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'Voices of dissent are coming from biased people'

After taking over as the DU vice-chancellor, you had indicated that all decisions pertaining to the semester system would be taken after a dialogue with teachers. The same teachers now allege that this has never happened.

delhi Updated: Apr 13, 2011 00:14 IST
Mallica Joshi

After taking over as the DU vice-chancellor, you had indicated that all decisions pertaining to the semester system would be taken after a dialogue with teachers. The same teachers now allege that this has never happened.

You must recognise the fact that I met more than 3,000 teachers after joining office to know their opinion. Only 12 teachers had voiced concerns about the implementation of semester system. The voices of dissent are coming largely from biased people. The English Department General Body Meeting said it rejects the semester system "in toto", but when the same resolution came up in the meeting of the Committee of Courses, it was rejected. How can I give credence to such conflicting views?

Many departments have divided the syllabus into two for the semester. Has the university missed out on an opportunity to revise syllabi?
The process of reform has just started and this is the first step. In two to three years, we hope to evolve a better system. The course structure will also be changed, if need be. Also, what does one lose in bifurcating the syllabi? It will be beneficial for the students, as they will have to study less for each exam.

Why is there no flexibility and inter-disciplinarity in the new system?
Interdisciplinary subjects have already started in many colleges and courses. This is interim though. I hope in two years we will be able to evolve a system where students don't take admission to a particular course but to undergraduate study. Students should be allowed to study a combination of even unrelated subjects.

The non-availability of a manual to prepare the syllabus has been called the latest obstacle in preparing a semester syllabus. Do you plan to introduce any guidelines?
No manual has been provided since the university wants to ensure academic freedom. Teachers have been given the freedom to experiment with course content and structure. Had we provided a framework, detractors would have accused us of dictating terms to them.

Does the semester system make a case for giving more autonomy to colleges?
That is what we are aiming at. Colleges will be given a great degree a freedom to grade answer scripts and teach what they think is important.

Students will not be allowed to apply for answer script re-evaluation under the new system. How fair is this?
Re-evaluation is a bad practice. The first evaluation itself should be fair and error-free. The new marking system that we have proposed will take care of that. The students have been given the right to reappear for an exam if they are not satisfied with the marks.

Will students be able to find time to participate in co-curricular activities now?
Students across the world participate in co-curricular activities and are part of semester system. In the US, the best sportspersons are university students. This concern is unfounded.