The Delhi University’s academic council (AC) on Wednesday passed with dissent the coursework and syllabi for the first semester of various undergraduate courses as part of the four year undergraduate programme (FYUP) that will be introduced from the current academic session (2022-23).
The AC, which has over 100 members, passed the agenda — with at least seven members dissenting — after a discussion on the recommendations by the standing committee of academic affairs formed earlier this year to deliberate on syllabi, coursework, and various facets of the admission process.
The agenda will now require a final stamp of approval from the university’s executive council (EC), which is scheduled to meet next on August 18.
DU registrar Vikas Gupta said the syllabi, coursework, and other proposals on the agenda were passed by the AC. “Everything on the agenda was passed. Seventeen more SECs (skill enhancement course) were added to the existing pool of courses, taking the total to 43. It was also decided that there will be no age criteria for the competence enhancement scheme (CES) as part of which anyone will be able to enrol for DU courses,” said Gupta.
SEC courses are skill-based courses in all disciplines and are aimed at providing hands-on training, competencies, and skills to students.
CES is a new scheme which will enable students from other universities and even employed individuals to pursue certificate courses at DU, which was also approved by AC on Wednesday.
Admission to DU colleges from this year will be based on the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) scores. Students will be admitted into revamped course frameworks in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) and the FYUP. Delhi University EC, the highest decision-making body of the varsity, approved the undergraduate curriculum framework (UGCF) 2022 in February this year and the curriculum framework outlines 176 credits for a four-year Honours degree and 132 credits for a three-year degree along with a provision of multiple entries and exits.
At least seven elected council members recorded their dissent against the framing of syllabi only for the first semester. In their dissent note, members outlined that the adoption of courses on the basis of syllabi of first semester papers was “unacademic”. The value of a degree cannot be understood until the entire framework, coursework, syllabi and scheme of evaluation for the duration of the programme is known, members said.
“Admission of a student is to a course. It is the right of the students to know the coursework, syllabi and evaluation scheme before they take admission. And the House is being asked to give sanction to these Certificate/Diploma/ Degree programmes only on the basis of syllabi of papers to be offered in the first semester,” the dissent note stated.
“Over 70,000 students will suffer because of this un-academic and hurried exercise through which the University of Delhi is trying to claim implementation of FYUP. We urge the House to review its decision to implement undergraduate courses based on UGCF,” stated the dissent note.
However, the standing committee’s proposal to grant blanket authorisation to the vice-chancellor to notify modifications in syllabi and courses was dropped after teachers raised concerns.
Naveen Gaur, AC member, said, “The vice-chancellor said he was not keen on acquiring any such veto power after we raised concerns. The point was dropped from the agenda. The VC assured us that there will be another meeting in September before the initiation of the first semester to tackle concerns regarding some courses. More courses will also be added.”
The elected teacher representatives of the AC from the teacher groups — Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) and the Indian National Teachers’ Congress (INTEC) — asked DU to intervene in the issue pertaining to the delayed release of funds for 12 DU colleges that are fully funded by the Delhi government.
Teachers sought absorption of all ad hoc and temporary teachers and implementation of maternity leave in colleges. Regularisation of computer science and other courses running in the self-financing mode was also sought.
“The V-C directed all principals present to immediately send the university the proposal for making all self-financing courses regular,” said a statement signed by DTF members Rajesh Kumar, Biswajit Mohanty, and Mithuraaj Dhusiya.
The representatives also sought the inclusion of elected teacher representatives in the committee formed by the DU to look into the teacher-student ratio and size of tutorials/practicals.
Dissenting members of the AC also raised concerns about value addition courses (VAC). These are a “common pool of courses offered by different disciplines and aimed towards personality building, and encouraging Indian knowledge systems, scientific temperament, communication skills, creative writing, and teamwork” among students. These will be separate from the regular coursework.
Members said various disciplines were not covered under the VAC and the courses proposed discouraged critical thinking. They appeared to invoke the Indic civilisation sans its linguistic and epistemological pluralism, the dissenting members noted.
Besides the coursework and syllabi, the AC also approved the proposal for the initiation of an MS (orthodontics and dento-facial orthopaedics) courses with an intake of two students a year at the University College of Medical Sciences from this academic year.
Earlier during the day, student groups such as All India Students Association and Students’ Federation of India staged a demonstration outside the V-C office seeking a roll-back of the recent fee hike and purported exclusionary policies of NEP and FYUP.