Here are all the ways in which CBCS can fail

  • Gauri Kohli, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2015 18:39 IST
No clarity:?With just two weeks remaining for the start of the new ­session at Delhi University, colleges are still not clear about the implementation of CBCS

As Delhi University prepares for the start of yet another academic session, it is also set to implement the choice-based credit system (CBCS). According to a University Grants Commission (UGC) notification, all universities should implement CBCS and semester system from the academic year 2015-16.

This, however, has its challenges, the biggest one being clarity for colleges in terms of implementation. The university has over 60 colleges offering undergraduate programmes in science, commerce and humanities. The CBCS would provide a ‘cafeteria’ type approach in which the students can take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace, take up additional courses and acquire more than the required credits. Thus, they can adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning. But colleges are unsure how this will be possible with just about two weeks remaining for the session to begin.

Colleges worried about clarity

“We are not sure if it will be implemented this year. There are a lot of aspects related to CBCS such as allowing students to take up different subjects and moving from one college to the other. We have little clarity on these and it also has practical problems,” says a senior faculty member from Lady Shri Ram College.

Colleges are also concerned about the lack of resources. “We will have to rely on ad-hoc faculty and expand existing infrastructure to offer choices to students. Familiarisation workshops should be conducted for principals and teachers. We are yet to calculate workload and prepare laboratories and time tables. With over 50% teachers working on an ad-hoc basis, this means that we will wait for clarity before making recruitments,” says another college principal.

It is not clear how the suggested changes will help students. “The university has allowed admissions till August 14, which leaves just about two months for the colleges to finish one semester. And in these two months, we have to make room for other activities too such as seminars, tests, sports competitions etc as well. But we should accept CBCS if it is to be implemented,” says VK Kawatra, principal, Hansraj College.

Challenges amid ­dissent

November 2014 onwards, the MHRD and the UGC sent notices to universities to implement CBCS from the 2015-16 academic session. Abha Dev Habib, member of the DU Executive Council, says the UGC, however, seems to be moving on the project without a script. “While there was no mention of common framework for CBCS in November 2014, suddenly a rigid framework and syllabi of 19 courses were uploaded on the UGC website on April 10, 2015, giving only 15 days for stakeholders to send feedback on syllabi and only 20% freedom to universities to tweak syllabi. No freedom was given to change the framework. Subsequently, the UGC has uploaded other syllabi and informed that syllabi may be changed up to 30%.”

Quality, equity and expansion are three major challenges and it is unfortunate that the UGC proposal papers are silent on these issues, says Habib.

“Implementing of common syllabi across all university, ignoring the diverse needs, histories and background will be detrimental to teaching-learning processes. Common syllabi take away from the universities and from their teachers the ability to frame syllabi in accordance with the needs of the diverse student population to which they cater. It also takes away from the universities the incentive to innovate and to develop special areas. Till date, no courses have been passed by the Academic Council (AC) and the Executive Council (EC). The AC and the EC in their meeting of January 21, 2015, and May 28, 2015, only passed a one-line resolution ‘to implement the CBCS from the academic year 2015-16 under the semester-based undergraduate courses.’ Debate on the matter in these statutory bodies was denied and the vice chancellor announced that CBCS has to be implemented as per the notifications of the UGC and the MHRD,” she adds. A section of teachers is worried that the CBCS may lead to a situation similar to the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). “If the departments have carried out the exercise, it is by taking only a select few on board and in a hurried manner. If courses are drafted and passed in hurried manner, we are bound to repeat the FYUP fiasco,” says an AC member.

Varsity says it is ready for transition

DU, however, clarified that the AC has already granted approval ‘in principle’ to implementation of the CBCS from the coming session. “The implementation cannot happen unless EC accords approval to the draft ordinance that the AC has proposed and this is in process. The university is well-prepared for this transition and the question of violating any statutory provisions does not arise,” says Tarun K Das, registrar.

Why CBCS won’t work at DU

The CBCS cannot be and should not be implemented this year at DU for the followingreasons, say a section of teachers, Executive Council and Academic Council members:

Till date, the statutory provisions of adopting new courses have not been completed. The AC and the EC have not adopted CBCS framework and ­courses.

Students have been admitted without being told that the courses they are taking up could come under CBCS. There is no mention of CBCS anywhere, neither in the printed information handout, nor in the online information bulletin, or in the accompanying list of frequently-asked questions or in the open day presentations.

Admissions to DU started from June 25, 2015 with the announcement of the first cut-off list. In many colleges, students taking admissions were made to fill their preference of optional papers as per the existing three-year courses. Implementation of new courses under CBCS now would be a grave illegality. The DUTA has written to the MHRD, the UGC and the vice chancellor pointing out this aspect as well.

If CBCS is implemented this year, it will add to the chaos. It will be a logistical nightmare to handle three consecutive batches in three different schemes, namely restructured FYUP, three-year semester system and CBCS.

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