While the choice-based credit system (CBCS) is rolled out in regular colleges of Delhi University (DU) this year, students of its distance education institute, the School of Open Learning are a worried lot. They fear they’ll be at a disadvantage if CBCS is implemented only in regular colleges.
“How can CBCS implemented in distance education mode given the limited courses, classes and infrastructure? DU has the semester mode while SOL is still in the annual exam mode. Can a student of SOL expect the same benefits and freedom of choice like a regular college student? If CBCS is brought in regular colleges, it should also be done at SOL. Otherwise, it should be scrapped altogether,” says Mohammad Shahnawaz, a political science student of SOL.
While over 1.5 lakh students are in the regular courses, SOL caters to over 4.5 lakh students. “Semesterisation of regular undergraduate programmes at DU has over-burdened the system with examinations, reduced time for self-study and in-depth-study. Academic and examination standards have been compromised. With over 50% students coming from SC, ST and OBC backgrounds and students with varied schooling, the system has failed to cater to the needs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students and teachers have continuously voiced their opposition to the semester system not only in Delhi University but also in universities and colleges of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat. Semester system is one of the crucial components of CBCS. However, semesterisation will neither be desirable nor feasible for SOL students for similar reasons. In fact, for SOL evaluating 4.5 lakh students twice a year will be a big challenge. Therefore, till date courses offered by SOL and Non-Collegiate Women’s Education Board are in the annual mode,” says Abha Dev Habib, member, DU Executive Council.
According to Subhash Jha, who has filed an RTI with SOL, requesting clarity on CBCS, while there is choice of core and foundation papers for the regular college students in the coming CBCS, SOL students cannot make basic course choices as SOL does not offer BA (hons) Hindi, BA (hons) history, BA (hons) sociology in SOL. “A university cannot run dual degree courses,” says Jha. On the question of whether CBCS will be implemented in SOL, the RTI reply gives no clear answer and says, “Under RTI Act 6 (3), the same pertain to the University of Delhi.’
Another surprising response to the RTI, a copy of which is with HT Education, is on the equivalence of a regular and SOL degree. As per the reply, a SOL degree is equivalent to a regular college degree even though in a ruling the Calcutta High Court had stated: “be it a graduation degree, a master’s degree, PhD degree or MPhil degree which is granted by an open university either through distance mode of education programme or through any informal education programme cannot be equated with the graduation degree, master’s degree, PhD degree granted to a candidate by formal conventional recognised universities after conducting a conventional course on regular basis.”