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How different is the program from a 3-year bachelor’s degree? Will DU follow new standards?

The next academic year, from July 2023, will be conducted for all higher education institutions under the newly formulated Four-Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP) by the University Grants Commission, notified today.

Undergraduate students enrolled this year are eligible to transfer to FYUP from the next session, which allows for more flexibility with multiple entry and exit options within the program, as per the prepared concept document “Curriculum and Credit Framework for the undergraduate program’ by the UGC, which is seen by News18. The draft will be released into the public domain Monday afternoon, officials said.

The FYUP has been drawn up in line with the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, focusing on competence-based education and a multidisciplinary approach, together with a graded exit plan for UG students.

What are the changes under the new standards?

Under the new standards, students receive academic recognition based on the number of years they complete a course.

Honors degree only upon completion of four years: Students still have the choice to take a three-year UG degree with a minimum of 120 credits, while they can only earn an honors degree after completing four years with a minimum of 160 credits, which was not the case under the current system, according to the document. Currently, an honors degree is awarded after completing three years of training.

However, some institutions such as Delhi University, which have already adopted FYUP from the 2022 academic session, criticized the move, claiming that they will continue to offer honors degrees to students who complete three years of undergraduate program as before.

DU saw massive protests from both students and faculty in 2014 when FYUP was first proposed to be implemented under the first term of the NDA-led government. However, continued protests forced the Union government to reverse its decision.

Many other universities such as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Lucknow University have also adopted FYUP before launching it across the country. According to UGC officials, these institutions will have to align their four-year program with the one set by the regulator.

Provision for an honors (research) degree: “Students who achieve 75% of the grades and above in the first six semesters and who want to do research at Bachelor’s level can opt for a research stream in the fourth year. They should do a research project and get a UG (Honours with Research) degree, ‘according to the design.

Multiple entry and exit options: Under FYUP, each year is divided into two semesters. If students stop after a year (with 40 credits), they receive a RUG certificate. Those who leave after two years (with 80 credits) are eligible for a RUG diploma, and those who graduate after three years (with 120 credits) are eligible for a bachelor’s degree.

Students who leave before three years can re-enter within three years of their departure and must complete the program within a specified period of seven years. Only after they complete four years are students eligible for a bachelor’s degree with honors or research, the document said.

In addition to a minor, students can take two courses: A major discipline is the core subject in which the student will earn the degree. It contains 50% of the academic credits while the minor discipline is for students to gain a broader understanding than the major. For example, a student who takes economics and earns a minimum of 12 credits from a number of statistics courses will receive a BA degree in economics with a minor in statistics. Students can do two majors at the same time, one of which can be online and they get two degrees, a reform that has already taken effect from this year.

What UGC chairman says and other points of contention?

Prof M Jagadesh Kumar, who heads the UGC, said the new undergraduate structure aims at getting students ready for work and increasing their employability, which was lacking in the current structure. It includes internships, courses from other disciplines, language courses, skills courses and a series of courses on environmental education, understanding India, digital and technology solutions, health and yoga, sports and fitness. At the end of the second semester, students can decide to continue with their chosen major or to change majors.

“Regarding the honors degree, you have to see that today almost 60% of jobs depend on the credits you have, not on the nomenclature of the degree. In the social sciences, for example, we need to equip students with skills that will make them job-ready after they complete a bachelor’s degree,” says Kumar.

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