Delhi University to offer 4 year degrees. The criticism doesn’t make sense…

Is Delhi University copying US undergrad format? Is this going to make one wait for another year before graduating? Should this be opposed? Should the MoHRD and others step in and block the move? Should the 4 year degree be for all students? The answer to these questions is a NO.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.

Robert Kennedy

Delhi University, one of India’s top universities, has announced that it will extend its three-year undergraduate course to four years from 2013 to make undergraduate education more broad-based and introduce more interdisciplinary education, according to Vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh.Students would be able to pick a broader range of subjects from different disciplines in their first year before continuing to their area of specialisation. 

The idea has been welcomed by academics, who say undergraduate education in India needs to improve in both quality and content.

However, the changeover faces a number of challenges such as realigning the existing curriculum, finding qualified teachers for the extra teaching load, and persuading teachers to migrate from the previous system.

Is the Delhi University proposal aimed at making its degrees like the US degrees?

Delhi University said it was not moving from British-style three-year degrees to an American four-year system.

“People think that we are copying the American system. But there are significant differences. What we are trying to do is study best practice across the world and change our education system accordingly,” Singh told University World News.

“We want to make the course application-oriented so that students acquire a large number of skills. We will couple this with a good [work] placement programme. We will also give exit options which no other university in India offers,” Singh said.

The Delhi University proposal for the 4 year degree is very similar in ways to the Australian Qualification Framework.

Under the new, more flexible system a student leaving after two years of study will receive a diploma if the required number of credits has been completed. A general bachelor degree will be awarded after three years of study and an honours degree after specialisation during the fourth year. 

The Australian Qualification framework is exactly this… Possibly even Ireland and NZ have similar exit or pathway routes. The Delhi University proposal hence is not a copying exercise of the American structure primarily since Delhi would allow exit after two years with a diploma, after the third with a bachelors and one additional fourth year will take it to honours qualification.

While I am appreciative of this structure, I have a feeling that Delhi intends to have all students in the four year mode and allow an exit earlier if they so want. This will make the  non-honours degrees to be inferior. This will disadvantage Delhi too as students may opt for three year full degrees offered by other Indian Universities. The ideal strategy should be to enrol all in a three year General Bachelors degree and only encourage those who wish to go on to academia or a research career later to undertake the honours year. Most Indian Masters qualifications should be able to admit the graduating students of non-honours degrees too and so after the third year itself. Holding an honours is not a requirement at all for coursework driven Master degrees such as an MBA or MSc. Even Mumbai University’s Bachelor degrees are non-honours degrees. Most Indian students who study in Australia or some other countries too enrol in non-honours Bachelors and have no issues in studying for a Masters thereafter. They opt for an honours only if they intend to undertake research or move on to Masters by research or PhD as then the honours vastly helps in readiness of the student.

Lets encourage the development but at the same time, structure it in a way that the fourth year remains optional for “most” students.

6 Comments

  1. Dear Ravi,

    May I know the latest news on validity of 1 year UK Masters in India. I just completed my Masters from UK and returned to India. I was absolutely not aware of non recognition of my degree. I am about to look for lecturer job as I am very passionate about teaching. Meanwhile I came to know about this shocking news. I am very much worried now.! May I know the latest update if you have? And sorry for posting this comment at the wrong place, as comments to your old posts are closed.

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  2. The real issue not the duration of the course but the content. None of course content has been prepared keeping in view career requirements. Most Discipline 1 and Discipline 2 courses have been prepared in haste without any due process. There has been no peer review. There has been no industry feed back.

    The course content has been designed to be interdisciplinary without taking in to account the career requirements. The courses have been designed to force students to study papers, which they would have rejected from a career point.

    Like most universities, Delhi University has been producing unemployable generalists. This new baccalaureate would only the DU graduates even more unemplyable

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