Decoding four-year UG programme slated to be introduced by Delhi University In a major development for students, Delhi University (DU) is once again going to introduce a four year undergraduate programme (FYUP) with the NEP Implementation Committee (NIC) suggesting an overhaul to align the course with the National Education Policy 2020. The key feature of the four-year undergraduate programme is that Students can now opt for a four-year undergraduate course with the final year earmarked for multi-disciplinary research and dissertation, besides multiple exit points as suggested by the NIC. Now, the multiple exit points may sound ‘odd’ but this may soon be a reality adding flexibility to the four-year undergraduate programme. e.g., a certificate after completing 1 year in a discipline or field, or a diploma after 2 years of study, or a Bachelor ’s degree after a 3-year programme and finally, after 4 years, students will get honours degree. NEP has also proposed a multidisciplinary approach with courses involving ‘hobbies’ in the first semester and ethics & culture in the fourth semester. Now, let’s understand what does the NEP say about the 4 year UG programme? NEP lays a great deal of focus on making Higher Education Institutions flexible and multidisciplinary. Another revolutionary feature proposed is the option of taking a break whereby students can ‘take a break’ midway and come back later. It is proposed to form an ‘Academic Bank of Credit’. Under this, the credits earned by students at the end of every even semester or academic year, would be stored in a DigiLocker. Another first in India, this would allow the students to let’s say take a break after second year and within a stipulated time period join back again in third year. Currently, there is no such provision to ‘take a break’. In such a case, a student has to start afresh. However, it must be noted that this is just a proposal and the final decision will be taken after being cleared by the statutory bodies, as per the university rules. Course curriculum as proposed First semester is proposed to have a new course named ‘hobby’ and one general skill course. That will be accompanied by two major courses and one minor course. A course on environmental study will be added in the second semester. A course on language will be added in the third semester and ethics/culture in the fourth semester. Students are required to study two languages and one of these would have to be an Indian language. In the fifth and sixth semesters, students will get to focus on major and minor subjects. In the seventh and eight semesters, they will get to study two major discipline specific elective (DSE) papers and one minor paper. Along with that, they would have two options to complete the honours degree. In option first - students would write a dissertation for a Minor course in semester seven, along with a dissertation on a Major subject in semester eight and in option second – they would do a thesis or an internship in semester seven and eight. NEP also recommends that students will be provided with opportunities for internships with local industry, businesses, artists, crafts persons, etc., as well as research internships with faculty and researchers at their own or other institution/research institutions. While major emphasis has been laid on adopting a holistic approach while adding flexibility but still there opposing views on this development. Let’s try to understand the opposing view as well. Why the opposition? Before we delve further, it must be remembered that the University had introduced the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) in 2014. However, it had to be scrapped the same year owing to massive protests by the students and teachers. Certain groups of teachers are of the opinion that the option of multiple exit points would give an illusion of choice leading to increased drop-outs, especially among economically underprivileged sections. They also feel that the system proposed would dilute the core subjects and would add a great amount of stress. Way forward The recommendations will be presented before the Academic Council and the Standing Committee, and the University aims to implement it by the next academic session. The introduction of a multi-disciplinary programme is aimed at capacity building from the perspective of making students more employable. Apart from that students will also pursue social and emotional learning, which will include community service in its curriculum. A revolutionary approach in higher education in India, this was bound to have caused ripples in the academic circles with mixed views. However, it would be appropriate to take feedback from all stakeholders – teachers and students before implementing it.
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