4 year graduation at DU

SAVE DELHI UNIVERSITY! दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय को बचाओ! Critiques of the 4 year graduation, Press Reports, Campaign info

Critique of the 4-year graduation programme

A detailed critique of the 4-year graduation programme by a Professor from the Dept. of Physics & Astrophysics. This is based on the proposal that was sent to the AC (and was duly ratified).

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1) The document seems to have given most importance to those who are not sure of even the broad avenue that they wish to pursue at the time of their joining the University.
While this probably caters to a sizable fraction of the student population, an overemphasis to this sector

  • would indicate that the University disregards the fact that probably a larger fraction has made up their mind as to whether they want to do business, humanities or science;
  • disregards empirical evidence that, even in the better US universities (which, presumably, inspire this model), the majority of the students indicate their preference for a major at the time of joining the Univ (although they are not bound to do so until the second year)

2) While the structure ostensibly gives the student more time to decide on what she/he really wants to do, the courses during the first year would be of no help in such self-understanding. Note that the courses are very general in nature, and, by their very design would at best be of High School level. For example, the maths course would in no way indicate to the student what an undergraduate level maths course is really all about. Worse is the case for science in general, as there is not a single science course on offer. In other words, this medley of courses is likely to be of less use in orienting the student than the Class IX-X courses.

3) The first year courses do not offer any choice. The student would have to undergo a particular set of courses, irrespective of their inclination or even their need. This utterly militates against the philosophy of choice. Indeed, the offered structure seems to say that the students have no idea what they want and we, the teachers of the University, would tell them what they should read.

4) A good (or, even a reasonable) U.S. university on the other hand, offers a large variety of courses, and the student has an option to choose a combination that she/he feels best suits their motivation and preparation. And these courses are at various levels. For example, a first year student motivated towards doing science or engineering, could do Physics 101 (and/or Chemistry 101 / ….) while a budding Sanskrit scholar could do something like ‘Physics for Poets / Chemistry in the Homestead / ….’ Similarly, a student of Humanities could do ‘English Literature 101’ while a budding business graduate / scientist could probably do ‘Selected readings of 20th century Indian poets’. 

Note that the titles are only indicative, and intended to convey the message that the intended depth would be very different, simply because the audience is different.
This time-tested formula is very different from what the University is offering.

5) Rather than specifying the particular courses that they student must take, a reasonable University would tell them : before you graduate, you need to have amassed

  • these many credits in your ‘major’
  • these many credits in your ‘minor’
  • these many credits in, say, ‘languages / writing courses’
  • these many courses in say basic maths / sciences

‘Soft courses’ and ‘hard courses’ would have different credit ratings.

6) Courses such as ‘Indian Culture’ are notoriously difficult to run, and, even more, to examine students on. At best, these courses would only succeed in promoting rote learning, something that the University ostensibly wants to avoid.

7) Concentrating now on physics (equivalently any science) :

  • the lack of any course during the first year would effectively result in all but the most committed students to forget all that she/he learnt in High School. Thus, in the 2nd year, they would have to learn afresh.
  • The mathematics course in the first year would, at best, be of Class XI level. In fact, a large fraction of the student population would find even a Class XI level course to be terrifying. Note that the majority of students who drop maths in Class XI do not do so because they love some other subject more, but simply because they are incapable of handling even Class X level maths.
  • The remaining courses during years 2nd-4th would not be sufficient to impart the desirable level of education. Indeed, I would say that, in the proposed scheme, a student AFTER the FOURTH Yr., would, at best, be at the level of the present B.Sc. (Hons.) student. Perhaps, even worse. There is no way such a student can be given a M.Sc. in one year.
  • After the 3rd yr, such students would be ineligible for M.Sc. programmes in most good Universities within India.
  • Even after the 4th year, the students would be unlikely to do well in examinations like JAM, JEST etc. Indeed, I would feel that they would not do well in our own entrance examinations.
  • If indeed we are forced to give a one-yr M.Sc. to such students, they would do miserably in exams such as NET, JEST etc

8) Having a research component during the final year is laudable in intent, but impractical in the extreme.

  • The colleges do not have the infrastructure to run research laboratories
  • With the large numbers of students (assuming even that only 25% of students go on to the 4th year), it is virtually impossible to come up with independent and doable research projects.
  • The teachers are already hard pressed and have very little time to do keep up with the modern scientific literature (far less actual research).

This, in effect, would lead to massive recycling of “research”’ and rampant plagiarism. (Note that we already see this in the dissertations, both at the UG and the PG level).  

[As an aside, research in humanities is even more drawn out and needs access to libraries and other resources which we do not have.]

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"REFORM" or DEFORM? 4yr course startsJuly 21st, 2013

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