Resisting the Assault on Delhi University

Delhi University (DU), one of the largest public funded universities in the country, is facing yet another massive neo-liberal assault. Close on the heels of the introduction of the semester system, DU has now forcibly put in place the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) – a programme that goes against the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework and which will further compromise egalitarian and quality education in DU.

Along with many teachers’ organisations and the DUTA, AISA and Left and Democratic Teachers’ Federation (LDTF) have been protesting against FYUP – campaigning extensively to expose the VC’s dubious claims of “employability”, “flexibility” and “multidisciplinary approach” of the FYUP. The VC, who has scuttled all democratic decision-making processes in the Delhi University to somehow push through the FYUP with practically no serious debate with DU teachers and students, has now taken to holding “open sessions” to promote the FYUP. It has been widely noted and reported that at these so-called “open sessions”, the DU administration been inflexibly closed to the anxious queries put forward by the parents and teachers. In fact, contradictory information was provided, and several serious issues were completely sidestepped.

During each one of these open sessions held so far (including three at the DU North Campus and one at the Tagore International School), AISA activists campaigned amongst the students and teachers, interacting with them, and distributing pamphlets explaining the real consequences of the FYUP. Serious concerns have been raised by noted intellectuals and teachers regarding the FYUP. The FYUP means that students will have to bear the financial burden of an extra year for a BA Honours degree – in a campus were several thousands of students pay Rs 10-12000 every month for food and lodging alone, this will result in a huge financial burden for students. Students will have to wait for one more year before they can begin looking for jobs, or pursue higher education. And of course now students will bear the brunt of huge incompatibility and lack of “equivalence” with other BA degrees offered by other universities.

For the new students seeking admission in DU, the so-called “multiple exit” points (a single BA/BSc/B.Com course which a student can leave after 2 years with a Diploma, after three years with a Bachelor degree and after four years for an Honours degree) are major source of confusion. As a result of these multiple exits, if a student leaves after 2 or three years, he/she would have had an incomplete education and would not have taken all the required “main discipline” courses. Moreover, the poorly designed FYUP curriculum will actually reduce the quality of education by reducing the main discipline courses and instead introducing ‘foundation’ courses which will do nothing to improve the students’ disciplinary training. Writing assignments, which was an essential and important part of DU’s programme, has been completely removed. The VC has also introduced a highly discriminatory idea of opening a “School of Open Learning” for students who cannot afford an education in DU’s regular programmes.

When all these facts were explained to students, several students strongly felt that the FYUP programme will actually institutionalise the drop-out rates in DU, and will lead to a highly undesirable social discrimination amongst students. Moreover, this FYUP programme has been introduced with absolutely no planning. No new classrooms have been constructed to accommodate students for one more year, at a time when in any case DU is facing a serious infrastructure crisis. To top it all DU is also facing a serious faculty crisis: not a single new teacher has been recruited in the past three years, 5000 permanent posts are lying vacant, and through the FYUP programmes and DU administration is planning to render the position of ad-hoc teachers even more precarious.

Teachers and students in Delhi University will continue campaigning against the FYUP. Since the FYUP is an integral part of the UPA’s neo-liberal regime, it is important to hold the UPA responsible too for this latest assault, and not just an autocratic VC. Therefore, several student organisations including AISA recently held a massive protest at the resident of the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. In the coming days too, each “open session” by the VC will be used to campaign against his lies and forcible implementation of the FYUP.

Liberation Archive