Even as teachers of the University of Delhi held dharnas at every college to protest against among other things the improper haste with which the VC is seeking to push through a disastrous proposal to switch the undergraduate programmes of the University to a semester mode, the VC continues to show a lack of academic honesty and administrative sagacity.
The framework earlier circulated by him was criticised for lowering the standards of academic programmes. It diluted the contents of Honours programmes and reduced choices available to students at present. The VC has been arguing that the semester system is better than the annual one as it supposedly offers more choices and more interdisciplinarity. When it was pointed out that these suppositions were true only for smaller institutions where teaching and examinations were conducted internally, he decided to avoid a debate on the issue. He claimed to have found a solution to the challenge of reducing the time required for examinations in such a large university. As it turned out, his blueprint was worked out solely with the object of conducting examinations twice a year without compromising on teaching time. The consequence was a blueprint that dilutes the content and reduces options. That proves that semester system is unsuitable for a large and varied university. He, however, is impervious to academic concerns. He wants the semester system at all costs.
He has now produced a tinkered version (see here) of the original blueprint (see here). On major issues, he has done minor tinkering. Six papers that Honours students were to do from other disciplines now are supposed to be of lower than Honours standards. He has, however, proposed a major regressive change. The system of tutorials that has been a cornerstone of the Delhi University academic programmes allowing for small group interaction for so many decades has been effectively jettisoned without any discussion. The size of the tutorial groups for Honours at present is of eight students. Now, he proposes a minimum of 10 without any upper limit. In fact he wants a maximum of four tutorial groups even if there are 60-70 students in a class. Moreover, each group is to meet only once in a fortnight instead of every week (in case the scheduled day is a holiday, it works out to be once in a month). This is a serious blow to the quality of education the University can provide.
If the VC really believes that his mission is to improve education and not please the Government, he should be ready to debate as to whether semester system can actually lead to improving the quality of undergraduate programmes. The misfortune is that he is asking the Heads of various Departments to bypass due processes and find few compliant college teachers who will not raise uncomfortable academic issues and will only carry out tasks assigned to them.
The tinkered blueprint for semester system circulated by the VC fails to meet academic concerns and, worse, effectively does away with the tutorial system.