The Four Year Undergraduate Programme is different to any other system offered in undergraduate institutes in the country. Delhi University scrapped its traditional three-year specialisation-based system in favour of a modular American-style programme, with a number of new elements that promised to change the entire college experience:

* Multiple Exit Points:

Under FYUP, students can decide how long they want to stay in college. Each year at the university is split into two semesters. After two years, students can leave with a diploma or an ‘associate baccalaureate’. After three years, they get a Bachelor’s degree. Those who stay for the full four years graduate with an Honours’ degree.

* Foundation Courses

All students are required to take American-style introductory classes in their first year, on everything from languages, mathematics, Information Technology, and even “communication and life skills” and “integrating mind, body and heart”.

* Majors & Minors

The FYUP allows students in their first year to pick both a major area of study and a minor one, with 20 required papers for your main discipline and six exams for the latter. The subject-streams that students pick in class 11 and class 12 do not affect their choices at college level, except for sciences like mathematics or economics.

*Passing percentage

The FYUP changes the way students move from year to year. They no longer have to pass every paper just to move ahead. Instead, students need to ensure an aggregate score of 40% across subjects to move on to the next semester, an average of 45% to be able to graduate either with the 2-year diploma or the three-year Bachelor’s and a minimum of 50% to get the Honours degree.

What are the chief criticisms?

There have been a number of careful and impassioned critiques of the FYUP.

There is little clarity of why the university felt the need to switch out of a three-year system. Opponents have argued that there was too little discussion with stakeholders, particularly the college principals and teachers, who would have to implement the system. Many have also argued that the way foundation courses have been spread across the new semester system means that, despite it being a year more than the previous system, students are getting less specialised information.

The system is also aimed primarily at improving things for those willing and able to stick around for the four years. Those who don’t have the means or inclination to do so end up leaving after two years with a very limited education, or after three years having only covered limited portions of the major concentration area.

Quite a few people, including education reform advocates, agree with a modular Four Year Undergraduate Programme that could eventually include all of the flexibility of an American system. But there has been a great deal of opposition to the way DU went about implementing its programme. Courses were entirely overhauled and restructured in a matter of just two months, with the foundation courses particularly dependent on a number of ideas that have been described as ‘half-baked’.