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DU toes UGC line, rolls back course duration

After several days of a bitter standoff with the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Delhi University (DU) agreed to roll back its controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) and return to the three-year degree course. The move gave much relief to lakhs of students, who were waiting for admissions to various colleges in Delhi, as the admission process had come to a halt after the row erupted.

Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh, who was in the eye of the storm, finally broke his silence on Friday and, in a statement, said “In the interests of students” DU was reverting to the previous scheme of 2012-13. The turnaround came after UGC issued another directive to DU.  Admissions to 64 colleges under DU should have started on June 24. In his statement, the VC said, “It is expected that the principals of our colleges shall assist in devising and ensuring a speedy completion of the admission process.”  Admissions are unlikely to kick off as early as Monday since a 12-member committee of college principals is formulating admissions under the three-year format and will take a few days to come up with its report.

DU Registrar Alka Sharma said, “The Vice Chancellor has appointed a committee of principals that will devise the modalities for admissions and advise and monitor all admission-related issues in colleges so that the process of admissions to undergraduate courses for 2014-115 is completed in the shortest possible time and in a smooth manner”.

While the news was welcomed by all stakeholders, there were growing demands for the resignation of the Vice Chancellor. Voices within the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) demanded that Singh had “no moral right to continue” and “must he held accountable.” Sections of students also were demanding that Singh should step down.

DU on Thursday had proposed a compromise formula to end the stalemate. It proposed having a three-year honours programme but incorporating several features of the old semester format and reducing the existing courses that are not of the honours stream under FYUP. The UGC rejected the suggestion and asked the university to comply with its order.

Meanwhile, there is no clarity on B Tech students admitted under the FYUP last year. On being asked about the fate of students, Pro-VC Sudhish Pachauri said, “As of now the statement of the VC is our text. We do not know anything less or more.”

Meanwhile, Aditya Narayan Mishra of the Academics for Action and Development, who were supporters of the FYUP, said they would still continue their agitation because their “fight is to protect the autonomy of the university”. “The UGC and the HRD ministry have worked together to undermine the autonomy of the university and we cannot allow that.”

With the BJP clearly in favour of scrapping the FYUP, the VC’s climb down is perceived to be a victory for HRD Minister Smriti Irani. She was ostensibly “not been interfering” in the issue, but was very much in the thick of things, with the UGC in constant touch with the ministry on the issue.

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