If the Minister “hastily” scraps Delhi University’s FOUR YEAR DEGREE format, it will be her first mistake…

If Smriti Irani, India’s “fresh” HRD minister goes ahead with BJP’s promised agenda item of scrapping the 4 year format, it will be her first mistake. The four year format has faults which can be corrected. The four year format has some uniqueness too which can be explained better. The four year format was also thrust forth by the VC without much deliberations, is also possibly true. But to now scrap it will be even a bigger negative. It will undermine the autonomy of the University. Ms Irani has had meetings with ABVP (which is the BJP patronised student Union) and also sections of the staff unions that have allegiance to the BJP. This is not sufficient. The University should be allowed to run the “already introduced format” for a few years and should also be allowed to correct any inadequacies in the format.

When Delhi University introduced the 4 year degree format, I had aired my views. I had found some merits in the model in place though had felt that the the VC and the promoters of the concept had made an error in quickly equating it to the US 4 year degree. US too offers a 4 year degree but it differs to the Delhi University model in several ways. There are no exit points or the concept of “Honours” in the US format. Except for the duration, there are two totally different formats.

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

However, I want to stress on the following from that article…

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.


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