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Academics offer middle path, UGC prods

Dinesh Singh, Valson Thampu, Hemlatha Reddy

New Delhi, June 25: The UGC today mounted fresh pressure on Delhi University to notify the three-year graduation system by tomorrow, but a group of academics floated a compromise formula that would also retain the four-year programme.

As the tussle over course tenure continued, the academics proposed an alternative system under which students could be granted an honours degree after three years and an honours by research degree after four.

The proposal is being pushed by about 20 academics, including St. Stephen’s College principal Valson Thampu and Venkateswara College principal Hemlatha Reddy. It is believed to have drawn a “positive response” from DU vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh.

Thampu today told The Telegraph that the career and interests of two lakh students had been forgotten in the fight between the UGC and DU.

“Now the fight is whether it should be a three-year degree or a four-year degree. Nobody bothers about over two lakh students. Our proposal is to seek a middle ground and end the suffering of the children,” Thampu said.

However, the compromise formula does not seem to have got the support of the UGC, which wants DU to revert to the three-year system by tomorrow.

At a meeting to which Singh was not called, UGC chairman Ved Prakash told DU officials to notify the three-year system tomorrow and also issue the order to colleges so that the admission process could begin. Among those invited to the meeting were the dean of colleges Malashree Lal, south campus director Umesh Rai and pro vice-chancellor S. Pachouri.

The UGC also issued another order asking DU to submit by tomorrow morning a compliance report on its previous directive that the university and its affiliated colleges revert to the three-year system immediately.

“We have asked the university to comply with our previous order by tomorrow morning. The university should notify the three-year system tomorrow. They may start admissions after notifying it,” a UGC official said.

On Friday, the UGC had asked the university to admit students to the three-year course from this year onwards. It was also told to facilitate migration of four-year course students to the three-year system and do whatever was necessary to adhere to the 10+2+3 structure laid down in the National Policy of Education, 1986.

The higher education regulator also issued letters to DU and 64 colleges, asking them to roll back the four-year programme before the admission process started last Tuesday.

Most colleges agreed to conditional compliance with the UGC directive but insisted they would have to wait for “clear guidance” from the “competent authority” (DU) before beginning admissions.

“In the light of the recent developments and keeping in view the spirit of the communication, the college has no option but to defer the process of admission till clear guidance are received from the competent authority,” the letter written by the principals said.

Former DU academic council member Sanjay Verma said: “Under the DU Act, the academic council and executive councils are the competent authority on academic matters for departments and colleges under it.”

Academics for Action and Development (AAD), a group of teachers supporting the four-year programme, claimed the UGC was treating DU as its colony.

“UGC should stop treating DU like its colony. It cannot thrust its decisions on DU. DU was created much before UGC,” Rajesh Jha, an AAD member, said.

DU sources said an emergency academic council meeting might be convened to discuss how to tweak the four-year programme to strike a balance between the UGC’s directives and the university’s autonomy.

The academics who floated the compromise formula said they would discuss their proposal with the UGC.

The proposal seeks to tweak the four-year system so that it adheres to the 10+2+3 structure but also offers an optional research option to students wanting to study for the fourth year.

According to the proposal, the university should revert to the three-year honours programme by cutting out courses not from the honours stream. The main honours course could be increased to 17 papers from 14 at present. The foundation courses could be reduced and only some prescribed in the first year.

The university could then offer an optional fourth year of study dedicated to research, which would give its takers an honours by research degree.

If the performance of four-year degree holders was above a certain threshold, they could be given direct admission to a PhD programme, said Vijay K. Choudhary of DU’s microbiology department.

“This is the best possible solution to end the deadlock. We want both the UGC and the university to accept it,” Choudhary said.

The delegation met the VC and suggested the formula. “The VC is positive about it,” he said.

The UGC has set up a 10-member committee to suggest how the four-year programme could be reversed to the three-year system. The panel has yet to submit its report.

Entrance test

DU today announced that the entrance test to the Bachelor of Management Studies course started under FYUP would be held tomorrow as scheduled. It added that even if there was any change in admission guidelines, the test would remain valid for entrance.