NEP 2020 & FYUP

DTFFistRollbackFYUP-NEP

As one of the main recommendations of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, FYUP is back to haunt us. In response to a popular movement of students and teachers led by the DUTA, the NDA Government was instrumental is scrapping the FYUP in 2014. Today, through NEP 2020, it is bringing back the FYUP, this time for the entire country. It has chosen to ignore issues with its concept, structure, and its impact on quality, as well as important questions of affordability of education and grants required to make any expansion meaningful.

The Executive Council approved a FYUP framework of 196 credits on 31 August amidst dissents. In December, the University circulated to colleges and Departments two more draft FYUP frameworks – of 184 and 164 credits. The University has now released a fourth model with 176 credits.

This repeated tweaking of the framework proves that the very idea of a single structure leading to multiple types of certifications is flawed. Given that the UGC has released the Draft National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) on 28.01.2022 which prescribes 160 credits for a Bachelor’s (Hons/ Research) degree, it is very likely that DU will have to amend its framework yet again.

WHAT IS THE NHEQF?

The draft NHEQF prescribes course and credit structures and touts multi-disciplinarity and skill development at the undergraduate level as the new buzz words (following from the NEP2020). It overlooks the fact that multi-disciplinarity is only useful when it supplements specialized skills and is meaningless in its absence. What the proposed structures effectively do is to fragment students’ time in various domains, taking away the opportunity to become proficient in any.

The NHEQF sets the most desired duration of undergraduate studies to be four years and gives it a fixed structure from which students may extract various certifications depending on the number of years they choose to study. Due to the orientation of the structure towards a 4-year research degree, the lower certifications – the Undergraduate Certificate and Undergraduate Diploma – will be mere paper degrees with little relevance for employability or grounded learning. Further, students who graduate with a 3-year degree will run the risk of being treated as dropouts who lacked the ability to complete the full programme.

The NHEQF’s stipulation of credits for various certifications is as follows: 40 credits earned in first two semesters lead to an Undergraduate Certificate, 80 credits earned in 2 years lead to an Undergraduate Diploma, a Bachelor’s Degree can be obtained in three years with 120 credits, and BTech and Bachelor (Hons/Research) degrees require 160 credits over 4 years. These credits are a significant reduction of credits from the current 3-year requirement of 148 credits under the Choice-Based Credit System (2015) and hence, a dilution of the academic content. In effect, a student spends another year to gain a half-semester’s worth of knowledge!

It must be noted that the additional 4th year is not feasible without an increase in faculty and staff members, as well as more classrooms, labs, and library facilities. There is no promise of any additional investment from the Government – without this, the FYUP can only be implemented via online learning with deleterious consequences for employability, learning and development. Resource constrained public-funded universities will find it especially hard to address the needs of a diverse student population. The informalisation of education which is sought to be put in place through the ABC and SWAYAM Regulations will lead to institutionalization of short-term teaching jobs and thus to job loss on a large scale. The net result of all these developments will be the collapse of education as a viable component of social development and transformation and of teaching as a career choice.

THE FYUP MODEL IN DU

The latest model, which is to be discussed in the meeting of the Academic Council on Wednesday, 9 February, reduces weightage in terms of number of hours and hence, credits, dedicated towards Discipline Specific Core (DSC), Discipline Specific Electives (DSE) and Generic Elective (GE) from 6 (as in the current 3-year LOCF or the other models of FYUP) to 4. In the current scheme, DSC, DSE and GE are in the format: (i) 5 lectures + 1 Tutorial or (ii) 4 lectures + 2 credits to 4 hours of lab. The Model proposes that 4 credits could be distributed as 3L +1 T per week and 3L + 2 Lab hours, leading to 1 credit for lab-based papers. Only 2/3 of the content of papers can be retained, which once again will translate into a severe academic dilution.

The FYUP, which is being peddled to students in the name of flexibility/choice, will not necessarily lead to meaningful degrees. The choice given to students can be so varied and disparate that it could render the degree meaningless. The role of statutory bodies and teachers to decide on the progression of papers leading to a degree in the subject has been taken away in the name of “student’s choice”. One of the most significant fallouts will be the institutionalization of short-term / contractual teaching jobs. The other significant change that the NEP2020 brings in is the Multiple Entry and Exit System (MEES). Is the freedom given to students to exit the Course of Study after any given year and to rejoin an authentic freedom? What does it mean for students from the socially deprived sections, women, and those differently abled who will be the likely “dropouts”?

In the above scenario, the workload will never be stable and hence, the number of teachers required in any given semester will always be variable. As a result, permanent appointments will become impossible.

Research / academic projects/ entrepreneurship are a compulsory component of the fourth year. This will encourage project shops and “cut and paste” research at mass level. The absence of institutional funding for research will render it meaningless. Research can at best be optional as it is in the CBCS. The FYUP will impose the additional burden of another year of education on parents. Lakhs of students complete a degree in 3-years before employment or undertaking further studies. With the neoliberal devaluation of work, of which the FYUP is a part, employers will treat even a 3-year graduate student as a dropout and devalue them.

The FYUP models (4-years UG programme + 1-year PG) do not present themselves as more robust options than the current 3-years LOCF + 2-years PG. There is no academic advancement despite additional time devoted towards a UG degree. Rather, it is a wasteful use of students’ time as there are a host of VA courses (ostensibly meant for “holistic” development).

Crucial years of the current batch of 12th class students have been affected by the pandemic. It is unfair and academically deleterious to force on them ill-thought and rushed exercises of CUCET and FYUP. For once, the University of Delhi should spare them from these experiments. Or else, the teaching-learning processes will be irredeemably impaired.

At the call of DUTA, Staff Associations of 13 DU colleges sent their feedback. These Resolutions make it amply clear that, just like the erstwhile FYUP, this experiment too will deepen the crisis of public higher education and must be opposed and rejected. We quote here some salient points from the feedback sent by SAs. Click here for SA Resolutions

“Four years of education also entails extra costs to be borne by the student which can adversely impact the enrolment rate. Too many exit points also create uncertainty with regard to workload… Please clearly mention that additional year should add additional credits, additional workload, additional infrastructure and additional budget. It should be done in consultation with all stakeholders.” 

– Hindu College

“In the pursuit of commodification, the NEP and its schemes provide a variety of options but in practice, it would not be possible to implement experienced even in the existing structure due to lack of require infrastructure and enough teaching hands. The House therefore unanimously and unequivocally rejects the NEP and proposed both schemes of courses.”

– Rajdhani College

“FYUP resulting in four different degrees depending on the years spent by the student towards it is not an academically sound proposal. Certificate and Diploma will be rendered by the job market as insufficient/ inadequate degrees. Coursework for a meaningful Certificate or Diploma would require an altogether different structure and orientation…Universities are known for their coursework. The idea of giving absolute freedom to students to construct their degrees is misplaced.”

– Miranda House

“Due to the introduction of more choice to study papers from other departments, the workload of the many departments is bound to decrease.”

– Keshav Mahavidyalaya

“…instead of addressing the root cause of high drop-out rates among students, most of whom are from the deprived and vulnerable sections of the society, the FYUP in real terms is systematizing the phenomenon of dropping out. 3 (b) The FYUP will organize and formalize the exodus of students from the Scheduled Castes (SC), Other Backward Castes (OBC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Since majority of these students belong to the economically weak, vulnerable and marginalized sections and are mostly products of government schooling, they have seen high drop-out rates in the past. The system of multiple exit points, in particular, is going to sabotage the reservation granted to them in higher education. Even though admissions would be granted through reservation at the beginning of the FYUP course, at the end of two or even three years far fewer students from the reserved category would still remain in the university system.”

– Jesus and Mary College

“SA ZHDC believes that Students are unfortunately left totally out of any consultation hence impact of MEES, blended learning and other aspects of NEP read along with change in UG structure it is certain that NEP will negatively affect students from marginalized sections like SC/ST/OBC, minorities, women and other economically weaker sections. The unfortunate digital divide that we have witnessed during this COVID induced span of online teaching is visible to all, therefore DUTA must fight to safeguard students from adverse effects of NEP.”

 – Zakir Hussain Delhi College

“Over the last decade and half, the Delhi University system has gone through a series of ill-conceived changes with catastrophic consequences. Five curricular frameworks in ten years, fluctuating workloads, virtual embargo on regular faculty appointments, increased student intake without corresponding investments in augmenting human resources or infrastructure have taken a toll on the academic processes as well as the working conditions in the university. From a robust and vibrant public university system, today DU has become a space of temporariness and ad-hocism. Currently, less than half of its teaching faculty is permanent, and even this number is decreasing every day with retirements.”

  – Lady Shri Ram College

“The members of staff association, Bharati College in the association meeting held on 5th January 2022 (online) unanimously agreed that some of the provisions of NEP will lead to deterioration in quality learning, decrease in workload, and increase in burden on students to cover the syllabus in a shorter period of time.”

  – Bharati College

“For the last two years, we are coping with severe academic disruption during the pandemic. Online teaching, apart from being inaccessible to students from marginalized sections, is a poor substitute for physical classes. The online OBEs have only promoted mass copying. With three academic calendars running simultaneously, teachers have had no break from continuous teaching, evaluation, admission, NAAC work etc, apart from coping with continuous family health crises, loss and death. The system needs to return to normalcy before we think of major changes in structure.”

  – St. Stephen’s College

“One of the adverse implications of the proposed frameworks is that the overall workload of different subjects in UG colleges will be altered & may be reduced significantly for the first three years. It will also make workload fluctuating & thus will adversely affect the teaching positions, reservation roster & therefore regularization process. Hence, not acceptable to us.”

  – Shyama Prasad Mukherjee College

“The House therefore unanimously and unequivocally rejects the NEP and its proposed both schemes of courses. We also demand DUTA to move towards massive mobilisation aimed at the absorption of all existing adhoc teachers and the rolling back of NEP and its proposed schemes. We cannot accept changes in the name of academic reform that is fundamentally flawed in every possible way.”

  – Ramjas College

“It was also decided in the meeting to request the DUTA to generate pressures to initiate the process of absorption /regularisation of working adhoc teachers before initiating a debate/discussion on any form of academic restructuring at any level.”

  – Deshbandhu College

“196 क्रेडिट को 164 पर लाने का दो प्रकार का असर होगा। पहला तो एकेडमिक काउंसिल की वैधानिकता को समाप्त कर रहे हैं। दूसरा अपने ad hoc साथियों के साथ अपराध होगा।“

  – पीजीडीएवी सांध्य कॉलेज

The time for complacency is over – FYUP and ABC and SWAYAM Regulations must be rejected for their adverse ramifications for students, teachers, and public education. With over 4500 teachers teaching on ad-hoc and temporary basis over the last decade, this restructuring that reduces workload across the board and makes it variable will be used for institutionalizing short-term teaching / contractual posts. It is an attack on the quality of public-funded education in the country as the choice of an academic career will no longer be relevant for aspiring students.

A quick perusal of the other document released by the UGC on 28.1.2022, the Draft Guidelines on Institutional Development Plan (IDP) for Higher Educational Institutions, reveals several dangerous and anti-academic recommendations regarding the teaching-learning process. It would not be erroneous to infer that this Plan is not about “Institutional “Development” but about a thorough “Institutional “Destruction”!!

First, this draft recommends for undergraduate courses a rise in the teacher-student ratio of (1:30) in Social Sciences, (1:25) in Sciences and (1:30) in Commerce/Management. There is no mention of any teacher-student ratio for Humanities!! This will lead to a massive reduction in the teaching workload as the existing teacher-student ratio is (1:18) across these disciplines. This will also mean a massive job loss for teachers and a sharp decline in the quality of education. The draft IDP thus moves in a direction opposite to what is desirable for quality. It may be noted that the desired teacher-student ratio in the IITs is 1:10, even if it is not always met in practice.

Second, this draft Plan recommends that 50% of total faculty requirement is to be met by Contractual (tenure)/Visiting faculty from the Profession/Industry. This means firstly that a sizeable amount of teaching workload will remain variable and many existing teaching posts will remain non-permanent.

Third, this draft Plan also recommends a separate cadre of teachers apart from the existing ones who will be known as “tenure-track” teachers. For these tenure-track teachers, the Draft Guidelines recommends that a “suitable probation” will be put in place to “ensure excellence.” This clause about suitable “probation” in itself and especially when left to the interpretation of individual Higher Educational Institutions, implies greater exploitation of teachers. Moreover, what is the academic rationale for these teachers to have a probation period that is longer and more arduous no doubt than existing permanent teachers?

Fourth, the performance assessment for these tenure-track teachers will have “multiple parameters” to be “developed by each Higher Educational Institution.” This expansive disarticulation of the service conditions of teachers working in different institutions is a one-way street to a massive deterioration of the pay and service conditions and working environment of teachers. In this proposed set up there will be no apex body like the UGC to govern higher education. Each Higher Educational Institution will be “free” to put in place its own service conditions including “salary increases.” This is an open invitation for a race to the bottom both for quality of education and service conditions of teachers. The NEP-2020 already envisages private Board of Governors (BoGs) which will be given full leeway to decide upon courses to offer as well as pay and service conditions of teachers. This is nothing but a sale of well-established public institutions into private hands for rampant commercialization and consequent exclusion of the deprived from participation in education.

Fifth, the Draft Guidelines recommend the use of online courses/E-learning platforms for “reducing student numbers” in physical classes. This will not only significantly reduce the teaching workload in combination with Swayam/MOOCS and ABC schemes but will also be a death knell for a participative and quality teaching learning process. The “opportunity” provided by the pandemic has witnessed an exponential growth of online edu-businesses, with the Government touting the “blended mode” as the way forward without any concern for its effect on the quality of education.

Sixth, the Draft Guidelines argue for greater involvement of domestic private and foreign direct investment in higher education. This, along with the use of land as an asset to gain self-reliance, indicates how education is no longer envisaged as a public intervention (a guarantee for a sovereign development process) but as a business model that will consequently undermine the possibility of democratizing development.

The document does not make a distinction between public and private as far as education is concerned. It apparently formulates ambitious plans for universities in terms of land requirements, infrastructure, and layouts without explaining how the required resources will be mobilised. Therefore, these new requirements may be used to either shut down many public funded HEIs and medium sized private universities or enable their handover to big corporates.

The Draft Guidelines on Institutional Development Plan (IDP) for Higher Educational Institutions, in tune with the NEP2020, will demolish the public higher education system, undermine the gains made by the struggle for social justice through reservations and roll back the hard-won collective rights of teachers. The FYUP, with its meaningless structure and dilution of existing degrees, is an assault on the quality of education being provided today to a large section of our youth who aspire for better lives.

The recently announced Union Budget 2022 shows that the Government clearly lacks the will to increase public spending on education. The Government is seeking to increase GER through “online” education which, in the neoliberal framework, is a euphemism for an attenuation of the teaching learning process. Treating teachers as recurring costs, it wants to use informalisation of education as the model. The need of the hour is to ensure the absorption of the 4500 teachers who have served in the university to advance public education. The changes envisaged in these documents are firstly a direct attack on their livelihood. This attack will then be extended to every section of the public higher education system.

The DTF calls upon the DUTA to lead a participative struggle, together with civil society, non-teaching colleagues, students, and parents, for the absorption of teachers following the constitutionally mandated reservation roster and to outrightly reject these models of the FYUP and the Draft Guidelines in order to ensure equitable access to quality education for all sections of society.

Issued by: Nandita Narain, President Rajeev Kunwar, Rajib Ray, Sheo Dutt, Vice-Presidents Abha Dev Habib, Secretary Bhupinder Chaudhry, Giriraj Bairwa, Renu Bala, Jt. Secretaries Vijaya Venkataraman, Treasurer

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