Learn from past experience with FYUP, say stakeholders

As the central university is all set to introduce the system from the next academic session, the students of the 2013-14 batch said on Wednesday that it is crucial to draw on past experience ahead of the implementation of the new system.
Last year, the admissions to Delhi University’s courses began on October 12 (Amal KS/HT photo)
Last year, the admissions to Delhi University’s courses began on October 12 (Amal KS/HT photo)
Updated on Aug 26, 2021 02:18 AM IST
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BySadia Akhtar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The last time the Delhi University introduced the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in 2013, widespread protests swept across the varsity, undergraduate admissions were delayed, and rival groups clashed on the campus in June 2014, leading to injuries to students and teachers. Almost after an year of uncertainty over admissions under the new regime and unprecedented opposition by both students and faculty, the FYUP was scrapped in 2014.

As the central university is all set to introduce the system from the next academic session, the students of the 2013-14 batch said on Wednesday that it is crucial to draw on past experience ahead of the implementation of the new system.

Former DU V-C Dinesh Singh, who was at the helm when FYUP was last introduced, and a strong votary of the system, appreciated the move on Wednesday. “A lot of hard work went into the implementation of the FYUP during my time. Such ideas are not born in a minute. They are based on many years of experience. I congratulate the academic council of the university for passing the proposal,” said Singh. He gave credit to Dr K Kasturirangan, who is the head of the drafting committee on National Education Policy (NEP), for incorporating the FYUP into the NEP.

Singh said the FYUP paved the way for learning that was not confined to “notes”. “The number of startups, research papers, and patents that were brought out by the undergraduate students in that one year was amazing. Our global rankings also improved post the FYUP. We ran a lot of innovation programmes that gave students an actual experience of learning and putting it into practice,” he said.

When asked about the dissent by at least 16 academic council members to the passing of FYUP on Tuesday, Singh said a difference in opinion did not necessarily mean that the programme or teachers opposing the programme were wrong. “It will always be difficult for everyone to arrive at a consensus,” he said.

A section of teachers in DU, however, were guarded in their reaction to the new system. They said it is crucial to ensure that mistakes from the past are not repeated.

Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) treasurer Abha Dev Habib said though the model has been passed, teachers will continue to strive to ensure that a movement is built against the “dilution of the course”. “Students rejected the idea of FYUP because of the dilution of the first two years of FYUP. We see that the new model once again packs the first two semesters with lukewarm courses. However, we will continue to strive and ensure that past mistakes are not repeated. We will do whatever we can to tweak it or oppose it within the system and beyond,” said Habib.

Manoj Sinha, principal of Aryabhatta College, said unlike the last time, FYUP has been properly debated this time before being brought in. “This is a plan for the whole country. There is a huge difference between FYUP of 2013 and the one that has been floated now. At this moment, we can’t say if it will fail or pass based on past experience. Last time, we had to plan and decide many things. This time, planning has been done by experts at a much larger scale,” said Sinha.

He said as far as its implementation is concerned, issues can be discussed further. “We don’t have too many choices and while there are apprehensions regarding the implementation, these issues can be discussed and debated,” said Sinha.

Sunil Kumar, a member of the teachers’ group, the National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), said it was crucial to remember that the erstwhile FYUP and the current programme are different from each other. Supporting the new regime, he said, “DU academic council also understands that a false equivalence between the previous FYUP and the present 3/4 years UG /Hons programmes need not to be established. The two are fundamentally different.” The group said that the three years honours degree has been retained, and the FYUP will allow students to directly join PhD programmes.

Mahamedha Nagar, who was enrolled in English (Hons) at Miranda House in the first batch of FYUP students, recalled that her first year of graduation was a messy affair. “Our classes will extend till 5-6 pm since we had a number of foundation courses. These foundation courses were often unrelated and disconnected from the core programmes that we had due to which many students didn’t see any merit in these courses. As an English (Hons) student, I was not interested in taking up Mathematics or science courses, but as part of the FYUP batch, I had to study for my main subjects in addition to foundation classes in Maths and computers in the evening hours,” said Nagar.

She said the requirement of completion of foundation courses created hurdles for students who were not familiar with the English language. “Students pursuing Hindi (Hons) and Sanskirt (Hons) were made to study courses in English. It was difficult for them to adjust to the wide-array of courses that were often taught in English,” said Nagar.

Like the 2013 foundation courses,the mandatory courses introduced in the first year this time include papers on environmental science, ethics and culture, social and emotional learning. Teachers said it was only repackaged and will not benefit students like 2013.

“Two credit courses of the erstwhile FYUP mind-body-heart type have been reintroduced as Social and Emotional Learning and Entrepreneurship and Co-curricular Activities. DU had such a disastrous experience with such types of courses and clearly it has not learnt from past experiences,” said a note by 16 teachers who dissented in the academic council meeting that passed FYUP on Tuesday.

Parul Oberoi, who pursued journalism from Delhi University, said FYUP was an “unnecessary intervention” that created hurdles for a number of students. Oberoi said while the idea of FYUP was to impart education at par with the global education structure, the implementation of the programme did not serve the purpose. “We were being taught courses that were of no relevance to us. They were not adding any value to our core concentration,” said Oberoi.

Chhavi Mangleek, another student from the 2013 FYUP batch, recalled that the insistence on foundation courses was unnecessary. “No one wants to devote time to courses that will not benefit them. It was long, hectic, and unnecessary. We had classes till late evening and courses on business, entrepreneurship, mathematical activity among others, despite my course courses being journalism,” said Mangleek.

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