With the executive council (EC) at the University of Delhi (DU) giving a nod to the complete implementation of NEP 2020 from the next academic year of 2022-23, the debate over the implementation of the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) at the University has resurfaced.
Where it began
The FYUP policy had first been introduced in DU in 2013. Dinesh Singh, former vice-chancellor, DU, who pioneered FYUP in 2013, says, “The idea behind FYUP was, and remains, to impart a wholesome education to UG students to make them industry-ready and research-oriented.”
“A tech giant had approached the University with a request to hire a sizeable number of undergraduate students. After interviewing around 1200 candidates, they left with only a handful of final recruits,” he said. This seed the idea of bringing about the concept of a holistic development-based education system, says Singh.
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All it includes
Under the NEP 2020, the FYUP allows for multiple entry and exit points, with a blended (online and offline) mode of learning and a bank of credits. Students also have the option to stick to three years or go for a four-year course if they want to do a research based UG programme.
Singh says that FYUP 2013 also provided a similar structure. “There was a huge drop-out rate in the second year. FYUP 2013 provided students who completed their second year with a diploma, and allowed them to store their bank of credits. They had the freedom to resume their education whenever possible from the point where they had left it. Also, the bank of credits that students would collect in the first three years would enable them to opt for a Master’s degree upon completion of the third year, or go in for the fourth year, as per their choice,” he clarifies.
Then and now
Rajeev Gupta, registrar, DU, says that in 2013, there had been a mismatch in the FYUP and the NEP 1986, which was being followed then. “This led to confusion amongst students, leading to protests and ultimately a rollback of the policy. This time, FYUP is being introduced in complete sync with NEP 2020, which will make all the difference in its acceptance across levels,” he adds.
Also, in the 2013 edition, students were being given a degree only at the end of the course, adds Gupta. “We are providing students with a recognition at the completion of every year of the UG programme. This will enable flexibility in the students’ minds and encourage drop-outs at any level and for any reason to rejoin the course whenever they deem it fit,” he says.
Additionally, in 2013, DU had been the first and only higher educational institute (HEI) to introduce FYUP, which affected it adversely. “With NEP 2020, it is a mandate for every HEI to introduce FYUP. With no room for opposition, all institutes will introduce the FYUP, make mistakes, learn from them, and move on towards a better education system,” says Gupta.
FYUP will help students move out of the rote learning system. “The flexibility to mix Honours courses, such as Mathematics, Sanskrit or Hindi with minor courses in Computers, Biotechnology or Literature, will enable students to explore their innovative sides. Since a similar format was followed in FYUP 2013 as well. This will lead to greater research orientation among students,” he says.
With the dilution of the three-year courses into a four-year format, there will be a decrease in the teachers’ workload, says Rajib Ray, president, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA). “Since students have the option to pursue their minor courses from the source that they deem fit, both the quality of education and teachers’ workload will be affected. A decrease in workload will also impact the hiring trends of teachers at the university,” he adds.
Singh adds that with the government providing clear mandate on the workload for both students and teachers, there should be no issues regarding anyone being over-burdened.
Faculty needs to be oriented properly, says Singh. “With FYUP, the major responsibility falls on the teachers’ shoulders. Thus, they have to be given adequate time to come out of the mould they have been comfortable in for so many years, and enable them to restructure the course curriculum to make it knowledge-based,” he adds.
Ray says that teachers need to be given the specifics of the course curriculum for the NEP oriented academic session at the earliest. “The University will need government support and funding so that adequate infrastructure can be built to enable the FYUP,” he adds.