Senior secondary school students, whose main goal at the end of Class XII was a good college at Delhi University, might have changed their minds with no real desire to be guinea pigs. Others might not have any choice but would like some information about the new four-year course. Either way, it is better to know what is in store for you before you invest the next four years of your life for a degree that would take three years elsewhere. Therefore, read on.

“In the three-year structure, a student was branded an honours or non-honours student as soon as he or she entered college, with no choice to change that. But, now all the students who enter the university are potential honours students as we have merged the honours and programme courses,” said DU’s Dean (Academics) Malashri Lal when asked about what was lacking in the previous course that an extra year was added.

“Our honours and degree courses are more rigorous than those offered by any other university in the country; if a student leaves with a degree after the third year, it will be at par with any other degree holder in the country but with additional skills that make him or her more employable than those from other universities. Most of our English (Honours) students find jobs in the media; and History (Honours) students in places like museums. They were not trained for these in colleges but managed on their own. However, from this year onwards that onus will be on each college where practical classes will be held to equip the students for these sort of jobs,” said Prof. Lal.

“In the Academic Congress held in September 2012, we had feedback from bureaucrats, politicians, corporate houses and academics, all potential employers, that our students were not equipped enough to work right away, that they had to be trained. There lies the main philosophy…you are able to work as soon as you graduate,” she said, and added that holistic development was the intention behind the applied courses as well as the first two years of compulsory foundation courses that have invited sharp criticism from many.

The Dean said the new courses would also help students bring their subject knowledge into daily life use. “When we speak of ‘Building Mathematical Ability’, we do not mean that in this foundation course subject the student would be forced to learn Mathematics in its strictest sense, but it’s more about learning the ability to survive in real life, like understanding your bank statement, calculating percentages and deciphering data,” she said, adding that other foundation courses were also structured along the same lines.

“Another example is if you take Physics, you won’t just learn theory but you will know how to use it in real life. In almost all the courses, classroom teaching will not be the main focus, but will be through discussions and presentations.”

Applied courses are those which can be chosen by a student in the second year which he or she thinks might improve their employability. “We will be having a separate section for those that wish to be entrepreneurs, and this might involve professionals from the industries.”

Another major confusion is the major/minor issue which the university is calling “Discipline Course I (one) for major subjects and Discipline Course II (two) for minor subjects.”

If earlier you would have chosen English (Honours) as your subject of study, all you need to do now is choose, “English,” as a Discipline I subject. Unlike the apprehensions held by many, the Discipline I subject starts in the first year itself. In the second year, you choose a Discipline II subject that might or might not be connected to the major subject. There are six papers here and you can choose a maximum of three minor subjects. However, if you choose all six in one subject, it qualifies you to take an MA in that subject.”

In short, the Dean explained: “The four-year degree does not take away anything from the earlier three-year programme itself, it is only more intense at the fourth year which is research oriented, there will be a dissertation required of the student and he or she will be given a mentor for it.”

Faculty training workshops are on their way with an initial bunch of 1,500 teachers trained to tackle the foundation courses. “All the first year classrooms have been e-enabled and we are entering into partnerships with Indian and foreign institutes to bring the best to students. We will be beaming in lectures that are available abroad to our students here,” she said, to a question about how the university would deal with its infrastructure issues.

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