The acrimonious debate over the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) has seen allegations and counter allegations between teachers and the vice-chancellor but important questions - the way the course was passed and the people who passed it - remain unanswered.
The new programme was passed in a marathon meeting of the academic council in May 2013, where 86 out of 92 members present voted in favour of the programme.
The academic council comprises the vice-chancellor, heads of departments and college principals along with teachers’ representatives. The dissent against the programme were mainly from teacher representatives. This meant that heads of departments and heads of institutions all agreed FYUP was a good idea that followed all norms.
The order passed by the University Grants Commission against FYUP, however, says something entirely different. It says the FYUP is not in accordance with the 10+2+3 system of education enshrined in the National Education Policy of 1986.
The question, then, is that a majority of academic council members decided to ignore the National Education Policy or were they not aware of it? Or do they think that the policy was not violated?
Throughout the discussion on the new programme, most college principals remained tightlipped - neither praising the system nor criticising it.
If members in support of the programme are convinced that the system will work for the betterment of the university and its students, they need to come out and tell us why. So far, only the vice-chancellor has spoken about the programme’s virtues and he too has not had a direct debate with its detractors.
On the other hand, if the members passed the course even though they were not convinced of its merits, they are to share the blame for the upheaval that the university now finds itself in. A number of them say that the course should be rolled back, but only “off the record”.
Standing up for what you believe in is what we learn from our teachers. In the current state of things, we might need to look elsewhere.
The role of the UGC, too, is not above board. The body that has ordered the university to roll back the system today completely ignored the issue last year when it was brought to their notice before the academic council passed it.
Those who oppose the system had written to the same UGC, as well as the Ministry of Human Resource Development, pointing out how it violated the National Education Policy. Two members of the UGC had also demanded that the matter be discussed but it was ignored.
Government-funded educational institutions are given a tag of autonomy to ensure that they are above political and business interests and each member of the institution is able to take decisions independently. Regulatory bodies, on the other hand, are to ensure that all decisions taken are within the ambit of law.
Both seem to have failed to perform their duties in this case.