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BTech pupils on edge after DU rollback

New Delhi, June 27: As most of Delhi University erupted in celebration after the four-year undergraduate programme was scrapped, BTech student Devanshu, sitting at a dharna site, looked at his friends with a sombre expression.

His worry was not that the FYUP had been scrapped. Rather, it was that the four-year BTech course should not be converted to a three-year BSc programme as it used to be before the FYUP was introduced last year.

Besides, the BTech programme would have to continue in its four-year format down the years so his batch was not treated as an “experimental” case.

Nearly 2,500 students have taken admission to BTech courses that were offered last year after the three-year undergraduate system was replaced with the FYUP through an ordinance.

The HRD ministry and the University Grants Commission said the ordinance was invalid as it was not approved by the Visitor. They said it violated the 10+2+3 system laid down in the National Education Policy, 1986, forcing the university to scrap it.

If the ordinance is itself invalid, all courses approved under it would also be invalid. So, BTech courses too would have to be converted to the three-year system, an academic council member said.

The BTech students have been on dharna, demanding the course should not be touched. They have been arguing that BTech courses everywhere were of four-year duration, so if DU compressed its course to three years, prospective employers may not acknowledge their degrees. These students marched to the UGC office on Wednesday.

“When the UGC is saying the ordinance is not valid, all 40-odd courses approved under it are also invalid. How can the BTech courses get exemption?” the academic council member asked.

A UGC official said DU could take a call on the issue. “If the university wants, it can allow the four-year BTech course to continue by bringing a fresh ordinance. UGC has nothing to do with it.”

The BTech issue will be discussed in a meeting of the academic and executive councils tomorrow.

“We do not want that the university should allow just one batch of four-year BTech. These courses must be offered every year so that we are not singled out as experimental batch,” Devanshu said.

Deepak Kumar, another BTech student, said the protest would continue. The students will march to the HRD ministry tomorrow.

When DU started the course, it did not take the approval of the All India Council of Technical Education. AICTE chairman S.S. Mantha said affiliated colleges under a university cannot offer BTech courses without AICTE approval.

“As per a Supreme Court decision, a university can offer technical courses in its own departments without taking approval of AICTE. But the affiliated colleges or constituent colleges cannot offer such courses without AICTE approval,” Mantha said.

In case of DU, BTech courses are offered by constituent colleges. So, AICTE may question why the approval was not sought last year.

“We never imagined DU would offer an invalid course. We trusted DU,” said Deepak.