The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Open varsity offers quick-fix degrees

Afraid of the Class V syllabus' But still want to do a BA or, better still, an MA'

The right place for you would be any of the study centres of the Netaji Subhas Open University. (NSOU) You join up for a fee, get some study material, go home with it and prepare for an exam that will follow six months later.

That exam over, you are ready for a Bachelor’s degree that is as good as any from Calcutta or Jadavpur University and can lead you to a Master’s from any campus under the sun. Who cares if you don’t have a Madhyamik (Class X) or an ISC (Class XII) certificate under your belt' On the academic fast lane, all you have to be is 18.

Welcome to the NSOU bachelor’s preparatory programme. The open university, which will hold its annual convocation later this month, has devised a unique course for those in a hurry to acquire a university under-graduate or post-graduate degree.

The first batch of students enrolled for the programme earlier this year. They have already got their study material and are likely to appear for the examination (for many, it may be the only one they are appearing for before they prepare for their Bachelor’s exams) some time in the latter half of the current academic year, say NSOU officers.

Another good thing about the course is that it comes cheap; it costs only Rs 600, including the course fee, registration fee and the cost of the identity-card.

The exam that is going to follow has several ‘blocks’ that tests one’s knowledge of English, the vernacular, mathematics, social studies and commerce and is worth 200 marks. Not much classroom study is involved, say officials. “Instead, the material that students get is self-explanatory and can be studied at home,” one of them added.

The quick-fix way to degrees has ruffled many feathers. Teachers of other campuses have already raised a stink, wondering why “less fortunate” students should have to slog.

An organisation representing a cross-section of teachers has gone further. “Why doesn’t the cash-strapped Left Front government shut down all schools and colleges'” asked Nationalist Democratic Teachers’ Association college and university cell secretary Benoy Bhushan Chakraborty. The NSOU authorities, however, see nothing wrong. “The exams that students of the course will write after the six-month study-time are of a standard equal to the school-leaving exams (Class XII) of other boards,” director Ashis Guha said.

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