DU did not have an easy time dealing with the shift from a three-year, annual BA/BSc degree to a semester-based academic term. With the Delhi University
Teachers Association (DUTA) and the All India Students’ Association (AISA) vehemently opposing the change, about 23 DU courses were finally given the official semester-based syllabi as approved by the Academic Council on April 25, 2011. However, the decision to evolve into the semester-based education system is not unprecedented in the history of academic institutions in Delhi.
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IIT-D) are two such premier universities which already follow a full-fledged semester system for all their courses. An academic year in JNU is divided into two semesters with one semester comprising of 90 working days.
According to Prof VK Jain, Dean of Students, JNU, “the continuous evaluation of a student throughout the academic term with an extensive student-teacher interaction are the greatest strengths of the semester system. Moreover, the students are engaged all through the year in a balanced manner and there is no last-minute stress to prepare for a heavy-syllabus based annual exam.”
Such a system also ensures the timely delivery of results by teachers taking on additional pressure to finish marking answer sheets before the next term so that the students are ready with their results before registration.
IIT-D, since its inception, has grown steadily both in size as well as in the scope of its activities. An academic year in the institution year from July through June in the next year and is comprised of three semesters. Typically, the first semester starts in the last week of July and ends in the second week of December; the second semester starts in the last week of December/first week of January and ends in the second week of May. The summer semester starts in the third week of May and ends in the second week of July. The semester-based education system has been instrumental in imparting excellent education to the students in the field of applied science and technology for the past four decades.
In Delhi University, courses like BA journalism (Honours) and BSc computer science followed the semester system right from their inception. These professional courses required a regimen which would ensure the continuous development of students. Since there is emphasis both on internal evaluation and external examinations, it leaves no room for laxity on the part of teachers and students. In academic courses like BA Political science (Honours), the course which was previously studied over a year would now be divided in two semesters with additional inter-disciplinary courses which would provide greater knowledge and perspective to students as well as flexibility to the course.
Courses in DU which followed the semester-system even before 2009
. Bachelors in business studies, BA (Honours) Business economics
. Bachelors in financial and investment analysis
. BSc computer science
. BA (Honours) journalism
. Bachelors in mass media and mass communication
Since the semester system is touted as the next step in the evolution of academics in DU, positive aspects of the semester system also include the constant need to be modern; to adapt the syllabus to changes in the trends and patterns of society.
There is a great emphasis on the idea that the education system needs to remain relevant to the existing society.
Professor Jain from JNU also commented on how the change in the system of education in DU is a good move.
“As an outsider, I can say that this shift from an annual to a semester-based system in DU is a positive one. The universities in USA follow the same pattern and have been producing excellent students for decades,” he said.
This change offers the country sound progress by helping to nurture globally-aware and responsible citizens with the help of a holistic education with emphasis on both, body and mind.