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Semester break

Delhi University’s new semester system for postgraduates will help the push towards world standards, reports Ritika Chopra.

education Updated: May 27, 2009 10:20 IST
Ritika Chopra

Delhi University (DU) is set to break away from the annual system of examination. Though a year late, the university will finally abandon its annual system of education, a relic of the British Raj, and introduce semester system for postgraduates.

Institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology already have the uniform semester model at the postgraduate level.

The makeover comes in wake of the reforms suggested by the University Grants Commission earlier this year.

The execution of the recommendations is, however, running late by one whole academic year. The semester system was to be implemented in the 2008-09 session.

“The report of the reforms committee for postgraduate education was passed hastily during the academic council meeting in February. The vice-chancellor wanted to put the semester system in place as soon as possible. Later, he said the university needed more time to do the groundwork,” said a member of the academic council on conditions of anonymity.

The vice-chancellor and the heads of various departments are now convinced that the semester system will be introduced next year.

Get ready for a longer winter break

Different departments in DU use different models. Some departments already follow the semester system. Others use the traditional system of annual examinations.

The switch to the semester model, therefore, will not affect all the departments.

The Hindi department, which follows the annual system, is among those that needs to make big changes, including revision of course work.

“Our current syllabus is repetitive and does not include new approaches of studying literature. The Hindi department has formed a sub-committee to make the course more interactive and student friendly,” said Sudheesh Pachauri, head of the department at the university.

Departments of English and Political Science, which currently conduct classes in semester format and have exams annually, may not have extensive course revision but will work out a new time table to suit the semester system.

“The next academic calendar will have semesters of equal length, that is 16 weeks each. Currently, our first semester is shorter than the second one by two to three weeks. That apart, the new calendar does not have an autumn break. The winter vacation has instead been made longer,” said Sharmistha Panja, a professor in the English department.

English with law anyone?

In a bid to bring the varsity’s education standards at par with those abroad, the university will also allow inter-disciplinary studies in its postgraduate courses next year.

“The idea is to enable students at the MA/MSc level to choose about 20 per cent of their courses from other subjects or related fields. This will be allowed across faculties (inter-faculty) as well as departments (intra-faculty),” said Panja, who was a member of the reforms committee for postgraduate education that submitted its report in February this year.

“Introducing inter-disciplinarity makes a lot of sense for the arts and social sciences as most humanities subjects are interlinked. This will help enhance capability and universities abroad have offered such options to students for long,” said Achin Vinaik, head of Political Science department.