Confusion prevailed on Tuesday after conflicting reports emerged over the resignation of the Delhi University’s Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dinesh Singh amid an ongoing dispute between him and University Grants Commission (UGC) over scrapping of the university’s four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP).
Quoting DU’s Media Coordinator Malay Neerav, PTI reported that Singh had resigned, refusing to comply with UGC’s order. Neerav also sent an SMS to reporters, saying: “VC has resigned”. However, the human resource development ministry hasn’t received the resignation, reports said.
The UGC had directed DU to scrap the four-year course, introduced last year, by Monday and go back to the previous three-year degree system. With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government is determined to implement its poll promise of scrapping the FYUP, the VC’s resignation is being seen as the first victory for HRD Minister Smriti Irani.
Meanwhile, a section of DU teachers, led by Aditya Narayan Mishra, sat on a hunger strike on Monday protesting against the “encroachment on Delhi University’s autonomy by UGC”.
Though the ministry maintained that it was “not interfering” in the matter and it was an issue between UGC and DU, the HRD minister herself was closely monitoring the situation and meeting officials concerned.
Moments after the news of Singh’s resignation came in on Tuesday, the pro vice-chancellor of DU was summoned by the ministry to determine the future course of action.
Sources said Singh was left without any option, as UGC had pushed him to a corner. Singh refused to buckle under pressure and resigned in protest.
Singh was awarded the Padma Shree earlier this year.
While Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) President Nandita Narain welcomed the resignation, a section of teachers who supported the FYUP protested against the assault on DU’s “autonomy”.
Speaking to Business Standard, Aditya Narain Mishra, who supports the FYUP, said, “We are fighting for the autonomy of the university, and if things were to be decided at the BJP headquarters, then it would be the end of the university’s autonomy.” He said, “The VC quitting in protest has only strengthened our fight.”
Mishra and several of his colleagues had approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday, but were directed to move the appropriate authority, which is the high court.
The HRD ministry had, in an affidavit on July 23 last year, informed the Delhi High Court that it supported the new four-year undergraduate programme, and clarified the course was for those who wanted an honours degree. The fate of students continued to remain uncertain, with several colleges deferring their admission process due to lack of clarity.
Meanwhile, a day after the DU colleges’ principals association decided to defer admissions, the UGC on Tuesday said 57 of the 64 colleges under DU, including prestigious ones, have said they were complying with its directive to start admissions for the three-year programme.