course, 20 papers of discipline 1, six papers of discipline 2, five papers of the applied course (skill-based) and one paper on integrating mind, body and heart which focuses on holistic development of students. It’s a non-credit course where students won’t be given any marks but it will be retained on the degree. Cultural and sports activities are also a part of the curriculum which includes NCC, sports, NSS etc.
According to the new degree nomenclature, students will be offered two exit options - at the end of second and third years. If a student decides to opt out of the course after completion of the two years, he/she will get an associate diploma. At the end of third year, the student can opt out with a bachelor’s degree. If the student completes four years, a bachelor with honours will be awarded. “Those who take the exit option after two or three years will be entitled to join the university again if they return within eight years of enrolment. But how it will be done, that hasn’t been decided yet,” said Sangeet Ragi, deputy dean, academics, DU.
In the new programme, no student will be held back irrespective of the number of subjects passed in a semester. To take a diploma, the students need to get an aggregate of 40%. For a bachelor’s degree and a bachelor with honours, an aggregate of 50% is required.
The varsity will welcome the students in the new four-year degree programmes with free laptops and teachers will be given notebooks. The move is aimed at making better use of technology in the new innovative undergraduate programmes. All colleges under DU are likely to be linked with the National Knowledge Network (NKN) by the end of June. And the laptops will equip students to connect with classrooms anywhere in the country while sitting in their colleges. A bandwidth of 1000 MB will be available in the NKN, which can be used to connect with different colleges for better academic cooperation. “DU plans to integrate information and technology with academics in the new four-year programmes for which LCDs and projectors have already been installed in many colleges,” said Bhardwaj.
The university has decided to scrap the BA/BCom/BSc programmes (earlier known as pass courses) and their seats will be added to honours courses across DU colleges.
Also, three undergraduate business programmes — bachelor of business studies (BBS), bachelor of financial investment and analysis (BFIA) and bachelor of arts in business economics (BBE) will be merged into one course. “The new course will be named bachelor of business management. The course structure has been finalised and there is a possibility of an increase in the number of seats,” said SK Garg, principal, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, which has been offering BBS until now.
Poles apart: The four-year degree has polarised opinion in the university
There has been persistent opposition to the new four-year degree on various grounds. “The implementation of the four-year degree programme is happening in a hurried manner, without proper discussion or roadmap. How can we teach the same curriculum to a group of students, out of which, a few might plan to exit after two years and others might want to complete the course? Moreover, students have the option to exit after two years. If a physics student of Delhi University decides to exit in 2015-16 under the four-year-undergraduate format, he would have done just one paper on thermal physics and another on mechanics in discipline 2,” said Abha Dev Habib, assistant professor, department of physics, Miranda House.
Sanam Khanna, who teaches English at Kamala Nehru College, said, “The new syllabus has taken annual papers in one semester. This will put a tremendous amount of pressure on students which will make them take short cuts and depend on guides. Earlier, the whole idea was to engage students in texts and do secondary reading. The value of the degree is at risk. This will end up being destructive for the university and students.”
Many teachers opposing the four-year format have questioned the need for the foundation papers, which they feel are school-level courses. However, it has supporters as well.
“All round development is necessary to survive in the globalised world which is all-encompassing. You can’t live in a narrow world; basic knowledge of IT, Maths, entrepreneurship, environment etc helps in decision-making,” the former principal of a DU college said on the condition of anonymity.
Defending the courses, Virender Bhardwaj, a member of the expert committee working on DU’s admission policy said, “Distributed over two years, these foundation papers will emphasise hands-on training. Subjects like information technology, governance and citizenship, science and life, psychology communication and life skills, environment and public health and language papers will be offered as foundation papers. These papers will help students of socially backward classes who can’t afford to join coaching centres to prepare for competitive exams.”
Another matter of concern for teachers is the exits placed on the four-year-undergraduate programme.
“With exit points, a student can opt out of the course with a diploma after two years, but from the employment point of view it has no value. Who will give a job to a diploma holder who has studied nothing but basic foundation courses?” asked Habib.
“No university can guarantee jobs, not even IIT. In the first two years, the student will develop generic, technical and subject-specific skills which enable him to get a job,” said Sangeet Ragi, deputy dean, academics, DU.