A few controversies, dozens of protests and several meetings later Delhi University has implemented 12 semester-based Under Graduate courses for Science from the academic year 2010-2011.
The initial sign of change was a letter sent from University Grants Commission (UGC) suggesting academic reforms in early 2008. A subsequent proposal to introduce a semester system was sent to faculty of DU by the Vice Chancellor. Blueprint of implementation and syllabi was finalised on May 13, 2010 and conveyed to principals of all colleges by May 25. The inspiration of this development came from successful models of higher education in America and Europe.
Courses of Science like Physics, Chemistry, Statistics, Botany, Zoology, Anthropology, Geology, Bio-Chemistry, Microbiology, Anthropology, Bio-Medical Science, Nursing, Electronics, B.Sc Programme of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences will commence the bi-annual examinations with 24 papers in total, four every semester. The syllabus previously included 60 hours of lectures per subject per semester, but after much discord, it was reduced to 48 plus 12 hours of tutorials.
The new academic schedule has a 16-week long semester with mid-break from 4th to 15th October, 2010. However, preparation period and conducting examinations has been significantly reduced to 20 days starting from 20th November till 10th December. The second semester will begin from 3rd Jan, 2011 and go on uninterrupted till 16th April.
Meanwhile, sources in administration confirm that preparation of syllabus regarding semester system for the Commerce Department is in its finishing stages. This will be approved by the Academic Council. Future students of B.Com, academic session 2011-12 can expect a semester based course. As for Social Science, nothing can be ascertained as the faculty has strongly been opposing it. They question the practicality of reforms unless proper infrastructure is in place with appropriate efficiency.
Devansh Dwivedi studying Computer Science (which runs on semester system) feels keeping aside the factor of preparation, the course is quite manageable. “We have sufficient time on our hands in comparison to the students in the annual mode who cram last minute and pass even when they have a reasonably longer prep period. The syllabus is well structured for semesters and papers are well divided, even though the course is quite intensive”, he says.
Institutions such as IIT and JNU have been successfully operating on semester system while Bombay University has experimented with it in post-graduate courses.