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Modi govt looks at bringing back 4-year undergrad course, doing away with Master’s for PhD

New Delhi: Five years after it scrapped the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in Delhi University, the Modi government is now not only looking to revive it but also accord it more value.

ThePrint has learnt that the government is working on increasing the duration of all undergraduate programmes from three years to four years and subsequently doing away with the Master’s degree as the eligibility for PhDs.

A source privy to the development told ThePrint that the idea is being discussed by an internal review committee in the University Grants Commission (UGC) and a final decision on the plan is likely to be arrived at in September when the committee members meet again.

The FYUP was first introduced in India by former Delhi University vice-chancellor professor Dinesh Singh before it was scrapped.

Bringing it back is also a part of the suggestions in the New Education Policy draft. The draft, however, does not suggest doing away with the Master’s degree but making it more research-oriented. It does recommend doing away with the M.Phil degree entirely.

“The review committee discussing FYUP is an internal UGC committee on degrees. We discuss and re-evaluate the importance of degrees every few years,” said another source aware of the developments.

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“If there is a need to change something about a course or a degree, we do that. It was felt that just like engineering and medicine, which are courses of four- and five-year duration, science and humanities can also have four-year degree programmes.”

Mixed reactions to a major change

If the FYUP comes into effect and the Master’s degree is scrapped, it will be a major change in the higher education system, which currently follows a 10+2+3 pattern. This includes three-year graduation after school and a two-year Master’s programme before a PhD.

With the proposed FYUP set to bypass the Master’s degree, there have been mixed reactions to the proposal.

Dinesh Singh, the former DU V-C who introduced FYUP, backed the decision to scrap Master’s as a criterion for PhD.

“In some of the best colleges in the world, students can get enrolled in PhD after a three-year undergraduate programme as well,” Singh told ThePrint. “It’s only in India that we have made an education system so complicated.”

On the government’s idea of working on bringing the FYUP back, he said, “When I implemented FYUP in Delhi University, a lot of thought and consultation had gone behind it and even the BJP government appreciated the idea, this is the reason that they are now working on bringing it back.

“It is only a section in the government that opposed to it and not the entire government. I would not like to take any names but it was certain people in the Human Resource Development Ministry who were behind the controversy.”

The move is being backed by other DU faculty.

“FYUP is a welcome step because it will take us one step towards the internationalisation of education. It was implemented in DU in the past as well, but had to be rolled back sadly,” said professor Subodh Kumar, who teaches at Delhi University.

“However, I am not very sure how the government is going to do away with the requirement of a Master’s as a criterion for pursuing a PhD. It does not seem practically possible.”

Another professor who did not wish to be named said doing away with a Master’s as a criterion for PhD “will be a very foolish idea”.

“There are minimum standards set for admission to PhD and the new idea will disturb it all and will further comprise the quality of research in India,” the professor said.

Some students, however, see this as a welcome step.

“If students can get admission in PhD directly after B.Tech, which is also an undergraduate course, why not in other subjects?” asks Divyansh Pandey who is pursuing his Masters in Botany from a University in Jaipur. “If the government makes a provision like this and it is implemented well, it will be a positive step.”

Sonu Gulfam
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