Investing four years to earn a simple degree when you can get a professional degree elsewhere for the same amount of time or an equivalent degree in three years is no easy decision to make. Yet, this is not the strongest critique that the four-year course has invited from Delhi University’s own faculty who say that the additional year is only the beginning of the new structure’s problems.
Infrastructure is the main issue with such sceptics who insist the university’s classrooms are straining with too many students. The university claims: “First year classrooms have been made e-enabled so that we can beam in lectures,” and other claims like providing every student with a free laptop will just not do, insist these teachers.
“Many of the classrooms are strained with the colleges not able to expand because they do not have municipal approvals. Now with these special foundation classes, they will be even more strained. Sometime ago, the university sent computers to the colleges where the labs did not have the space to accommodate them,” said Physics teacher Abha Dev Habib, who has been part of the opposition to the four-year structure from the beginning.
Delhi University’s claims that the new foundation courses are intended for students to be able to cope with daily life, that the “building mathematical ability” foundation course was to help give them that basic training needed to be able to read bank statements and data has also not convinced its teachers nor the common public at the university’s ‘open house’. “The number of students to come for under-graduate studies is smaller in comparison with those who study up to the primary or school level courses. It is not for a university to give you skills to cope with daily life or what is so general in nature…it is left to the school. You come to college to develop those subjects that you are good at or what you like; nowhere in the world are foundation courses like this made compulsory,” said a senior Professor.
The university’s claim that these foundation courses will make the students employable in two years’ time and more employable in general has also piqued the opponent’s of the change to FYUP. “The industry is so diverse; it is not for a university to train students to work in one particular industry. These are not vocational or professional colleges to train students for one particular field. A university deals with liberal arts and sciences and we have to help them develop analytical skills, and it is also the duty of the university to create the next generation of educators for the school, college, and undergraduate and research level. A company can train our students for six months to suit their needs, but only a university can take responsibility to train them for jobs that get created in the future,” added Ms. Habib.
She said the “Academic Congress,” where a few industrialists had declared the students not equipped for jobs with them could not be taken at face value to change the whole structure, especially since they had to rely wholly on the claims of the university. “No minutes of this meeting are available,” she added.