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DU row hits where it hurts most
College admissions deferred by a week

New Delhi, June 23: Colleges affiliated to Delhi University have deferred admissions by a week, adding to the uncertainty gripping the one lakh-odd seat seekers, as the stand-off with the University Grants Commission continued today.

The colleges were scheduled to announce their cut-off marks this evening and the admission process was to have started tomorrow.

Yesterday, the commission — the higher education regulator — had given the university and its 64 colleges time till today to junk the four-year undergraduate programme introduced last year.

It asked them to admit the fresh batch of students to the old three-year courses and switch the 54,000 students admitted last year too to the three-year system.

The regulator threatened to stop grants to the university and the colleges if its directive wasn’t followed, and cited a law that allows it to de-recognise the university’s degrees.

Late this evening, commission officials said they were still waiting for a compliance report from the university despite having sent a reminder in the afternoon.

The university’s College Principals’ Association met this afternoon and decided to defer admissions for a week till the matter was sorted out.

When the admissions start, the colleges may have to accept fresh applications, which can potentially delay the process further.

A committee headed by commission vice-chairman H. Devaraj feels the four-year programme would have kept many students from applying for admission to Delhi University this year. It has decided that such students should now be allowed to directly approach their preferred colleges after the selection cut-offs are out.

St. Stephen’s College, which declared its cut-off last week and announced the interview dates for some courses, has said it will continue with the selection process but defer the final admissions and fee payments till the stand-off ends.

It said “provisional” lists of the selected and wait-listed candidates would be published and the interviews and sports trials continue as scheduled.

“Candidates… shall be granted three working days for depositing their fees from the time a notice making the final admission offer is put up on the college notice board and website,” a statement said.

St. Stephen’s is a minority institution and carries out its own admission process but follows the course structure prescribed by the university.

As the stalemate continues with vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh reluctant to budge, the government may write to the President — the Visitor of the university — seeking his removal, Union human resource development ministry sources said.

The Visitor can remove the vice-chancellor on grounds of misconduct, incapacity or violation of statutory provisions.

During UPA rule, the commission had supported the four-year programme, which the BJP manifesto for last winter’s Delhi polls promised to scrap. Commission chairman Ved Prakash today met human resource development minister Smriti Irani to discuss the stand-off.

The commission says the four-year programme violates the national education policy that provides for a 10+2+3 system. But the vice-chancellor met higher education secretary Ashok Thakur this morning and is understood to have cited a recommendation by the Education Commission of 1964-66, which said the duration of programmes might vary from university to university, and even within the same university.

Singh is also learnt to have argued that the regulator has only a lower limit for the duration of undergraduate programmes — three years — but no upper limit.

Ministry sources say the four-year programme is illegal since approval had not been sought from the regulator or the Visitor. They say that students and parents might sue the university for offering an illegal course.

The university says it had sent the ordinance through which it introduced the four-year programme to the ministry, seeking the Visitor’s approval. It says it was entitled to deem the ordinance as approved when no response came from the Visitor within 30 days.

WHAT HAPPENS ELSEWHERE?

• All universities in the US and Canada offer four-year undergraduate programmes

• Some South American countries such as socialist-ruled Brazil and Venezuela have a four-year system

• Most universities in Asian countries such as South Korea, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan offer four-year undergraduate courses

• Most countries under the Bologna Process, a grouping of 47 European countries, follow a
three-year programme. But in the UK, students spend 13 years in school, unlike 12 in India

• Panjab University pioneered the four-year undergraduate system in India. The course was
offered for decades but was discontinued after the national education policy of 1986 with the 10+2+3 system was adopted

• Other than Delhi University, Ambedkar University and Shiv Nadar University offer four-year programmes. Ashoka University, a new institution, plans to offer four-year programmes soon. Some institutes specialising in science education offer four-year courses


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