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Admissions suffer as UGC, DU spar over course

The stand-off between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Delhi University (DU) over the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) continued on Monday with DU refusing to buckle under pressure.

The University Grants Commission, meanwhile, is going ahead with formalities for returning to the three-year degree after DU refused to revoke its newly introduced four-year undergraduate programme.

The Union human resource development ministry on Monday indicated it “would not intervene” in the matter. But the issue is political. The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised in its poll manifesto for Delhi that it would scrap the four-year course which it felt was unnecessary.

On Sunday, the UGC had issued a public notice asking DU to scrap the four-year course by Monday. With no clarity on the issue, several colleges, including St Stephen’s, deferred their admission procedures – putting students in the lurch .

The four-year course was introduced in the last academic year, but the UGC decided to scrap it now.

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani indicated the matter had to be settled between the UGC and Delhi University, but there were hectic parleys in her ministry in Shastri Bhavan on Monday. The ministry, it appeared, was very much in the thick of things. UGC Chairman Ved Prakash met Irani twice and also met Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur.

While ministry sources said the UGC had jurisdiction over all universities, central, state and deemed, and Delhi University had no option but to fall in line, others disagree. “The core issue here is of autonomy as Delhi University is a central university and UGC is only a regulatory authority,” said a former vice-chancellor of Delhi University who did not wish to be named.

The UGC on Monday held the first meeting of its newly constituted committee set up to enable a smooth transition of Delhi University’s undergraduate programme from four years to three. A source in the UGC said Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh had shown no signs of buckling.

Sources in the human resource development ministry said the new dispensation was categoric that the four-year course was illegal and it could be challenged in court. “The United Progressive Alliance government misled Parliament. The four-year course does not have approval of the Visitor-the President of India-nor the UGC. It should be scrapped immediately,” said a source who did not wish to be named.

“The thinking at that time was that the university had autonomy to decide its own courses and we should let it do it. However, since there were some concerns, we asked the UGC to monitor the programme,” former Human Resource Development Minister under United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government Pallam Raju told Business Standard. “Unnecessarily, a lot of politicisation is happening,” he added.

The university’s teachers are divided on the issue, with Nandita Narayan, president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, in favour of scrapping the four-year course. The association’s executive council member Aditya Narain Mishra, however, said they would approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a proposal to retain the course.

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