A Guide to the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

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It was amidst a lot of apprehensions that the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) was introduced by the University of Delhi in 2016. This was an attempt on the University’s part to introduce a uniform grading system which would open doors for student mobility into institutions not only within the country but across the globe. It aims at having a student centric approach by facilitating flexibility in courses. According to the University Grants Commission (UGC), the objective of CBCS was to provide a “cafeteria approach” to education where students have the freedom to customise their own course.

The UGC  introduced CBCS so that students could adopt skills by choosing different courses to enhance their employability. The UGC considers CBCS to be a  measure “to bring equity, efficiency, and excellence in higher education.”

The credit based system has been established on an idea of interdisciplinary studies and flexibility. It allows students to take up papers outside of their specialisations in the form of the General Elective courses offered. CBCS offers three kinds of courses: core, elective and foundation. The core course may be different every semester and is studied by the students as an absolute requirement to complete a programme in a said discipline of study. The elective course can be chosen from a pool of papers. It enables the students to seek knowledge that is different from their principal course. Foundational courses, which are Environmental Studies and Communication Skills, are mandatory for all disciplines as they are based inter-disciplinary content that leads to knowledge enhancement.

The grading system is considered to be better than the conventional marking structure. It is a uniform grading system that comprises relative marking, which means that scoring is dependent upon performance in relation to that of other students rather than individual accomplishment. The system has widely been criticised for its scoring procedure as students noticed a downfall in their grades in the pilot year of implementation. The arrangement of the system is such that relative grading is based on the distribution of marks obtained by all students of a course. The grades are then awarded on the basis of a percentile. The exact percentage of the student is very difficult to determine due to this assessment procedure. The university has provided no guidelines to judge the same. The results of the students are presented in the form of a Semester Grade Point Average (SGPA) after the semester exams and Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) after every academic year. Both GPAs are a measure of the performance of work carried out by a student.

Overall,  students have a mixed opinion about this system.  According to Snehil Singh of Shaheed Bhagat Singh(M), “  It provides a constructive and comprehensive outlook and optimises the efficiency of pedagogy”.  Sanjana from Ramjas College holds the view that the CBCS is not all about choice and not all about earning credits. According to her it just partially apes the format of American universities without bringing any substantial change.  Lastly, Nimish Nanda from Deshbandhu college says, “CBCS could have been a better system if the things which are on paper, existed in reality. The University offers so many additional Skill Enhancement Courses but the colleges provide only 2 or 3 options to choose from due to lack of infrastructure”.


-Anukriti Mishra

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-Bhavya Banerjee

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