In the absence of proper course books for the Foundation Courses under the new Four-Year Undergraduate Programme of Delhi University, the students may end up spending up to five to 10 times of their annual course fees on just buying all the readings of one subject.
This “reading list” for each subject consists of a list of writings derived from various authors and textbooks. For example, under the Language, Literature and Creativity – 1 (Indian Literature) course, which is for students who cannot opt for Hindi or other Indian languages, the readings vary from “Vikram Seth, An Excerpt from A Suitable Boy (Delhi: Viking, 1993) pp. 137-49” to “A Rainbow of Contradictions’, Think India, ed. Vinay Rai and William L. Simon (Dutton: Penguin, 2007) pp. 158–62.”
There is no question of students buying these books since there will be too many of them to buy and that would not be worth it, especially for a few relevant pages. While the Vikram Seth book is available at its cheapest at around Rs.560, other readings could end up burning huge holes in the pockets of the students.
In another compulsory course, Building Mathematical Ability the total price after buying all the readings works out to a whopping Rs.35,750! Out of this, readings vary from “Parks -- A Mathematical View of Our World published by Thompson Brooks/Cole,” priced at Rs.10,000, the cheapest deal on the net and “Staszkow and Bradshaw -- The Mathematical Palette, published by Thompson Brooks/Cole”, the cheapest price of which is Rs.14,000.
“It is very easy to go to the library, but we have to understand that these are first year students. In fact, the first thing I do every year is take my students to the library and show them the index system and how to research but the foundation courses have nothing on research methodology,” said English teacher Sanam Khanna.
“Another disadvantage is that the courses will have the student occupied from 9 to 4 and our libraries are open from 9 and shut at sharp 5 p.m. so when are they supposed to go to the library and research this reading material?” she asked.
Ms. Khanna said the concept of library reading that is rampant abroad could not be copied here since most foreign universities had their libraries open 24 hours and the concept of on-campus living or living nearby was the norm there. But Delhi University lacked such an atmosphere. “The university should have had these logistics worked out before starting the course. It is only encouraging poor-quality research,” she added.
Physics teacher Abha Dev Habib also noted that lack of infrastructure could prove a major let-down. “There are major infrastructure issues, there are very few classrooms that can accommodate more than 50 students at a time and so we are dividing the students into batches and groups. The result is that in subjects like Science and Life which comprise Chemistry and Physics, the Physics teacher might have to teach Chemistry and vice-versa, this is because the college has to make use of the same faculty.”