Recently the Youth Incorporated Magazine very magnanimously gave the University of Delhi a place in the top 100 Universities in the World. Now, being a student of a prestigious college in DU should’ve been a joyous occasion for me. But the report left me with a certain amount of skepticism. Such laurels may get DU to slacken. We are undeserving of being alongside doyens like Harvard, Oxford and the likes in the same rankings. We are not there yet. Not by a far mile. Here are five reasons why:
1. FYUP: The FYUP or the Four Year Undergraduate Program is our dear VC’s brainchild. Perhaps one of the first of such programs in liberal arts and bachelor of science courses in a central university, the FYUP is supposed to be a ground breaking change ushering in a new dawn in the Indian Education System. It is supposed to have a couple of foundation and disciplinary courses and a system of minors and majors, giving the students a range of subjects to study from and making them more industry ready. Sounds good on paper but here’s the truth about FYUP. The Foundation and Discipline courses have subjects that do not test the rigours of one’s intellect. You have courses like Mathematical Awareness which ask students questions like, ” express 28 as the sum of two prime numbers” (the answer is 11 and 17 if you’re wondering). The FYUP has removed all papers that question mainstream theories (like the American History paper, previously a popular choice or the paper on Feminist Theory) and introduced courses like Integrating Mind, Body and Heart which are glorified Moral Science classes. And while there are multiple exit options (you can exit in year 2 or 3 as well with various forms of your degree being awarded- Associate Baccalaureate, etc. ), in this process the student is essential not engaging in meaningful discourse in their four years as their predecessors did in three years. It’s an added burden on students from economically weaker sections. And industry ready? I think not. The FYUP is an experiment gone horribly wrong and it needs major changes. Just giving a fancy tag to the degree doesn’t make it more valuable.
2. Accommodation Woes: Every top university in the world is known to go out of their way to make sure that the students have adequate and affordable housing either on or off campus. Sadly, it is not so for Delhi University. Most colleges do not have any hostels. The ones that do, do not have it for all the out station students. In the process, a thriving paying guest business has cropped up, which is exploiting the loophole in the system and fleecing students while providing subpar services. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs for us are roti, kapda aur makan. If these needs are not satisfied we cannot satisfactorily pursue nobler goals and needs like higher education (self-actualization, etc.). Sometimes even faculty is evicted from their housing on unfair grounds. Repeated manifestos of DU Student Unions have failed to solve this problem. DU needs to realize the importance of better housing for its largely migrant student body and do something about it soon.
3. Obstinate refusal to listen to alternative view points: DU’s mostly VC till now are known to be someone who holds lavish 1000 audience sabhas with students and selectively closed door meetings with teachers. This creates an environment in which the VC can dodge uncomfortable questions. Hence the problems of students and teachers remain largely unheard while the admin is able to force down upon us any kind of ridiculous rules and regulations while voices of dissent are suppressed.
4. Ridiculous examination rules: In another example of lets suppress any voices of dissent because we can do no wrong attitude, DU has come up with ridiculous examination rules. The revaluation system has been removed. The fees for retotalling are ridiculously high in order to discourage students. The system of improvement papers have effectively been removed. The system of correction wherein one paper is checked by four teachers is amazingly stupid. In this hullabaloo DU administration is effectively taking the power away from its students. Its an inconvenient truth that DU refuses to acknowledge.
5. Racism: This one thing is the fault of any element of DU- students, teachers, administration (or perhaps Delhi and India at large?). There is widespread racism and discrimination against students from north east, south, Africa, Asia, and any other part of the world which is not ‘mainland India’. Simply because they may look, eat or dress differently we ‘other’ them. Many people in DU find it very difficult to embrace the spirit of inclusivity and take advantage of the diversity in DU. Instead it is a common woe of many that they are the brunt of jokes and snide remarks, and sometimes even violence. It does not hold well for such an enlightened place of learning to be the place where such prejudices are harboured.
Having said all of the above, I’d still hold that DU is one of the best places for learning in college. We should then ponder that if such gaping holes exist in such a hallowed portal of learning what then is the condition of the rest of the Universities in India?
– Columnist, Hello Dilli