Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

Delhi University Four Year Degree Program Mess! Do Indian university administration mechanisms promote dictatorial tendencies?

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Delhi University Four Year Degree Program Mess! Do Indian university administration mechanisms promote dictatorial tendencies?

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Last updated on June 27th 2014

A further update:

DU Vice-Chancellor scraps FYUP "in line with the directive of the UGC"

What seemed inevitable, given the huge amount of opposition from most students and teachers and so, the HRD minister, has happened. The FYUP has been rolled back by the DU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dinesh Singh himself. Notes from :

Delhi University (DU) vice-chancellor Prof. Dinesh Singh issued the following statement:

"The University of Delhi recognises the need of the hour. It is of paramount importance to protect the interests of the students by ensuring the start of the admission process. In line with the directive of the UGC the University has decided to roll back the FYUP. Consequently the admission process shall be conducted under the scheme of courses that were in force in the academic session 2012-13 in all the colleges ofthe University of Delhi".

--- end notes ---

HRD minister tweeted:

My statement re DU- I respect autonomy of Institutions however institutions were created to serve people of the Nation. (1/2)
within ambit of law this is the time for statesmenship which leads to resolution.don't sacrifice interest of students at altar of prestige.


--- end HRD minister tweets ----

Ravi: My view is that Prof. Dinesh Singh should have realized that as scrapping the FYUP was part of the BJP election manifesto itself, that once BJP came to power, it is going to put pressure on him. If majority of students and teachers had supported him then UGC (under instructions/guidance perhaps from HRD minister) would not have issued these directives.

It is very, very sad that this matter got resolved in this shotgun fashion. But I am glad that the VC himself, in the interest of students caught up in this mess, took the decision to roll back FYUP (in line with UGC directive). That avoids further delay and legal battles giving more tension to the reported 2.7 lakh (270,000) student-applicants and parents. Prof. Dinesh Singh must be commended for this statement.


Here's an update:

UGC shows Delhi University Vice Chancellor who is the boss; A victory for majority of students & faculty of DU

See UGC Gives Ultimatum to Delhi University over Four-Year Programme, A small extract: "Officials said disobeying the UGC direction could spell trouble for Delhi University as it could stand to lose grants and degrees offered by the varsity could be de-recognised." Ravi: That's it. They can cut the funds supply after which DU may struggle to run the show! The VC will have no choice but to step down from his high horse and get down to mother earth.

I had thought then itself (around June 4th) that it was just a matter of time before the HRD minister used her powers (via bodies like UGC) to force Delhi University to roll back its 4 year degree program. How could a Vice-Chancellor of a government funded university like Delhi University think that he could get away with imposing his vision of a 4 year degree program despite strong opposition from students and faculty bodies? Having had some very unfortunate experiences of power crazy administrators in Indian academia (in a deemed university) and then done some reading up on it, I am afraid I have to say that this Stalin and Hitler type of power craze and power abuse is not uncommon in Indian academic administrators.

I should also say that I don't know enough about the 4 year degree program to say whether it is a good or bad idea. Maybe the 4 year degree program is a good idea. But then the DU top bosses needed to educate and win over its students and faculty about the 4 year degree program. Not force the program down their throats! That does not work in 21st century Indian democracy!

I am so happy to see that the key stakeholders in Delhi university namely the students and the teachers have shown Delhi University Vice-Chancellor that Delhi University is not his kingdom to run as he wants.

In today's Indian academic environment I think it is essential for top academic administrators like vice-chancellor, deans and heads of department of not only government funded universities but even private universities including deemed universities, to involve key stakeholders like students and teachers in high impact decisions that affect them deeply. Broad consensus achieved through informative and educative discussion and debate is the way forward, instead of such high impact decisions being imposed on all students, faculty and non-teaching staff by a few supposedly wise people at the top.

The damage inflicted by bad decisions and faulty vision imposed on a university by a few dictator-academic-administrators in power, especially in the case of private and deemed universities which have very limited scope for dissenting voices to be heard, can take years, perhaps decades, to recover from and to reverse.


Here's a disturbing article about Delhi University academic administration mess, Students, teachers urge HRD minister Smriti Irani to scrap DU’s 4-year degree course,

Some notes and comments:

* Two teachers unions/associations met HRD minister Smt. Smriti Irani to press for rolling back the four-year degree programme introduced last year in the face of strong opposition.
[Ravi: The fact that HRD minister held meetings with these two teacher groups is a clear indication of her willingness to look into the matter, IMHO.]

* A students union group burnt effigies of vice chancellor Dinesh Singh in DU campus.

[Ravi: My God! VC (vice chancellor) effigies were burnt! This is scary stuff! I mean, during the pro and anti Andhra Pradesh bifurcation movements lots of effigies were burnt but that was a mega-impact issue affecting people of the whole state. This is an academic issue - do things have to go so far to protest academic programme issues? I find this quite disturbing.]

* Teachers and students opposing the four-degree program say that the negatives are an additional year spent and additional financial burden on the students. A students union leader alleges that the vice chancellor was "very autocratic in introducing this programme and has not bothered to consult elected student bodies".

[Ravi: I have watched Prof. Dinesh Singh on an NDTV debate on higher education some months ago where the panel included then Minister of State for HRD, Dr. Shashi Tharoor. Prof. Singh was articulate and came across as very knowledgeable about higher education administration from a pan India perspective. He also is a big shot in NAAC, the key assessment and accreditation organization for UGC regulated educational institutions (NBA does it for AICTE regulated institutions, I believe).

But I must say that I find this furore somewhat disappointing. Can one hold Prof. Singh to blame? Has he become a dictator who is trying to impose his vision on Delhi university? His being made VC for a second term was met with furious opposition and allegations of foul play, Now we have the teacher unions trying to drag HRD minister into DU matters, even though DU is an autonomous university.

Why is it that academic administration creates such furores every now and then? Is it a lack of transparency and a lack of accountability? Are academics prone to becoming dictators when put in positions of power like Vice-Chancellor? Are there not checks and balances in academic administration mechanisms that prevent a VC from becoming a dictator and imposing his/her vision on the entire university?]


Srinivasan Ramani, June 8, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The country is facing a big challenge. Do its university degrees measure up to the world standard? We need to approach this question with more intelligence than passion. Do we want our degrees to be truly worthy of recognition, or do we merely want to use our political muscle to have them accepted as equal? I believe that true equality would be the only goal worth pursuing. Having a four year degree, in which students who have done well in the three year degree do an extra year as an option to qualify for an Hons degree is one good step towards higher standards. Along with mandatory accreditation, this can offer a flexible step towards higher quality. Huge affiliating universities may be the wrong ones to try this route first. Smaller universities should try it first.

Srinivasan Ramani

Ravi S. Iyer, June 10, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Thanks for your, IMHO, very sensible and moderate view. In this context, incremental change by giving students the option for 3-year or 4-year degree, seems to be a better approach, though I do not know how feasible such incremental change options are.

Ravi S. Iyer, June 20, 2014 at 2:42 PM

A correspondent mentioned that he believed that the Delhi university scheme did provide an option of doing a 3-year or 4-year degree.

I browsed around a bit and went through this doc.

On the face of it, it seems quite straight-forward. If you exit after 3 years you get a Bachelors degree - so that becomes the 3 year option. If you finish the 4 year degree, you get a Bachelors with Honours degree - that is the 4 year option.

However, there may be, I repeat may be, a situation here where the final year (fourth year) has the really serious and important stuff which makes one a complete graduate. So, on paper, one may be a graduate after 3 years, but the knowledge level may not be comparable to a graduate from a 3 year graduate degree university. i.e. the student going out with (only) Bachelors degree from DU may be looked down upon as an incomplete kind of graduate.

Now, I don't know what the exact picture is. For that, one needs to know real curriculum details as implemented (or planned to be implemented) in DU. I don't think that would be available publicly, at least on authorised public sites like DU website. But the teachers would know. And they have been reacting to this strongly - perhaps they have some genuine concerns. In any case, IMHO, VC of DU needs to publicly address concerns raised by his own teachers' associations. Specifically see this short extract from

The idea was to promote an interdisciplinary approach to education, but agitating teachers and students argue that the country's 10+2 school education system already allows students to choose subjects specific to their discipline, and common foundation courses in degree programmes waste a critical year besides increasing students' financial burden.

--- end extract ---

This suggests that the exit after 3 years is not being considered as a serious option by teachers. They perhaps know that the real situation on the ground is that the student has to finish the 4 year course to become a proper graduate from a knowledge point of view.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

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