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‘Diluted’ degrees, learning loss, worse job prospects — why DU teachers’ body is against FYUP

In a letter to UGC, Democratic Teachers’ Front, an organisation of DU educators, argues that Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) could set both students and teachers back.

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New Delhi: The draft guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC) on the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP), released last month, have been heavily criticised by the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), a body of Delhi University educators.

In its written feedback to the UGC, the teachers’ body has argued that the FYUP will detract from students’ learning and prospects since the first three semesters will be devoted to common “foundational courses”, with core papers only being introduced in the fourth semester.

Speaking to ThePrint, Nandita Narain, president of the teachers’ body and a professor of mathematics at St. Stephen’s College, stressed that “lukewarm common modules” added to students’ burden but failed to add value.

The FYUP will also, the DTF said, put the “burden” of another year of education on undergraduates and their parents and also negatively impact ad hoc contract teachers.

“The UGC cannot implement mindless restructuring which sacrifices students’ and teachers’ good,” the feedback letter, dated 4 April, said.

DU’s new four-year undergraduate programme is set to be implemented from the academic year 2022-23, and has been touted by the UGC as offering flexibility to move between disciplines and having multiple entry-exit options.

It has found support among DU vice-chancellors (VC) too.

While former DU acting vice-chancellor P.C. Joshi said the new programme was designed to be “student-centric, multi-disciplinary and holistic”, incumbent V-C Yogesh Singh stated that it offers students “a chance of gaining holistic education… with multiple entry and exit options and flexibility of selecting from a wide array of courses”.

The draft UGC guidelines were open to feedback from teachers, students and subject experts until 4 April.

Also Read: 8 semesters, 160 credit-hours: What Four-Year Undergraduate Programme approved by UGC looks like

Students could end up with ‘mere paper degrees’, teachers’ body says

The FYUP offers qualifications based on the number of years studied — a certificate for one year completed, a diploma for two, and a choice between a three- or four-year honours course. The four-year course includes an additional year of research.

This structure is flawed, the feedback letter said, because the one- and two- year courses could land students with “mere paper degrees with no market value in terms of employability”. The three-year degree could also lead to graduates “being treated like dropouts” because they did not complete the full four years.

In addition to this, the teachers also argued that though a fourth year has been added for research, there has been no mention of additional funding for universities to facilitate this.

The Draft Curriculum Framework and Credit System (CFCS) for FYUP allocates various credit requirements for certifications. One of the criticisms of the teachers’ body is that these represent a “significant reduction” from the current requirements for a three-year undergraduate degree.

Counting the number of credits allocated to core subject papers in the new system under FYUP, in four years, “the student will earn only 66 credits in the chosen discipline (inclusive of core courses, research methodology, and research) out of a total of 160 credits”, the letter said.

This is problematic, it added, since it gives only 41 per cent weight to a student’s major discipline.

If a student opts for a three-year degree course, they will “only earn 48 credits out of 130”, which accounts for only 36.9 per cent of the programme.

This is much less in comparison to the existing three-year honours courses, where out of 148 credits, a minimum of 108 are earned in the core discipline. Additionally, the student may also earn up to eight extra credits, which makes it a total of 116 in the major discipline. Overall, the core discipline at present accounts for 72 to 78 per cent of credits.

‘Burden of common modules’

The letter drew attention to a similar four-year undergraduate programme that was implemented in DU in 2013, but was discontinued within a year of the Narendra Modi government coming to power, amid severe criticism and student protests.

DTF president Nandita Narain said the previously implemented FYUP was proof of how common foundational modules in the first few semesters placed a “burden” on students instead of letting them focus on their chosen specialised subjects.

“Blindly copying undergraduate curriculum from universities in the US, where students study all subjects in school, does not work in India, where children begin to specialise after Class 10,” she added.

The DTF has accused the UGC of plagiarising portions of the FYUP draft from official curriculum documents of the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona, and has also documented instances to back its allegations.

UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar had then clarified that the content uploaded on the website was not the final version and that due credit would be given.

Some teachers have also raised objections to the hybrid approach of online and offline learning advocated in the FYUP, saying it will not only affect student learning but also teachers.

“Under the ABC [academic bank of credits] regulation, students can opt for online courses offered by other universities/Swayam Portal for up to 50 per cent of the programme in which they are enrolled. With this hybrid system, not only will the quality of learning be severely compromised, but thousands of ad hoc, temporary and guest teachers working across universities will become redundant,” she said.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: UGC’s undergrad programme draft plagiarised from US universities, alleges DU teachers’ body



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