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As reported in Times of India dated January 3, 2012, the University of Delhi seems to be mulling on yet another change in the existing system for the undergraduate courses. Prof Dinesh Singh, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University released a statement in today’s newspapers to the effect that from 2013 onward, the Honours courses for BA, B.Com and BSc streams would now take four years for completion rather than three. This move was justified by Prof Singh in that it would cater to the students’ growing urge to study other and varied courses than their subject of specialization.

Under the revamped system, it has been said, the students will all be engaging with courses of general studies for their first years and then choose their fields of specialization for their second year course. In case a student, due to reasons whatsoever, wishes to drop out following the second year, they shall be awarded a diploma if they go in for skill- based subjects. In case they wish to leave college after their third year, a general degree shall be presented and on completion of all four years, the student will receivea specialized degree equivalent to the present-day honours.

Rajesh Kumar Jha, faculty member of the Political Science Department at Rajdhani College, also a member of the Delhi University Academic Council has said that this is a move which needs to be contemplated on and deliberated on with great detail. He believes that the move, though not to be completely rubbished at this embryonic stage, is one that displays great hurry on part of the University decision-makers to force through reforms on the existing system of education.

With the semester still at its infancy, replete with teething problems, this new decision to introduce a whole new system just two years after the semester system begins functioning is a little precariously poised, many think. Some are of the opinion that this may be looked at as a ploy on the University’s part to somewhat Americanise the education scenario here, as it’s known publicly that the graduation courses offered in the USA are extended over a period of four years. However Mr Jha comments that the job market in the nation is not conducive for absorbing 20 year olds with only diplomas unlike the West, which seems well equipped to do likewise.

Another compelling concern seems to be regarding the rate DU appears to be throwing the spate of reforms considering that the systems in place have been functionally successfully for decades now. It sill needs to be determined why there is such a pressing need to change the three year undergrad course into a four year programme, the lateral effects of which may be felt on the post-graduate courses too which are as of now compatible with a system of three-year UG courses.

Commenting on this issue also gets tough because neither the official blueprint for this system, nor the official communication explaining the terms and conditions for this proposed makeover have been made available, even to the members of the Academic Council. Even  as Prof Singh’s comments in today’s newspapers commented on the growing demand of Sanskrit students and academicians in Germany and elsewhere and how the new system would enable the Sanskrit (H) students to be able to excel in their own fields and simultaneously learning how to reach out to the West with their indigenous knowledge,, the Head of Department for Sanskrit  of Delhi University, Prof Mithilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, denied any knowledge of this proposal’s existence and declined further comment until official communication would be delivered to him.

While Prof Singh comments indicate that a similar credit system would be put in place to empower the students to get transfers to foreign Universities, the actual method to do so has been kept in the dark.

As DU experiences the first results of the uniform semester system, much chaos has been afoot, with RTI’s being filed and students being appalled and teachers flummoxed at the result; the worry remains whether the proposed change into a four-year course will also lead to a fluctuation in the method of academic course from among the choices of the annual mode or the semester mode.

Amidst all this, today’s statements seem highly unclear being unsubstantiated by official sources as to the clarity of the objective. Teachers and students alike are now waiting for the Vice Chancellor and his team to un-fog the future with some swift planning and set the wheels in motion for subsequent debates.