Attending continuous classes and yet struggling to finish their syllabus, science students of Delhi University are not very happy with the way their first year of college is proceeding.
A controversial new system, frequent strikes and dharnas by teachers and empty classrooms took away from them their first experience of college life.
"For the first two months we had no clue what was happening. We would go for class but teachers would not teach," said Kanika Gupta, a chemistry honours student from Hindu College.
"Our seniors couldn't help us as their course structure was different," she added.
It was only after the Delhi high court's order that upheld the implementation of the semester system and directed teachers to go back to classes that teaching started.
Even now, many students find themselves ill-prepared to take on the exams that start in the first week of May. "I am very worried as I don't think I will be able to revise for the exams. We are still trying to finish the course," said Kaveri Gupta, a first-year chemistry student from Kirori Mal College.
"I don't care about the annual or the semester system. I just want time to revise and also to have some fun, which I did not get," she added.
For these students, the guinea pigs for the new system, the timetable has become intense with no free time and continuous classes throughout the day.
Co-curricular activities also took a back seat for students as they were busy worrying about the exams during the months of November and December, when the season of cultural activities begins. "I couldn't be part of the western dance group as I didn't know when my exams would start. My schedule was different from that of the others," said Vinay Bhalla, a student of Hansraj College.
Many teachers, meanwhile, feel that there are basic flaws in the course structure. "The new course in physics, just like other subjects, was prepared in a hurry and it took a toll on the quality of content that was produced. No one was opposed to the semester system per se, but the hurry displayed by the university administration in passing a sub-standard course was not needed," said professor Shobhit Mahajan of physics department. Mahajan was a part of the course committee.
Teachers feel that students are the biggest losers in the whole process as they have to bear the brunt of the controversy. "They first missed out on classes and were then forced to study a course that was half-baked and ill-conceived. We had the best science courses in the entire country but the hurry in passing courses has ruined most of them," said a teacher, who teaches Botany in Miranda House College.
But not all teachers are opposed to the new system. "The course got revised because of the semester system. Also, the new system broadens the horizons of the students and makes them at par with global standards," said Amit Pundir, associate professor, electronics, Maharaja Agrasen College.