SEMESTER SYSTEM: To be or not to be?

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Delhi University has made life easy. All you need to do is study as final exams approach. It worked for the lazy lot, but the university seems to be heading towards a revision of plans, with talks of introducing the semester system post recommendations made by the UGC and NKC . This however has generated mixed reactions.

The Vice Chancellor in an online addressal to members of the university elaborated the rationale behind this system. Enlisting the numerous benefits, Professor Pental said that introduction of the system would inculcate better paced understanding of the subject and more focused classroom interaction. Two semester examinations would not only inculcate regular study habits among students but also eventually halve their workload, as they’d only have to prepare half of the syllabus that is presently prepared for the final examination.

Introducing this system also implies greater stress on interdisciplinary courses. While some professors and students feel it would be compartmentalizing knowledge and discouraging in depth study of any course, the upside is that undergraduate students would be imbibed with relevant knowledge outside the boundaries of their primary subject..

The supporters of this system also insist that by introducing the concept of credits, students can avail the use of short term study abroad programmes that would give them the opportunity to gain greater inter university exposure, both at the national and international level.

Introducing the semester system at an undergraduate level in Delhi University would automatically synchronise it with the prevailing system of examination at the post graduate level as well as that with the few courses already following it such as bbs and journalism.

This is not to say the system doesn’t have its detractors. At a dharna held outside the VC’s office this June, the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation had expressed concern over the excessive academic demands of the system , saying that it could take away from the students’ social and extra curricular activities.

Those against the implementation of the system also point out that it would be detrimental to the interests of teachers because the short period of a semester would hinder them from getting leave both for medical reasons and for research work. In such a situation a compromise either with the research work or the students’ syllabus would be inevitable. Conducting and evaluating two examinations a year would increase their workload immensely.

Many members of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association feel that maybe the varsity is not logistically enabled for such a transition and needs to do a lot of research before implementing it. As a teacher from Hans Raj puts it, “In principle, I think it’s a great idea. It’s a worldwide system and it would make the course more rigorous. I just hope that in our university, with so many colleges included, the authorities find the right way to implement it”. What teachers are adamant on is that the results should be declared sooner and the class hours should not be reduced.

The AIDSO had earlier insinuated that the semester system was an inseparable part of those recommendations of the Knowledge Commission, which were conducive to globalisation and liberalisation policies as it made education a salable commodity while simultaneously adapting the system to suit the market economy. They feel that in the name of imparting quality education the character building aspect of the process would be destroyed merely making education a saleable product.

Students are keen on this change but confused about its implications. A student from Hindu college says “This would leave me with no time for ECA and I can’t promise so much regularity.” On the other hand, a student from SRCC approves of it saying ‘It would make our study pattern more flexible, making it parallel to other universities in and around India and allowing movement across universities.”

The students already in colleges with the semester system have something else to say. According to a student pursuing B.Tech (IT) from Kurukshetra University, “The system is good but there’s the pressure of exams coming up every 6 months after which new subjects are introduced. At the end of the day, you don’t feel satisfied with the amount of time you are able to give to each subject”. Another student from IP college feels that “it gives us two chances in a year to improve on our own marks and we don’t have to study as many units as other colleges in one go”.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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