The state universities which were asked by the education department to take appropriate steps for the introduction of a four-year undergraduate programme “from the forthcoming academic session”, would soon call meetings of their respective academic bodies to explore the possibility of rolling out the programme, said varsity officials.
The state-aided universities and their affiliated colleges and the unitary universities now follow a three-year undergraduate programme.
Ashis Chatterjee, the interim vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, said as introduction of the new programme entails overhauling the infrastructure both at the affiliating colleges and the university, they have called a meeting of an academic body at the undergraduate level next week to decide on the introduction of the new programme.
Jadavpur University registrar Snehamnaju Basusaid she has forwarded the department’s communication to the respective deans to apprise them of what the department has suggested.
Sources at the Presidency campus said they have already developed a four-year curriculum, but would introduce it only after their governing body endorses it.
Education minister Bratya Basu said his department circulated a communication on taking appropriate steps for the introduction of a four-year undergraduate programme to the institutions for suitable consideration based on the infrastructure available with them.
The principal of a college said the four-year undergraduate programme mandates students who secure 75per cent marks in the first six semesters and wish to undertake research at the undergraduate level can choose a research in the fourth year.
UGC’s regulation says:“The departments offering a four-year UG degree (honours with research) must have required infrastructure such as computer lab and software, laboratory facilities to carry out experimental research, and at least two permanent faculty members who are recognized as PhD supervisors”.
“We don’t have funds to create such facilities. The state government does not provide adequate funds under the non-salary grant because of the fund crunch. Established institutions like Jadavpur University, RKM colleges are reaching out to their alumni for funds to develop infrastructure on their own,” the principal said.
“But we don’t have that pool of alumni. So how do we roll out the programme with available infrastructure?” he added.
Another principal said they need more rooms and teachers for the new programme.
“Where will the funds come for this?” he said.
Recognizing that fund is needed for introducing the four-year programme, education minister Bratya Basu told The Telegraph in a text message: “Our issue with UGChad been to provide suitable fund support to ensure its implementation by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as it may require physical/human resource upgradation.... Else, only HEIs having sufficient infrastructure like Jadavpur,Kolkata etc, will be able to implement”.
The minister also said UGC’s circular is “silent on fund provision”.
Father Dominic Savio, the principal of St Xavier’s College (an autonomous college)said: “A committee has been appointed by the Fr. principal to work out the curriculum and modalities for the implementation of a 4-year UG degree programme. The college is ready to implement the programme from the forthcoming academic year”.
Swami Mahaprajnandanda, principal of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira, Belur, said: “We are looking forward to introducing the new programme”.