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DU digs in heels on four-year course

New Delhi, June 18: Delhi University has dug in its heels, defending its four-year undergraduate programme before the higher education regulator UGC that had questioned the legal sanctity of the course.

University registrar Alka Sharma has written to the UGC saying all procedures were followed while introducing the FYUP in 2013, sources said.

The UGC, at a meeting on Friday, had said the FYUP violated the 10+2+3 system provided for in the national education policy. It also alleged that the programme was introduced through an ordinance not approved by the President, who is the Visitor of the university.

The registrar has written that the university introduced the FYUP after it was cleared on two occasions by the executive council, on May 9 and June 7 last year, following wide consultations with teachers and students. Once the executive council gave its nod, the ordinance was sent to the Union human resource development ministry to process it and send it to the Visitor for approval.

The HRD ministry functions as the intermediary between the Visitor’s office and institutions.

According to the DU Act, if no objection is received from the Visitor’s office within a month of the ordinance being sent for consideration, the ordinance will be deemed to been approved by the Visitor.

The registrar has argued that the university did not receive any objection from the Visitor within the stipulated time, the sources said.

But after sources in the HRD ministry said there was no official record to suggest that DU had submitted the ordinance for the Visitor’s approval, the UGC has written to the university asking for a copy of the communication sent to the ministry.

A former office-bearer of the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), which is opposing the four-year programme, alleged the university had rushed to introduce it. “Assuming they are correct that they sent the ordinance for approval, they should have waited for the response of the Visitor. But the implementation of FYUP had already begun before the executive council passed it,” Sanjaya Bohidar said. The programme was advertised before the executive council passed it, he claimed.

But former DUTA president Aditya N. Mishra, heading a section of teachers who are backing the administration, said the FYUP would continue. He questioned the sincerity of the UGC, asking why it had waited for a year if it believed that the programme violated the national education policy. “Has the UGC said anything about the Indian Institute of Science which has a four-year Bachelor of Science course,” he asked.

University vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh has convened the meeting of the academic council on Saturday to approve one more course in the four-year programme to be introduced from this year, signalling DU is not giving up yet. The meeting is expected to approve the course in forensic sciences.

The BJP is opposed to the FYUP and had promised in its manifesto for the Delhi elections to try to get it scrapped.

However, if the DU decides to stick with the programme and no rule violations can be found, it would be difficult for the government to force its hand. The President, as Visitor, can intervene in the university’s affairs but this power is used only in exceptional cases.