iconimg Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 19, 2013
It may be Delhi University's (DU) biggest centre with nearly three lakh students, but the School of Open Learning (SOL) has been left untouched by a slew of reforms that have come the way of regular colleges.

The highly controversial semester system, which marked the beginning of the reforms in DU, has not even touched it.

According to sources, the SOL administration had written to top university officials, asking them to include the institute in the scheme of things when the process for conversion to semester system was under way. "The SOL was keen, but the university is not ready to touch this huge system," said a senior official requesting anonymity.

The university's regular colleges are ready to go for a four-year honours degree programme, but the SOL has been kept out of its ambit. So, while all colleges will offer an interdisciplinary and flexible degree, SOL will continue to function in an annual mode and offer a three-year degree.

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"The SOL attracts people from across backgrounds, especially working classes. It has a sizeable number of women for whom completing their studies through correspondence is the only option. To exclude such students from the new system, which is being touted as the future of higher education, is not fair," the official said.

Officials said the new system is almost impossible to implement in an unregulated space like SOL. "There are just too many students. How do you give them flexibility? More importantly, how do you conduct exams not once but twice a year?" an official from DU examination branch said.

DU's top administration also acknowledges the problem. "The SOL has been allowed to grow unhindered for two decades and is in a strange orbit now. There are a lot of problems with its functioning such as a cheating scandal that our flying squad just unearthed," said Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor, DU. The university, he added, is keen to bring focus and order to this unregulated space.

"We are waiting for the new system to settle in regular colleges before we move on to the SOL, but we do have a plan to make things better as the future of education lies in correspondence studies," he said.