AC Meeting, 8-7-2011

DTF members raise objections and submit dissent note

At the meeting of the Academic Council on 8 July, DTF elected representatives submitted a protest note objecting to the manner in which meetings of the Academic Council have been convened and decisions taken. They also submitted a dissent note on the semesterised courses, curricula and syllabi which were on the agenda of the meeting. The texts of the two notes are given below:

Protest Note

We, the undersigned, take exception to the manner in which meetings of the Academic Council have been convened and decisions taken therein for the following reasons:

  1. Not providing adequate time, even the minimum time stipulated in the Regulations 3.2 of the Regulations relating to the Academic Council amounts to denying the Academic Council the required time for application of mind. Any decision taken by such meetings is ill-considered and arbitrary and is in violation of the Act, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations governing the University.
    Regulations 3.2 clearly stipulates that “The Registrar shall, ordinarily, at least seven days before each meeting of the Academic Council, issue to each member thereof, a notice convening the meeting and a copy of the Agenda thereof:” It is obvious that the stipulation of issuing agenda at least seven days before is to enable members to peruse the issues and apply their mind in order that the Academic council can take responsible and wise decisions. If the agenda is substantial and large, the same should be circulated well in advance keeping in mind the time required for meaningful engagement with the issues involved.
    The last meeting held on 25.4.2011 which considered a large number of courses was unacceptably called on an emergent basis and the agenda papers was issued to many members just a day or two before the meeting. The decisions taken in that meeting cannot be considered as due or responsible. The meeting that is being held today i.e. on 8.7.2011 is similarly being held without giving adequate time and is to consider again a large number of courses. The notice for this regular meeting has been dated 2.7.2011 a date that is not even, let alone at least, seven days before today. This notice and agenda has been issued to most members in the evening of 3.7.2011 or later. This repeated denial of adequate time suggests that ill-considered decisions regarding courses are being pushed through by considerations other than academic.
  2. It is shocking that the minutes of the decisions taken in the meetings of the Academic Council held on 9.11.2009 and 13.5.2010 are being placed for confirmation one and half year later for confirmation. This is unacceptable when the term of a large number of members present in those meetings has ended. Further, such lapse of time allows scope for motivated alterations in the details of the decisions taken. This is specifically a point of concern with regards to decisions which are under dispute in various forums. It is incumbent that the process of making and recording decisions be above suspicion of tampering, the scope for which widens with inexcusable delay in holding meetings.

Signed by
Renu Bala, Sheo Dutt, Rakesh Kumar

Dissent note

The semesterised courses, curricula and syllabi of the undergraduate courses under consideration in the Academic Council today do not meet the requirements of well-considered restructuring of the existing programmes for the following reasons:

  1. The courses, curricula and syllabi which are being replaced were results of painstaking endeavour drawing on the experience and expertise of the large number of teachers engaged in the teaching of the same programmes as well as peers/ experts outside the university through a process of discussion, scrutiny, questioning and rethinking over several drafts.
  2. The drafts of courses, curricula and syllabi being considered today have been drawn up in haste by individual Committees of Courses, mostly under protest and out of compulsion due to a fear of arbitrary bifurcation of the courses by the Vice-Chancellor. Some Committees such as those of the Departments of Economics, History, English and Sociology have brought it on record that they are sending drafts which they consider academically undesirable. It will be improper to thrust such questionable courses on students merely to meet some deadline for implementation of semester system.
  3. The inappropriate haste in which this restructuring is being done is evident in the fact that certain courses such as economics and history undergraduate programmes are incomplete and do not envision papers to be included beyond the first two semesters. A course to which a student is admitted cannot be and should not be academically incomplete and incoherent.
  4. The incoherence is not peculiar to the incomplete courses alone. The BA (Hons) and BA Programmes had a well thought out common framework/ structure which stipulated a certain numbers of language papers, concurrent (discipline/ interdisciplinary) papers, foundation and application papers in a definite sequence. The number of such papers and their sequence had been determined for the annual system after much debate and application of mind. No such exercise has been undertaken despite its absolute necessity before semesterised courses, even if they were desirable, could be made by individual committees of courses. It is unforgiveable that despite this essential requirement being pointed out by the Faculty of Social Sciences in writing to the Vice Chancellor, the Academic Council has not been allowed to duly deliberate on the issue. A claim has been made that the last meeting of the AC decided belatedly after arbitrarily approving many BA Programme and BA (Hons) courses that the syllabi of the existing concurrent/ credit courses shall remain unchanged. Such a decision, even if adopted without due deliberation and application of mind, remains arbitrary and incoherent since it fails to specify the sequencing of papers semester-wise and ignores the fact that compressing papers designed to be taught over a year at a certain pace to the span of a semester is pedagogically a dubious decision. Moreover, it is incomprehensible that some concurrent papers that were meant for first year students have now been shifted to the second year and second year papers to the third year without any change in content. Even this unclear and ill-thought decision was made too late leaving no reasonable time for courses to be framed and leading to unscrutinised proposals with imbalanced workload whereby the only way teaching can be provided to students depends on the existence of a permanent pool of unemployed teachers who are to hired for a semester during a year and fired afterward. It does not augur well for providing quality education.
  5. The imbalance, incoherence and the questionable standards of the proposed courses will lead to substantial delays and difficulties in making time-tables for teaching and adversely affect teaching-learning. The Academic Council as a responsible body should not be party to pushing the teaching-learning process into a chaos or causing its debasement.

It appears that an adamant insistence in pushing the semester system in haste has got the better of the objective of promoting excellence and equity in higher education. I, therefore, record my dissent on the course, curriculum and syllabi of each of the undergraduate course which are being considered for semesterisation in this meeting. We also urge that better sense prevails and that more time is given for due deliberation since not hurrying through changes in this manner can only benefit students. Any change must be properly discussed and decided before students making life-defining choices are subjected to it.

Signed by
Renu Bala, Sheo Dutt, Rakesh Kumar

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