Explained: The structure of the new four-year undergraduate programme
The programme is divided into eight semesters and students will require 160-176 credits for a four-year degree with honours/research. Here is everything you need to know about the FYUGP:
New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday released a draft curricular framework for the four-year undergraduate programmes (FYUGP) that will be implemented from this year in higher education institutions in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The FYUGP seeks to equip students with the capacities in fields across the arts, humanities, languages, natural sciences, social sciences; and ethics of social engagement; soft skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, communication skills, along with rigorous specialisation in a chosen disciplinary or interdisciplinary major and minor.
The programme is divided into eight semesters and students will require 160-176 credits for a four-year degree with honours/research. A credit is a unit by which the coursework is measured. One credit is equivalent to one hour of teaching (lecture or tutorial) or two hours of practical or fieldwork per week. There will be multiple entry and exit options available during the programme.
Several universities, including Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, have already decided to adopt the four-year programme format from the 2022-23 academic session.
HT looks at the structure of the draft that was approved by the UGC during its 556th meeting held on March 10, and made public seeking suggestions from stakeholders on Thursday.
Structure of the four-year programme
As per the UGC draft document titled Curricular Framework and Credit System for the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme, the students will study a set of “common” and “introductory” courses in natural sciences, humanities and social sciences during the first three semesters, regardless of what they choose to specialise in.
The common courses include the English language, a regional language, and courses on “understanding India”, environmental science, health and wellness or yoga and sports, Artificial Intelligence, and big data analysis among others during the first three semesters.
At the end of the third semester, students will have to declare a “major”, which will be a subject they want to study in-depth. In addition to the disciplinary/interdisciplinary major, a student may also choose a disciplinary/interdisciplinary “minor”. During semesters four-to-six, the students are expected to take a sufficient number of courses in the chosen major and minor disciplinary/interdisciplinary areas of study.
At the beginning of the seventh semester — which means the fourth year — each student will take up a research project along with advanced disciplinary/interdisciplinary courses and research methodology courses. “The final semester will be devoted exclusively to the research project. The project should be related to a topic in the chosen ‘major’ disciplinary programme of study or an interdisciplinary topic that has a substantial overlap with the major disciplinary/interdisciplinary programmes of study,” the draft said.
Major and minor courses
The major courses will provide the option for a student to pursue an in-depth study of a particular subject or discipline. Course requirements of majors offered would be 48 credits. A student needs to declare the major only at the end of the third semester. The major may be chosen from a basket of courses including Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biology, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Data Science, Mathematics, Communication, Media, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Archeology, Comparative Literature, Arts and Creative expressions, Creative Writing and Literature, Language(s), Philosophy, etc.
“Both the academic interest of the student and his/her performance in the first three semesters will be considered for allocating the disciplinary/interdisciplinary major,” the draft document stated.
Students will have the option to choose two disciplinary/interdisciplinary minors of 16 credit hours each, including skills-based courses relating to a chosen vocational education programme. While a student would specialise in a major discipline, or an interdisciplinary area of study, they will have the opportunity to also broaden their knowledge and skills by taking courses in other disciplines or interdisciplinary areas of study. The minor courses can be chosen from a learning area relating to Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities, and interdisciplinary courses.
Multiple entry, exit, and re-entry
The FYUGP will be a flexible programme with options for multiple exits, entries and re-entries. Students will be awarded a certificate after completing 1 year (2 semesters) of study in the chosen fields of study, a diploma after 2 years (4 semesters) of study, a bachelor’s degree after a 3-year (6 semesters) programme of study, a bachelor’s degree with honours after a 4-year (eight semesters) programme of study or a bachelor’s degree with research after a 4-year programme of study if the student completes a rigorous research project in their major area(s) of study.
Under special circumstances, students will be permitted an extension, so as to enable them to complete all requirements for the degree. The four-year undergraduate programme will allow credit accumulation through the facility created by the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC) scheme. “The validity of credits earned and kept in the Academic Credit Account would be seven years. After seven years, reentry into a programme of study will be based on the validation of prior learning outcomes,” the document stated.
The credit-hours requirement at each level has also been fixed. Around 40-44 credit hours will be required for a certificate, 80-88 for a diploma, 120-123 for a degree and 160-176 credits will be needed for a degree with honours/research.
Focus on “interdisciplinary approach”
According to the draft document, interdisciplinary courses may form part of the basket of courses to be taken during the first three semesters. These may include, for example, courses relating to Cognitive Science, Environmental Science, Gender Studies, Global Environment and Health, International Relations, Political Economy and Development, Sustainable Development, Urban Women’s and Gender Studies, and so on.
“Interdisciplinary courses would combine the approaches within two or three of the disciplinary areas such as Natural Science, Social Sciences and Humanities that would help students recognise the differences and similarities between disciplines and identify different ways of organising knowledge… The main thrust of interdisciplinary courses will be to promote critical thinking, team-based intellectual activities, and the analytic skills that characterize different disciplinary areas of study,” the draft document added.
Mandatory skill-based internships
Among the key aspect of the FYUGP is induction into actual work situations. Students will be provided with opportunities for internships with local industry, businesses, artists, and craftspersons, among others to actively engage with the practical side of their learning and further improve their employability.’
According to the draft document, students who exit after the first two semesters will undergo 4-credit skill-based courses and 6-credit work-based learning/internship to enhance their employability. Similarly, students who exit after the first four semesters will undergo 4-credit skill-based courses and 6- credit work-based learning, and students who exit after the first six semesters will also undergo 4-credit skill-based courses and 6- credit work-based learning.
Besides, all students will undergo research-based internships with faculty and researchers at their own or other higher education or research institutions during the eighth semester.
Pedagogical approach and learning assessment
The UGC recommends a shift from teacher-centric to learner-centric pedagogies, and from passive to active/participatory pedagogies under FYUGP. Teaching methods, guided by such a framework, may include lectures supported by group tutorial work; practicum and field-based learning; the use of prescribed textbooks and e-learning resources and other self-study materials; field-based learning/project, open-ended project work, some of which may be team-based; and internship and visits to field sites, and industrial or other research.
The draft framework stressed on evaluation will be based on continuous assessment, in which sessional work and the terminal examination will contribute to the final grade. Sessional work will consist of class tests, mid-semester examination(s), homework assignments etc., as determined by the faculty in charge of the courses of study.
The higher education regulator recommends several modes of assessment including time-constrained examinations; closed-book and open-book tests; problem-based assignments; practical assignment laboratory reports; team project reports; oral presentations; computerised adaptive assessment, and examination on demand, among others.