‘The [Delhi] University treated us like guinea pigs’. This is how thousands of students are feeling after being caught in a tug-of-war between the university and the University Grants Commission (UGC) over the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP), which the university rolled out last year. Last week, the UGC asked DU to scrap the programme and revert to the three-year programme, failing which, it has warned, the university will face dire consequences. At present, there are 60,000 students under the FYUP. This controversy has also cast a shadow on this year’s admission process, which was due to begin on Tuesday, putting the future of more than 200,000 students in jeopardy, including thousands of outstation students.
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The FYUP has had its share of critics: Many have accused DU of copying the American undergraduate format without having the required infrastructure and staff strength. In his defence, vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh told media houses that this is not the first time that a four-year course has been introduced in India: Both the Allahabad and Bangalore universities run such courses, and that students’ interests were always uppermost in his mind while devising the programme.
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Both DU and the UGC are responsible for this confusion in equal measure. If DU did not do its homework and failed to bring all stakeholders on board before rolling out the programme, the UGC shirked its responsibility in the first instance. If the UGC, which controls the university’s purse strings, is now telling DU to fall in line, what stopped it from doing so when the programme rolled out?
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What is it trying to achieve now by sending letters to the university’s 70-odd colleges, asking them to follow the three-year undergraduate course, and issuing notices in newspapers informing that “FYUP is not in consonance with the National Policy on Education, 1986 and the 10+2+3 structure envisaged under it”? The BJP in its manifesto during the Delhi elections had promised to scrap the FYUP while the Congress had taken the opposite view. Now at this critical juncture both have waded into the controversy, fighting out their political war inside and outside the university, leaving the students to fend for themselves.