Against AC being forced to pass Four-Year Graduation
As concerned students and teachers of Delhi University, we condemn the DU Vice-Chancellor’s undemocratic and callous imposition of the Four-year Graduation Programme on the University.
This measure is at variance with the standing norm of the National Education Policy, adopted by the Parliament in 1992, which lays down a 10+2+3 pattern for all States and Centrally funded and administered education institutions. The right to modify or tamper with such a policy does not lie with the DU authorities. Furthermore, the Academic Council of Delhi University has not carried out any credible exercise in consulting with the statutory bodies, viz. Department Councils, Committees of Courses and Faculties before deliberating on and deciding to pass the Four-year structure. Since the restructuring of courses and syllabi is the prerogative of the Committee of Courses in each Department, the fact that they have not recommended any such restructuring, needs to be noted. To pass the Four-year graduation programme without the consent of the Committees of Courses is hence a clear violation of Regulation 16A-4 of the Delhi University Act.
We are of the firm and considered opinion that such massive restructuring is bound to have far-reaching academic and social ramifications. Hence, a comprehensive debate on the proposed shift to the Four-year structure and formal scrutiny should have necessarily taken place. Since constituent colleges and departments offering undergraduate education in the University are going to be responsible for the implementation of this structure, formal feedback should have been sought from College Staff Councils too. In the absence of all these necessary steps, the Academic Council has clearly not been enabled to consider the proposal on objective grounds and take a decision on the matter. Neither has it been made to acquaint itself with any recognized and empirical assessment of the existing Three-year structure and its possible shortcomings vis-à-vis the purported objective of the University to upgrade the quality and standard of its undergraduate curriculum. While the Vice-Chancellor claims to have consulted students, teachers and parents, all these informal consultations have been carried out through closed forums (like the Academic Congress) nominated by him and hence, cannot be seen as substitutes for the required peer-review. In these circumstances, we are forced to conclude that the Vice-Chancellor’s insistence on getting the Four-year structure passed in the Academic Council is guided by extra-academic considerations and causes grievous harm to public stake in Delhi University.
As has been widely reported in the media, the Union Government is desperate to get six Bills on Higher Education passed, in order to clear the way for massive Foreign and Private Investment in Higher Education. In tandem with these Bills, the current Four-year structure, alongside the contentious credit-transfer scheme, seeks to put DU in sync with the undergraduate format prevalent in American Universities, so that mobility of students between DU and Foreign Universities may be facilitated. The proposed structure for the Four-year programme also seeks to substantially dilute the academic rigour of currently taught disciplines in DU and replace their number with commercially-oriented courses that have little to offer by way of academic content and critical enquiry. Instead, in the name of Innovation and Skill-building, the proposals seek to address the narrow needs of the market. Students and teachers of Delhi University have continuously protested against these changes being affected in the name of ‘reform’; today was no different. The University Administration refused to allow students and teachers to go past the University main gate and reach the Vice-Regal Lodge Area. Even as protesters managed to agitate and breach the security at the main gate and march inside, the riot police were called in to block the entrance to the Jawahar Vatika (flower garden) adjacent to the gate of the VC’s office and Council Hall. Even elected members of the Academic Council were refused access to the Council Hall for a long time, by the police and security bandobast acting under the express orders of the University Administration. The protests continued throughout the AC meeting.
While we will continue to firmly oppose this unilateral restructuring through mass-agitations and public campaigns, we demand that this decision to follow a Four-year Graduation Programme in Delhi University be immediately revoked and the process of legitimate and formal consultations begun. We also demand that the MHRD and UGC initiate a transparent process of consultations with all concerned sections of society and State Education Commissions if it intends to democratically bring about a change in the National Education Policy, in accordance with which all degree-awarding Universities must be required to function.