A view of an entrance to Delhi University. (HT Archive) PREMIUM
A view of an entrance to Delhi University. (HT Archive)

Delhi University has approved FYUP. What does it mean for students?

Varsity officials have said that students wanting to opt for the regular three-year undergraduate course will be allowed to do so
By Sadia Akhtar and Kainat Sarfaraz
UPDATED ON SEP 13, 2021 05:12 PM IST

With Delhi University (DU) approving the implementation of the four-year undergraduate programme last month, the central varsity is set to roll out the mammoth structural change next academic session. The university is also set to implement other provisions laid down in the National Education Policy 2020, including enrolling itself in the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC) system and allowing students to opt for Multiple Entry-Exit Scheme (MEES) for increased flexibility in higher education.

While critics have argued that the FYUP-ABC-MEES system will dilute higher education degree and may incentivise dropouts due to an extended year of learning, policymakers have said that it will provide a more holistic and flexible approach to students allowing them to immerse themselves in multidisciplinary education.

DU officials have said that students wanting to opt for the regular three-year undergraduate course will be allowed to do so. In 2013, however, the then university administration under Dinesh Singh had introduced FYUP and allowed students to exit any year. The decision had led to widespread protests back then as students complained of studying non-essential courses in the name of multidisciplinary education and the programme was scrapped by the Central government in 2014.

NEP 2020 has now brought it back to the front with all universities holding discussions on adopting the programme structure.

What will students learn under DU’s new FYUP structure?

While allowing universities to retain the three-year undergraduate (UG) degree, NEP advocates for the four-year programme. “The four-year multidisciplinary Bachelor’s programme, however, shall be the preferred option since it allows the opportunity to experience the full range of holistic and multidisciplinary education in addition to a focus on the chosen major and minors as per the choices of the student,” the policy document stated.

Therefore, the structure of the current UG course will be changed, allowing DU students to opt for a three-year Honours programme or a four-year Honours in a Discipline or a four-year Honours in a Discipline with Research. In addition to existing courses, students will also learn two Language and literature courses instead of one, a course on social and emotional learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, and ethics and culture as part of “holistic curriculum” with a multidisciplinary approach.

In addition to the courses that exist in the current honours program, the new programme shall include a number of additional courses in the first three years of the program. These course will focus on social and emotional learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, extracurricular activities, ethics and culture and multidisciplinary research.

In the fourth year of the program, students can either choose to pursue an Honours degree in a particular discipline or an Honours degree with research. In case students opt for an honours course, they would be required to study four generic elective (Minors) papers in the fourth year. The students shall also study two discipline-specific elective papers and will be required to complete a research dissertation on the major discipline.

In case students opt for an honours degree with research, they would study two generic elective (Minors) papers in the fourth year. Student shall also study two discipline-specific elective papers and would need to complete a thesis/ internship in semesters VII and VIII.

While students will have 14 Discipline Specific Core papers, eight general elective papers and four discipline specific elective papers under three year programme along with two ability enhancement course papers, FYUP students will study two papers each under DSE and GE papers. They will also have to take up thesis or an internship depending upon the subjects they choose. Each semester will have 24 credits adding up to 196 credits under FYUP.

As proposed by the NEP, students will be able to exit at multiple points with different degrees. While the ABC option allows students to earn credits for different courses and then transfer them to their academic bank, the MEES option allows students to transfer and carry forward credit from one university to another. The two schemes allow students to gain credits as per their learning, store them in a digital vault, and use them to switch courses and resume their study at any point if they have to exit the course after the first, second, or third year.

Under the MEES provision, certificate will be awarded to students who exit at the end of the first year while a diploma shall be awarded to students who exit at the end of the second year. Students shall be permitted to rejoin the programme to pursue a higher qualification, as per the policy adopted by the University. Non-DU students, however, will need to appear for an entrance.

DU acting vice-chancellor PC Joshi said that the new FYUP under NEP could not be compared with the earlier FYUP as the three-year honours programme would continue to stay. “Those who are interested in the three-year programme can go for it in their respective subjects. Only, those who would like to go opt for a research degree can opt for the research-based four-year course. The advantage for them will be that they can simply pursue a one-year masters’ course,” said Joshi.

He said that there was no reason for students to worry since they could pursue the three years honours degree programme but had simply been provided with another additional option of the four-year degree program. He said that the university had done a good thing by doing away with the hierarchy of programs. “The hierarchy entailing to honour programs and pass course has been done away with. Everyone now gets a honours degree. It is more advantageous for the students and there are no harms of the four year degree program,” he said.

How would higher education options change for those pursuing FYUP?

Policymakers and educationists have said that the four-year UG programme would be in alignment with global education practices thus allowing Indian students more opportunities in the higher education prospects in other countries.

Former DU V-C Dinesh Singh, who was at the helm when FYUP was last introduced in DU, said that the FYUP was in sync with global higher education formats. He said that various provisions including credit transfer would offer more flexibility to students. “FYUP doesn’t restrict learning to notes. It’s a well-thought and innovative mechanism of pedagogy and would help students if they wished to study in other countries,” said Singh.

As per the road map of higher education laid down in NEP, universities will have the flexibility to offer different designs of Master’s programmes including a “two-year programme with the second year devoted entirely to research for those who have completed the three-year Bachelor’s programme”, and the second one for FYUP students with Research “there could be a one-year Master’s programme.”

This means that students opting for a three-year degree would have to go for a two-year PG programme and those with a four-year UG programme with research would be allowed to go for a one-year PG programme. Since NEP’s policy document was released last year, universities across India are currently in the stage of holding discussions and chalking up the plan on how to implement the policy. The Covid-19 pandemic has also slowed down the progress, officials said. So far, Karnataka is the first state in the country to implement NEP in a step-by-step process and targets to complete the revamp in a decade.

Several other universities in the capital including Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Ashoka University are currently still working on implementing the provisions of the NEP. There has been no announcement on when the universities will roll out the one-year postgraduate programme as envisaged in the NEP. University officials that HT spoke to said that they have another four years at least to plan the postgraduate programmes as these universities, including DU, were yet to implement the four-year programme.

DU has already adopted the NEP provisions for PG courses as well. Executive Council member VS Negi said that the varsity had decided in an EC meeting held last month that the option of two-year masters was available for the three-years-course while those who pursue a four-year course could opt for a one year masters. He said that the four-year course would provide more clarity to students wishing to pursue higher education.

Additionally, universities will also be able to provide an option of an integrated five-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programme. “Undertaking a PhD shall require either a Master’s degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s degree with Research. The M.Phil. programme shall be discontinued,” the policy document states.

Academics fear dilution of UG, reduction in workload

Faculty members fear that the new course structure will lead to the reduction of workload adversely. DU executive council member Seema Das said that teachers from the Hindi department and commerce among others had expressed concerns that there work might get reduced thus affecting the prospects of hiring. “Under FYUP, both a three-year honours degree and a four-year honour degree are being offered. The core papers for the three-year honours degree are being reduced. Earlier, students used to take 18 papers till the third year but now the number has been reduced to 16,” said Das.

The dilution of the quality of course is also a grievance that has been raised by many. DU faculty members said that the introduction of multidisciplinarity will compromise on the quality of the core curriculum. Another provision that has faced flak is the idea of multiple exits over the duration of the course. There are fears that the provision of the move will have negative impact on marginalised backgrounds that are more likely to drop out. “We will end up creating an elite education system since students who are not economically well off and women and others from marginalized communities are more likely to drop out,” said Das.

She also said that the introduction of an additional year will increase the financial burden on students. The restructuring of the course has also come under the scanner. Many faculty members contend that students will end up with low-quality dissertations in their last year.

On concerns surrounding reduction of workload, Joshi said that the coursework is likely to increase. He said that the number of credits had been increased and hence an increase in workload was likely. “We will not let the workload of teachers get affected. Our academic council resolution clearly states the same. If teachers have their own apprehensions, we can’t do anything about that,” he said.

Talking about the incorporation of extra-curricular activities, drama, and sports into the curriculum, Joshi said, “Earlier, students never credit for such activities and felt that they were wasting their time. Now, they have been incorporated into the degree programme which is a great progressive move.” He said that due to the new changes, higher education had become more inclusive than ever before. “Things have become more flexible than ever before because one can enter later if they were to drop out at some point earlier,” Joshi added.

However, not all are opposed to NEP or its provisions adopted by DU. Educationist Meeta Sengupta who has studied the NEP in detail said that the policy was visionary in nature and would help students to prepare themselves for higher education opportunities in the global sphere and add to their employability levels.

“There have been concerns that our students do not have the necessary skills for research in the higher education sector or they are not job-ready. The four-year programme gives students more time to build on their existing higher education and employability skills. Care has to be taken while designing the course structure in such a way so that students don’t end up studying the same thing throughout the course of their degree. The curriculum has to have in-depth knowledge of subjects that allows students to build on to their research skills and ability to critique which aren’t usually covered in schools and make them ready for employability as well as for higher education in other countries. The curriculum should focus on a deeper understanding of subjects instead of taking a surface-level approach towards learning,” she said.

Stakeholders wait for more information

Stakeholders including students who will complete their schooling next year are yet to learn much about the NEP implementation in detail and are mostly waiting for the roll out to learn more about it.

Asheer Kandhari, 17, a Class 12 student, said that she was considering applying to both universities in India and abroad and was researching possible options. “DU is definitely an option but it’s too early to say anything. I have not come across any substantive discussions on FYUP so far. People could possibly start talking about it once it is rolled out,” said Kandhari, a student at Step by Step School, Noida.

Another Class 12 student, Kudrat Mehta, 17, who studies at Delhi Public School in Gurugam Sector-65, said that she was hoping that the introduction of FYUP would work in students’ favour since the NEP aims to shift focus from a rote-learning based system to a more practical-based system.

“The NEP envisages a more application-based approach to education, we have been told. In view of that, I think the course will definitely benefit students like me who are hoping to get some practical job experience while studying. I think the four year course will give us a chance to implement the skills that we pick up in the three years to see if the field of our choice works for us or not. Having a research year will also broaden the perspective of the discipline and is better when compared to a system where so many times students up going for a masters without having any understanding of practical experience in the field,” said Mehta, who is a humanities student.

School authorities said they also have career counselling programmes and seminars on admission process. Malini Narayanan, the chairperson of the National Progressive Schools Conference which has 195 schools across India under its umbrella, said, “We connect with agencies on a private basis who have expertise in the area and also invite college principals to talk on the matter. There is synergy between schools and colleges. As far as DU’s FYUP is concerned, we have started the discussion with our students on different subject combinations and the multidisciplinary nature of the course”

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