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Updated: April 29, 2013 02:37 IST

How to destroy a university

Jayati Ghosh
Comment (53)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

India’s premier institution of higher education is rushing to change its undergraduate degree without adequate wider consultations

The University of Delhi is perhaps one of the few in the country whose undergraduate degrees still command respect within and outside the country. But all this may change quite rapidly. This enormous institution of nearly half-a-million people is being forced through cataclysmic changes that may have significant impact on its academic credibility.

The main change is this: from July this year (just a few months away), the undergraduate programme will shift from a three-year degree programme to a four-year one, with no more B.A.s or B.Sc.s. Instead, multiple degrees will be offered within a single stream: Associate Baccalaureate (after 2 years), Baccalaureate (3 years), and Baccalaureate with Honours (4 years).

11 foundation courses

Regardless of their previous training or choice of subject, all students will be forced to take 11 foundation courses, which will occupy most of their time in the first two years. These include two courses on “Language, Literature and Creativity” (one in English and the other in Hindi or another Modern Indian Language), “Information Technology,” “Business, Entrepreneurship and Management,” “Governance and Citizenship,” “Psychology, Communication and Life Skills,” “Geographic and Socio-economic Diversity,” “Science and Life,” “History, Culture and Civilisation,” “Building Mathematical Ability” and “Environment and Public Health.”

Obviously, these courses will have to be pitched at a level that can be understood by anyone with a basic school qualification. So the course on, say, “Building Mathematical Ability,” must be comprehensible to a student who has not done Mathematics at the Plus Two level, which would make it too basic to retain the interest of students who have already done it in school. What is the rationale for forcing these relatively basic courses on all students? And who will teach them, given that even the outlines of these courses have still not been made public and are unknown to the college teachers themselves?

After two years, students who have done mostly these courses and five others in some disciplines can leave with an “Associate Baccalaureate” degree. Who will recognise this degree? What kinds of jobs would be suitable? And even after three years (during which students will also be exposed to two non-credit courses on “Integrating Mind, Body and Heart” that will be spread over a full academic year) what would be the worth of the Baccalaureate degree that contains just a few courses specialising in any discipline?

The full four-year programme contains 20 courses in a “major” discipline, six courses in a “minor” discipline, five courses in “Application” (which are supposed to be “skill-based courses that enable employability for students,” with no further details provided) and six courses devoted to “Cultural Activities.” The only choice for students is in terms of major and minor disciplines: thereafter, everything is given. So, contrary to claims, the proposals actually dumb down the programme and reduce the choice of students.

How did the decision for such a momentous change get taken? Throughout most of last year, there was little in the form of discussion, apart from a few stray public statements from the Vice-Chancellor that a four-year undergraduate programme would replace the current three-year course from 2013. No concept papers were circulated by the administration and no feedback was formally sought from any segment of the University. The consultations with “stakeholders” that have been subsequently publicised include an “Academic Congress” in November 2012 that involved around 10,000 specially invited students, teachers and parents in a big jamboree. Obviously no serious discussion was possible there and, in any case, the four-year course was not part of the listed agenda.

Extraordinary meeting

Then, during the university vacations of December 2012, an Extraordinary Meeting of the Academic Council was convened to discuss this — with three days’ notice, and without sending any prior details on the structure of the programme to the Committees of Courses at the Faculties or Departments, or to the Staff Councils of Colleges. Despite low attendance and some dissent, the changes were passed, and the Executive Council passed the scheme on the next working day!

Even then, teachers who would be responsible for handling this programme were still completely in the dark about everything, including the most basic information on what would be its structure. The course structure was announced (without giving any details) in February, but there is still no public document explaining its rationale or providing any kind of elaboration. On March 5, orders were issued to departments to prepare syllabi for the newly announced courses within two weeks — a deadline then extended by another month, but still a ridiculously short time.

On April 20, the Faculty of Social Sciences officially “approved” the new courses for Economics and Political Science, even though the courses were not circulated before the meeting and most of the attendees had left the meeting earlier because they were assured that the university had decided not to consider the courses until April 27. The Registrar’s Press Note making the announcement stated complacently that “the Faculty of Science shall hold its meeting on April 22, where all courses related to the four year programme for the entire gamut of science departments are expected to be granted approval” — and indeed this is what happened.

Anyone who deals in higher education will know that such speed and lack of real discussion seriously undermine even the most minimal academic standards. Incredibly, these massive changes are being forced through without planning for the required additional physical infrastructure or faculty for teaching four cohort years of students rather than three, or even filling up the existing glaring gaps in the system. Currently, around 4,000 teaching posts are vacant, with the work actually being done by ad hoc or “guest” lecturers. The increase in the cost to students and society of funding an extra year of undergraduate studies has not been dwelt upon, nor has it been weighed against the supposed benefits.

Teachers sidelined

It is no wonder that so many faculty members of departments and colleges are up in arms. But those who have raised questions and protested are being threatened and victimised in various ways. Letters by Heads of Departments and even Deans of Faculties expressing concerns are simply ignored. The Teachers’ Association, DUTA, has been sidelined and repressed. Individual faculty members who publicise their views find their life made difficult in various ways, with blatant attempts to threaten or cajole them into silence.

Instead, the university website displays prominently a letter from some senior professors that claims that “for almost two years, thousands of teachers, students and parents have been engagingly consulted in meaningful ways to help in the design and evolution of the proposal for the new undergraduate system of study”. (Clearly this is a group that would benefit from the proposed new course on English language ...). As a parent who meets many students and teachers of this university, I can vouch that this is simply not true!

What is perhaps hardest to understand is the rigid determination and reckless speed with which these drastic changes are sought to be made. Even if the four-year course is to be implemented, why not wait until 2014 to give enough time to develop a proper programme? Even if some collective madness has overtaken those at the helm of affairs in the University of Delhi, can saner voices not prevail? What about the checks and balances in the system that could prevent such extreme measures from being taken with such unseemly haste?

The matter is now urgent. Going about things in this way would make a mockery of undergraduate education in one of the few public universities in India where the degree is still held in some regard. So it seems that the fate of Delhi University is too important to be left to those who currently seem to control it. Anyone who cares about higher education in this country should see what can be done to prevent the reckless destruction of such a significant institution.

(Jayati Ghosh is a professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

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As I grade 10 student, am I appalled at this. They expect the
students, from good institutions, to study basic IT, for a degree in
law? And they get become Associate Baccalaureates?Internships are hard
enough to get. This will seriously reduce the practicality of going to
DU, as you wouldn't study what you're getting a degree in.

When making a comparison to American universities, we must take into
account 2 points, the first being, that only Liberal Arts collages
force such programmes, and only in subject related to the course. A
major in economics will be encouraged to take PPE, but not basic IT.
The second, USA's public higher education isn't rated very high.

Also, I'd love to point out the fact that it's the rigidity and
stability of DU that has been it's saving grace in the past. They
refused to accept unworthy students, and that has certainly paid off.
I beg you to show me how diversity/life skills help an engineer.
This resembles a fascist curriculum.

from:  Aaryaman
Posted on: May 1, 2013 at 15:30 IST

I have been a student of DU, I see this as a very positive move. Why are we always so
reticent about embracing change.

from:  Veena
Posted on: May 1, 2013 at 04:44 IST

A welcome change to have a broad curriculum and a tiered system of
graduation. Finally India seem to get why broad education during
undergraduate period will enhance learning and application of knowledge
gained. Just being a specialist in science will do no one good, unless
they migrate to USA, where get told what they need to create. This is
the reason that despite having bright students that do well in USA, they
have not done well home.

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 10:51 IST

I had the joy of teaching at DU's Shri Ram College of Commerce in the
mid to late 1960s. The university was a vibrant arena of lively debate
and discussion. One of the leftists whom the present regime derides was
Vice Chancellor and dissent thrived. By all accounts, DU is now a case
of "Andher Nagri, Chaupat Raja." What a shame!

from:  Alok Mukherjee
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 06:01 IST

It is a sad news that a prominent educational Instutution like Delhi University has altering its academic programme without any formal consent of either the senior teaching faculty or members of any other academic chairs. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) also have undergraduate courses with some compusory courses like Foundation course in Sceince and Technology, Foundation course in Humanity and Social Science, simultaneously application oriented courses were also their in front of the learner with ample options. They can select according to their interest and ability. By reading this article, I fear to imaging the future of Indian Universities, which are once the Institutions for pursuing excellence in particular discipline. The e text books of Delhi University recommended (earlier academic sessions)for undergraduate study is English is a good indicator of the quality of the study. Please do some things to preserve the academic integrity of our academic institutions.

from:  Appade Rajeevan
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 01:12 IST

What a farce is being enacted in the name of academic restructuring. In the name of imparting holistic education to students , stake holders - students , teachers and alumni etc. cannot discuss the proposed changes in its totality . A spectre of fear threat and secrecy mars this premier university as if it were turned into a concentration camp. No open debate , discussion - just take it from us and fall in line.

from:  n raj
Posted on: Apr 30, 2013 at 00:05 IST

Unfortunately this is happening in all central universities where vice-chancellors do not care for the wider consultations on deciding issues of extreme importance . I think such a major change in a curriculum requires a consultation at the board of studies lwvl of all the departments and colleges.

from:  Mukhtar Ahmad
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 22:43 IST

It is the widespread view in IITs that the Government will be diluting the standard of IITs by adding large numbers of IITs in short timeframe without due consideration whether there are enough teaching staff available. Looks like it is extending similar activities to other universities without thought. From what is happening to IITs, this is not unexpected. It is high time that the Government is led by ministers and politicians who are suitably versed in dealing with educational issues. May God help India!

from:  Dev Ramachandran
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 22:42 IST

May be this scheme is going to be beneficial to the students to compete in the present world, but the question is why it is done in such a hurry burry. Such decisions should be taken carefully.

from:  Renu
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 22:08 IST

The idea that a student must have sound knowledge of basic subjects is a great comittment. But the way Delhi University is planing is not good. A student must learn them at an early stage. Introducing them now is not good because at this stage they are boaring. Students will not take them seriously but as time pass.

from:  Maju Mathew
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 21:08 IST

I had an offer to join Delhi College of Engineering in 2001 but I of course chose to join IIT Bombay. But I knew this for sure that even if I didn't make through JEE, I will get good quality education at DCE. My friends who joined colleges like Lady Srirram and St. Stephens have gone on to great careers in both industry and academia. It's infuriating to read that the only good public university other than IIT is getting undermined due to the whims and fancies of few people.

This issue should be picked up by the media and the changes in the curriculum should be revoked immediately. If the authorities feel the need to change the program, they should do it systematically with due experiementation using pilot courses. There are set ways for this procedure and they should be followed.

from:  Ankush
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 20:39 IST

The university in which I was proud to study and teach us being willfully destroyed by this
mindless and undemocratic and unintellectual move. It's one thing to have four year
programs, one thing to think about how to have students take both general level and
specialized courses across arrange of disciplines, and quite another to evacuate every
course of any substance altogether and IMPOSE these changes on the academic
community. Shame on those who run DU these days, and well written Professor Ghosh!

from:  Ania loomba
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 18:59 IST

There has to be core subjects and principles of graduation as well as extra year for honers. But, it is high time the Indian universities come up with innovative new subjects and courses providing with diverse interests and career choices. It was well and good to have the post war subjects as courses for the time being. It is but ridiculous to stay there and continue the same as the British left it. How many Zoologists the country needs? And, they take up a babu's job after getting such a degree?! The world of science and vocations had moved on and the teaching institutions have to move with it and provide many more of those choices for career seekers. Not only there has to be width in the system but also the depth as well. That means, there has to be world class post graduation courses and necessary amenities to bring out the best out of those brilliant ones who go there.The planners must have clear view of their actions or good intention will turn bad.

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 18:22 IST

Total insenstivity by the VC to the students.Are all those who passed
under three years have no merits?Increasing the job placement fo one
year for whom?Parents to pay additional fee for one year ?Wastage of
university funds for the fourth year infrastructure and teaching posts
!
In 1973 I did BA Hons under 2 years system from Meerut University and
I am not inferior to if not better than any of these so called highly
rated universities in the World.What matters is the quality of
curriculum and teaching standards rather than 4 or 5 years
duration.All should protest and stop this mad adventure being taken up
without any brainstorming.

from:  Prof. Kapil Kumar
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 17:32 IST

Its an one sided article without providing any substantial argument
for the changes intended. What I can see though, that, the main
problem is not the change itself; its the lack of proper
infrastructure and perhaps background study on its implementation
strategy. The writer, Jayati Ghosh has pointed out some worries such
as what would be the future of students? How the teachers will teach?
etc. apart from some issues which are about less transparent process
of change.

I strongly think, change is important in educational sector. The
existing undergrad system is not working properly and needs an
overhaul, as today, we are living in a different learning-working
environment. However, I recon that doing a proper long-term-
consequence analysis and infrastructural assessment would surely help
this changes.

This is perhaps a common problem in India,that we start everything
with a boom, and then its fades away so quickly, because of poor
planning or implementation strategy.

from:  sayantan
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 16:23 IST

The students have perpetually been the conspicuous victims of
irresponsible decisions taken by University managements. While the
relevant sections of the educational institutions fight over what the
students benefit from, with students generally lacking any clear
input in the decision making, the uncertainty takes a toll on the
student's future, the very pivot of the issue.
An obvious role of University pass-outs and the seniors is seldom
accounted for, ignoring the valuable input that may be available from
them, having seen the shortcomings and positives of the contemporary
system in their social and professional lives. I therefore intend to
highlight that the squabbling among the teachers and management shall
go in vain unless the collective role of the authorities including
the seniors is incorporated.

from:  nitesh chaudhary
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 15:28 IST

Students who come to the University with +2 qualifications, intending to go for their desired subjects to be speacialised in, will be annoyed by this decision. Quality of education in India is already a great concern; there prevails disarray in the entire sector due to privatisation and its arbitrary commercialization, and unevenness in the availability of opportunities between those who graduate with ‘ready-to-be recruited’ degrees in the private business schools and institutes and those who were taught in the government universities and colleges. These changes in the DU will destroy the uniformity in the University system; even if other Indian universities recognised such degrees, what about European universities? Prof. Jayati Ghosh raises a valid question - “What is the rationale for forcing these relatively basic courses on all students?”. Perhaps, the Government’s idea is to produce a huge ‘work force’ (degree holders) with basic techniques and mathematical skills to meet the 50 % Foreign Direct Investment required for the consumer market.

from:  A.Kannan
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 15:23 IST

Its biggest step taken by any university of India. I want to question the concerned author how many more years are being required by the so called academicians to change the structure of the syllabus..
Its consultations and committees that inhibit in taking crucial decisions
Moreover it will set precedent for other universities of India...Let face the music the current so-called elite academicians...who have done nothing but spoiled the whole academic environment...

from:  Anand Sharma
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 14:58 IST

IIT KGP and some others (at least at my time) had a completely common course for the first one year; the purpose was to allow students to change their stream, if their grades were good enough at the end of the first year. Is this going to be allowed in the new DU semester system?

from:  Abheek Saha
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 14:40 IST

I think the article is written more in anger and frustration than providing any critique of the measures. I think the author feels that her view point were not considered in finalizing the changes. I dont think any of the changes are based, based on my reading of this letter. Much of the world has 4 years bachelors degree programs, and infact outside universities dont recognize 3 years degree program for outside education. I think the course contents then accordingly needs to adjusts for a 4 years degree program. The author should cool down and think critically what he is trying to say, and where he thinks the new system has weaknesses. Just complaining is not going to solve the problem, if there is any.

from:  Kaka D
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 14:35 IST

I thank "The Hindu" for taking interest in this issue as it always did
in the past. Things should be put in the comprehensive perspective.
There nothing called right or wrong these are consequences of our
actions. Similarly there could not be completely appropriate or
inappropriate changes in our university education system. There should
be a debate, discourse but that debate should not be started with left
high handedness "How to destroy a University" caption of an opinion.
This article shows authoritative ideas of a former member of
National Knowledge Commission and brings cliched arguments on courses
based on employablity quotient and recognizablity or programs.
This is really in bad taste, we have to move on, welcome the changes
and discuss them on their relative merit. These academicians, should
take responsibility of squalor condition of universities in India, and
answer the students with humility.

from:  Aditya Samdershi
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:54 IST

I read this article many times and found the move of DU to be good. Though the author can have her opinions, She must weigh the positive things as well. Change is the most difficult thing for us. The quality, what the author believes is more "academic" than genuine. We have a renowned economist ( he was also a Prof in DU) who is but a failed PM. We have Oxford graduated Education minister who has lead to general fall of academic institutions. By the way, just relate the following to how much the academic quality matters
Our FM is a "LAW" graduate, Our Law Minister is some graduate but certainly not "LAW", Our leader of the government is "NO graduate", Our potential PM has not seen a college of higher education.
Bihar, home to first modern university had Rabri Devi as CM, who could not spell her name in any language.
Bengal, who "thinks ahead of others" "repeatedly elected" communist government. Can DU or JNU teach these people to "Apply" what you learn.

from:  Ram Krishna
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:51 IST

Whatever cosmetic change DU brings, it will never be able to raise the
quality of education. The internal politics in the departments have
converted it into a market place of degrees rather than a centre of
excellence. The faculty chambers are storehouses of nepotism,
regionalism and favouritism. As an institution, it is an intellectual
void. It is high time it is disbanded from the status of a central
university. As a nation, we do not have an obligation to keep paying
out of our pockets for institutions that do not add value to the
society. We have an obligation to continuously assess their
performance and try to move out the funds to some other place.

I agree with the author on all counts.

from:  Sridip Surendran
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:39 IST

Article written by the author discusses 2 issues regarding undergraduate degree in DU
1) New courses introduced irrespective of previous training or choice of subject.
2) The manner in which these changes were incorporated in the curriculum.
It is accepted that the process involved in making this changes were not democratic. They were implemented with haste and no wide consultation was made.
But the new curriculum was introduced seeming to improve all round personality of a student. Subjects mentioned by the author, if implemented in true sense will help a student to face future challenges. World as we knew is changing rapidly and it in order to sustain in this competitive world we have to create skilled professionals who can lead this country in the path of success.

from:  Madhav
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:29 IST

It seems that for the first two year they are providing Civil service (IAS) exam
coaching to students. May be Delhi's high board percentage students are not getting
through this, so they have decided to start the UPSC syllabus in initial two year.

from:  aman
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:29 IST

Its so much embarassing to see that none of our universities have been placed in the top 100, or even 200. But so many of our students are doing research and other related stuffs in foreign universities. Clearly this is a case where students are not getting value for their money in Indian universities. With the proposed changes, the DU is trying to be at par with their foreign peers, by adopting a method of system that is prevalent in most of the under graduate courses through out the recognized universities in the world. But the way in which it is passed, that the author mentions in this article should be taken in to account. It should be in a transparent way with consensus from all the relevant and apt groups.

from:  Vinod
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 13:08 IST

The author is not saying that change shouldnt be made, she is just saying that before making any changes it should first be discussed with the concerned parties. Just because US has a 4-yr degree course doesnt mean we have to do that too! Our 3-yr courses can be made better too! Teachers dont have time to teach the 3-yr course, what makes the people think(all in favor of this change!) they'll be eager to teach the 1yr extra class! It's just waste of money for an extra yr!
And just because someone had to take maths after studying humanities and could do so doesnt mean anyone else has to do that. You are worried about not having maths as a subject, take maths in +2 and if not you can always take that as an additional subject, no need to change the structure for the worst! Providing grades instead of marks doesnt help the kids! They'll have to face the competition later what do you think will happen then! So help them prepare for it, dont hide them behind stupid rules!

from:  Varu
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:49 IST

I agree with the author. She is not against change or the content of the change, but slip-shod manner in which the whole new scheme is introduced with a steam-roller. I believe the level at which changes are sought to be introduced is very basic and affects entrants to university education who have just completed the school. Better approach would be to circulate the draft scheme amongst major stake-holders, experts and eminent educationists at least one year before it is sought to be placed for approval of the academic bodies. Above all we should not be dogmatic in higher education but open to wide academic discourse.

from:  Prof K C Mehta
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:40 IST

One would have appreciated the author more if she wrote it from the perspective of what higher education is and what purpose it aims to fulfil. Merely criticising the processes or procedures involved in arriving at the DU's decision can hardly signal a serious engagement with the topic. Jobs in public sector undertakings are trivial when the demographic details are considered. Moreover, with government becoming more vigorous in offloading public investments to private hands - as part of state policy - legal hurdles should never be seen as yardstick to higher education. A 16-year education profile helps in qualifying many students for research oriented courses abroad. Additionally, this new scheme is a mechanism to orient education from demand side. Online MOOCs like coursera which have proven to be highly successful in delivering free education to needy people have already started driving established institutions like MIT in search of funds to sustain its traditional model.

from:  CK Raju
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:17 IST

These changes seem to be done to make sure Foreign Universities can have level playing field when they come to India. When they will come, they will have brand name(marked by word US) and hefty fees. If DU continues with 3 year course, no body will go for foreign universities in India. One more FDI in making and obviously one more bending done by latest generation of Macaulay.

from:  Sachin
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:02 IST

University reputation is not decided by the quality of its curriculum but by the quality of its alumni. Interdisciplinary education is the talk of the day these times. Interdisciplinary education imparts the students with unique ability to connect the dots in a better way than their peers.Hence, the decision of Delhi university to incorporate interdisciplinary education is worth a warm welcome.

In any case the career prospects of any individual are influenced by his network and the skill building process that he carries throughout his life.Hence pin pointing the quality of university curriculum is a worthless exercise.

Statistics show that a bachelors degree in humanities does not fetch jobs in today's globalised market. Hence, it is necessary for such courses to reinvent themselves. DU's revamp in curriculum is certainly a step in that direction.

from:  Vaibhav
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 12:02 IST

The point raised might be valid, but it seems as though the author
has raised issues more in a political purview. The basis of the
rationale should more be on the 'real' impact of the reforms on the
quality of the education imparted and its impact on the growth of
students and the faculty.

from:  Swapnil Gupta
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 11:57 IST

The author is pointing out the reality. I am a VICTIM of DU's sick
semester system.

People misunderstood the author ... author is not against the change
but she is putting some lights how these changes are implemented .

Just because US has 4 years graduate course we should mock them ?

There should be proper planning in making the syllabus ,course
structure and guidelines for teachers , Ctrl-c + Ctrl-V from foreign
University won't work anymore.

Deepak Pental ruined the Undergraduate Courses now Dinesh Singh is
ruining whatever good was left.

kudos to the author for daring to write something like this which is
actually highlighting the problems of DU.

from:  Kabir Shandilya
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 11:46 IST

Considering all the pros and cons of the new programme, I feel that its better only.. I'm a 12th class commerce student who aspires to get admission in DU for BA Eco., but most of the top colleges ask for compulsory maths at +2 level to fall in the eligibility crieria and as a matter of fact I've not done that.. So, the multiple degree programme is a boon to me where I'd be able take economics atleast as a minor.. And I feel that this can be a case with many others..
About the foundation courses, they are just basics, so they dont seem to pose a big problem for any student..

from:  prasoon agrawal
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 11:07 IST

This is a brilliant move by the DU management. Our education system is of British Days. We need more employable workforce who can accommodate themselves with requirement of the industry. All the eleven subjects will increase the awareness and employability of students. It is a win-win situation for students and industry. Introduction of mathematical ability will enhance their employability skills and social and political aspects in college level for two years will enhance the outlook of the student that will help them to be a more responsible citizen. Nowadays it is very difficult for today’s young generation to keep-in-touch with social and political movement that is happening in the country.

from:  Atul Kumar
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 11:04 IST

Some of us as readers note a bias in this critical appraisal of the DU missives. Some
others would not fail to note an anxiety thereof which refers to very fundamental of
education. Most importantly, Ghosh's take invites us to recognize the (un)becoming
of an anti-teacher and anti-student university. The bias, therefore, is not in the
criticism; it is rather in the design of the so called transformation of DU to serve the
vested interests of the chosen few located somewhere else far removed from
academia. Can one justify the vice chancellor walking with bouncers who punch
anybody (teachers) who dare asking questions! The instance may appear peripheral
and the acts of punching may be called nonissue. But they reveal the mindset
underlying the acts of altering DU. in sum, in the new avatar DU would be a factory
of workers who would be called, just for convenience sake, teachers and students!

from:  dev pathak
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 10:37 IST

In this long article, the author failed to outline any big problem. US has 4 year
college and if anything, they are the best in the world. Delhi University does not
figure in the top 200 world institutions, nearly half of which have 4 year undergrad
degree. The DU professors have also tried to stop the assessment of their own
academic work using this excuse or the other. Basically, the public pay for their
50000+ salary, profs spend less than 20 hours on the job, students are
unemployable after degree, and there is no accountability. Sorry, but we deserves
better. What the author mentions are all teethings problems. If doesnt point to any
fundamental problem that deserves a big-headline OpEd in Hindu. She also does
not mention the margin by which DU's Academic Council passed this 4-year
program. Are all the pandits those who did not attend the meeting? Students want
value for money.

from:  Abraham
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 10:22 IST

Truly said by author, the reckless and rampant speed at which the
decision has made to implement such big change speculate loopholes in
the new undergraduate program moreover government should should
intervene in this matter as soon as possible to prevent the prestigious
university converted into stagnant garbage.

from:  Deependra Tyagi
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 10:21 IST

Our whole education system is so much outdated .Its really sad such type
of measures will spoil our premier universities.Why we have to study
subjects which are of no use in our future.God knows what will
happen.nice article

from:  Akash Chauhan
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 10:18 IST

The criticism in this article is made up of hysteresis that we, in India, face in nearly all facets of our public life. Any change has to be `properly discussed' and all objections must be `duly addressed'; if not, our sensibilities and sensitivities are violated. Is the author unaware of free education being imparted over internet by various top universities of the world? Is she unaware that nearly all the generally accepted theories of all social sciences have become redundant? I fail to see who can benefit from such a change. Yes, indeed, the teachers who have not updated their knowledge would feel threatened. I think Ms. Jayanti Ghosh is too astute a teacher not to see this.

from:  Mukesh Adenwala
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 10:06 IST

Why should the students who chose their specializations after their 10th
std, should study all the basic courses again after 12th std. Doesn't it
seem to be ridiculous?

from:  Venkat Hosur
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 09:55 IST

Always any CHANGE is met with OPPOSITION by a sector in the system. Unfortunately,in our country,what one VC does during his tenure is "undone" by the next VC where real progress in the system takes a back seat. Currently only around 25% of engineering graduates and around 15% other graduates are getting jobs, and rest are attributed to lack of basic skills/knowledge by employers.Our Edu system is more British type and now moving towards American way. HOPEFULLY, a 4Yr GRAD program will help to increase "competency/knowledge level" of pass outs there by will strengthen the country's Manpower with MORE knowledge based workers. Another CHANGE is required at the School level [including 12th]. We need to STOP the bifurcation into science/commerce other streams at 9thStd level! and provide a BASIC knowledge of ALL fields!. Then at 4Yr Grad entry may chose which stream one would like to take his/life further.All will then be MATHS literate up to 12th which will EMPOWER them to take DECISIONS

from:  Dr B S Sudhindra
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 09:39 IST

To me, with the JNU kind of education, we will continue to defy inclusive,
expansive, employment, access, equity objectives of our country. If one asks,
what has been JNU’s net contribution over last 60 years in terms of innovation,
action-research, employment generation, building ethical standards, cultivating
moral values, developing cultural heritage, creating harmony in the society,
building patriotism or reducing poverty or inequality or illiteracy; the answer
would be quite disquieting in knowing the colossal waste of the resources of
the country, in other words promoting pseudo intellectualism.
The much needed academic reform based on ‘Holistic education' of DU is,
perhaps, going to outweigh JNU’s design of perpetuating the age-old
‘opium of the masses’ culture.
The furor and vociferous campaign against DU reform testifies the intellectual
hegemony of JNU. This shows how fearful such academic monarchs are about
tumbling down of of their empire.

from:  T.K.Mishra
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 08:56 IST

Such a carelessness at this level is unacceptable, proper consultation and research is utmost important. These changes must be implemented considering the value, culture and excellence carried by DU for ages. We hope the university have much needed infrastructure and people at place even they want to execute these changes. With changing society there is a demand to change the education system, but it has to start from the bottom and universities which are already doing good must be spared from such change at this hour, even there is a need the infrastructure must be at place to support the desired changes. Perhaps we are going too fast with these wishes and we need proper consultation and data for further move. Wish our undergraduate the very best.

from:  Jai
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 08:50 IST

I think this is a totally biased article, hardly reflects people's
views. It is just opposed by a lobby of teachers, who just want to have
great time being a teacher, everyone knows what happens in even the best
of colleges...students want this change. Just bring any student who will
oppose it except for the youth wings who have just got a point against
the authorities. Even in terms of an article this is pathetic, using
multiple negative words in one sentence,makes it so irritating. Don't
vent out own problems in a public platform whatever you may have.

from:  gaurav
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 08:38 IST

The Story is same in almost all the Indian Universities.The reasns are not far to seek (1) Politicians appoint VCs for reasons other than merit.And these VCs ensure no teacher who would overshadow him is appointed. (2) Politicians make the varsities the battle ground for their nefarious purposes. (3) VCs being mostly men of straw, with few honourable eceptions, lack vision and competence to run an institution of higer learning.(4) Teachers are apointed on grounds other than oustanding merit. The best are not appointed even reserved categories. Hence, the only things 'high' in higher education are high salaries, grace marks to students to but peace on campus, bunking of classes by students and teachers. We find revolution by Grace Marx!!

from:  Dr V Nageswara Rao
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 08:24 IST

No views from alumni were sought while these decisions were made. Are students, parents and teachers the only constituencies from which the university thinks it needs to solicit inputs? If the university loses its reputation, it is alumni who bear the brunt - unlike prospective students, we can no longer pick another degree in our resumes.

from:  S D Troller
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 07:57 IST

Rest assured.approach the court of last resort.katju and co will do it.or a PIL before
delhi high court can be the first resort.obviously some where along the lines for such
dramatic policy changes some procedure must have been ignored.that woulld suffice
to stall or stay it.judicial over reach is the norm and obviously courts are not seeking
it.

from:  n.vijayaraghavan
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 06:44 IST

In one sense, the proposed changes appear to aim at inculcating the aptitude for and "ability
(of the students) to live within the structure of our civic institutions" (Plyler v. Doe, US
Supreme Court), but that is a generous reading. However, as the author says, the unseemly
haste makes one suspect the bonafides of the move, with no effort at democratic decision
making and creating the necessary infrastructure. The article could have mentioned the
plausible reasons for such slap dash efforts. Lastly, the writer talking as a parent introduces
another critical dimension.

Thank the author for this wide ranging primer to engender meaningful discussions.

from:  Raghuram Ekambaram
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 06:11 IST

While the implementation issues are certainly important, no one can
possibly argue that the new Delhi University education model is a
fantastic, must-have improvement over the moribund, ossified,
discredited nonsense that passed for tertiary education previously. I
have full faith in the intelligence of the youth of India, who, once
freed from their "elders" and their luddite views, can accomplish far
more with this liberal arts education, than these elders and their
"lost generation" ever accomplished in life. There will be teething
issues of course, as there are with any new endeavour, but the
strategy is absolutely on the right track, and this change must be
rammed down everyone's throats if required. In India, meaningful
change is only possible when you take away all options to avoid it.

This opinion comes from a graduate of a top US liberal arts college,
and someone who studied complex math in grad school after doing a
humanities undergrad. If I can do it, anyone can.

from:  B. Rohith
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 04:08 IST

Very strong and unexpected changes ...
Foundation courses ... ??? “Language, Literature and Creativity” (one
in English and the other in Hindi or another Modern Indian Language),
“Information Technology,” “Business, Entrepreneurship and Management,”
“Governance and Citizenship,” “Psychology, Communication and Life
Skills,” “Geographic and Socio-economic Diversity,” “Science and
Life,” “History, Culture and Civilisation,” “Building Mathematical
Ability” and “Environment and Public Health.” ... ???
more wastage of time for students, best spent procrastinating.

from:  Dwaipayan Adhya
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 03:30 IST

This proposal of 4 year undergraduate program in DU has to be treated with great
concern. Since this program seems to have support from poiltical bosses, there is
a great danger this proposal may be implemented in other universities in course
of time.

The foundation courses in the first year is a full waste of students time.
The students will find it difficult to get back to their major subjects ,with a gap of
one year.What purpose does this two year exit offer?Has this “Associate
Baccalaureate” degree been approved by UGC? Has the 4 year degree has been
recognised by UGC?
Apart from not having enough discussions, this proposal by itself is totally flawed.
I completely share the concerns of the author and the other fraternity of DU.

from:  M.Sivakumar
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 02:21 IST

On a separate note, I don't understand this constant focus in the
media and Indian society at large that the "University of Delhi is
perhaps one of the few in the country whose undergraduate degrees
still command respect within and outside the country". Where from
stems this arrogance? Madras University - with Madras Christian
College and Loyola - as examples have had a wealth of noted alumni and
are institutions of enormous repute down south. Numerous students from
just these two establishments (let alone universities like Calcutta
and Bombay) have students heading to the finest institutions abroad
every year to pursue Master's programs or doctorates. If indeed the
gap between DU and the rest is this wide, shouldn't the focus be about
bringing back parity between national universities instead of harping
about how and why DU stands out? Worry less about four-year degrees
and look at Facebook confessions pages if you'd like to have a glimpse
of India's best and supposedly brightest.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Apr 29, 2013 at 02:02 IST
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