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UGC doubts on compromise formula

New Delhi, June 26: University Grants Commission sources tonight expressed strong reservations about a compromise proposal forwarded by Delhi University, quashing students’ hopes of a quick end to the college admissions standoff.

Earlier in the day, the university had cited procedural hurdles to virtually reject the commission’s directive to scrap the four-year undergraduate programme it had introduced last year and return to the old three-year system.

Instead, it sent a compromise formula under which the university offers an honours degree after three years, with the option of a fourth year dedicated to research that would be followed by an “honours by research” degree.

Late tonight, sources said that both the higher education regulator and the Union human resource development ministry had objections to the latest proposal and the commission had sought legal opinion on it.

This should be bad news for the 2.7 lakh-odd students hoping for admission to the university’s 64 colleges — a process the stalemate has delayed. The worst hit are the outstation students and their parents.

“I have been coming to the campus every day for the past four days, hoping for a resolution. But it’s going nowhere,” said Jamshedpur resident Mithilesh Kumar, who has come to get daughter Manisha Priya admitted. He said he had cancelled his return ticket.

University registrar Alka Sharma had earlier today written to commission secretary Jaspal Singh Sandhu, listing the problems that would ensue if the regulator’s directive were met.

She said the four-year programme could be scrapped only with approvals from the course committees of the various departments, faculty meetings and the university’s academic and executive councils.

Besides, the student applicants would have to register afresh for admission since the present four-year system does not offer the “pass” stream. All the hopefuls have applied for honours courses under the four-year programme, and repeating the whole process will take up a long time, Sharma said.

She told the commission that a compromise proposal mooted yesterday by about 20 academics (including the principals of two Delhi University colleges) was feasible enough and could be implemented immediately.

“The university is of the opinion that given the situation where admissions are being delayed, time is of the essence,” the letter said, advocating the middle path formula, which entails some chopping and changing of the syllabus.

Under the four-year programme, students take up 11 “foundation courses” in the first two years. Apart from this, they study Discipline I (honours) and Discipline II (equivalent to pass) courses.

Under the compromise proposal, the university would drastically truncate the foundation courses, teaching just a few in the first year, and raise the number of honours papers from the current 14 to 17.

For the students who enrolled for the four-year programme last year, their second-year foundation courses will be junked and their honours papers increased.

The new proposal, however, says the BTech courses — which the university has started in subjects such as computer science, electronics and the psychological sciences — should be left untouched to avoid them being relabelled BSc courses.

Commission chairperson Ved Prakash met human resource development minister Smriti Irani in the morning to discuss the new proposal.

Teachers’ bodies appeared divided over the logic that the admission seekers must register themselves afresh if the university reverts to the three-year system.

“In 2012, the aspiring students did not have to register. They were asked to go to the college of their choice and seek admission directly. The same procedure can be followed this year too,” National Democratic Teachers’ Front spokesperson Pramod Shastri said.

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association, the main teachers’ body, criticised the compromise proposal saying it was a repackaged form of the four-year programme.

It wrote to the university’s Visitor (the President of India) urging him to annul the ordinance that introduced the four-year programme and sack Dinesh Singh as vice-chancellor.

Academics for Action and Development (Rathi), an association of teachers, appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.

Another teachers’ group, Academics for Action and Development (Aditya), continued its attack on the commission for what it saw as the regulator’s interference in the university’s academic affairs.