Delhi University, the biggest in India, recently introduced the Four Year Undergraduate Program (referred as FYUP) in its curriculum. The FYUP has received immense criticism from various quarters. Many see it as hastily implemented, while others plainly discard it off by saying that it is being modeled in accordance to the west and will merely make education more elitist.
While, personally I don’t agree with the FYUP, the objective of this article is not to criticize or glorify the program but to rather highlight the salient features and the criticisms that has been meted towards the program. And this is being essentially because no matter what has been the response from media, intelligentsia, and university officials’ etc. students continue to buy forms and apply to the University.
Some of the features of the program are:-
- The first essential feature of the FYUP is the introduction of Foundation Course, where a student will have to study various compulsory papers in Maths, English, Information Technology, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Management, Governance and Citizenship, Philosophy, Psychology, Communication and Life Skills. These courses are expected to provide an interdisciplinary education to students with an emphasis on employability.
- The FYUP also offers multiple exit points. Students will now have the option of leaving after two years with a diploma, after three years with a Bachelor’s degree and after four years with a Bachelor’s degree with honors.
- A student who exits after two years with a diploma will have to study only 8 papers from their core/ main discipline. The remaining 20 courses will be compulsory, extremely basic, mostly school-level (the foundation courses).
- Likewise if the student chooses to complete the three year Bachelor degree, s/he will merely study 14 main discipline courses. The remaining 28 courses will be an wild assortment of applied courses, subsidiary courses, cultural activities, and school-level foundation courses. S/he can also could enter a Masters programme in any of their core subjects
- In the same manner, The student who completes all four years and obtains a Bachelor (Hons) degree will have to do 50 courses – of which only 20 will be from his/her core discipline. The remaining 30 courses will be applied courses, cultural activities, subsidiary courses and school-level foundation courses. Though it has not been implemented yet, if such a student wishes to do an MA, DU could let them do a “one-year MA” on the basis of ‘credit transfers’ of the 4th year of FYUP.
The FYUP is being lauded as very academically rigor program which will enable the students to earn more employment. The DU officials claim that by offering multiple exit points, the students will be able to adhere into various forms of jobs in the market. Attached herewith are some very relevant criticisms of the FYUP program:-
- Many believe that the new Foundation Courses are problematic. They opine that Students taking these courses will learn a set of facts that will be outdated nearly as soon as they leave the classroom. But more importantly, they will lack that deepest promise of a liberal education: the ability to seek and assess knowledge independently because they have been given the conceptual tools to do so. Also the foundation courses are very basic and will offer no relevant jobs in the Indian Market.
- Many also see it as an introduction of caste system in education, essentially because a student who drops out after two years can never compete with the one with an honors degree which puts the students from oppressed sections with a disadvantage, coz almost 30% of students in DU drop out every year. And out of the 30% majority belong to socially and economically vulnerable sections.
- Some also see that doing a year extra to attain an honors degree in DU will put the students on backfoot as other university students will get it within 3 years.
- All with four years education, the education becomes more expensive, thereby pushing it further away from the underprivileged sections.
- The FYUP just offers exit points but does not actually take note of the reasons to students drop out. Rather than offering exit points, DU should have made education more accessible to the vulnerable sections. For instance by offering more scholarships and subsidized education.
- The FYUP will also lead to erosion of learning and teaching. Under the previous three year programme, all students had to write three assignments and one project per paper, allowing them to develop greater analytical and research skills. In the new FYUP, students will not be required to submit even one written assignment; instead, they will have one group class presentation per course. In such a situation, how is any student going to be able to develop abilities in analysis or research. Also the total number of teaching weeks has been reduced from 16 to 14. Where in the old system, per unit there would be 2 classes a week as well as tutorials, in the new scheme there will be only 1 class per unit per week.
Compiled from various internet sources