Some universities believe 4-year programme is best for students

Like most teenagers of her age, Shivya was confused which subject to choose when she cleared her board exams two years ago. With the high cut-offs in universities, securing a decent percentage was not enough.

“Coming from a Commerce background, I wanted to study Economics. Despite scoring 82 per cent, I did not get a seat in Economics, so I decided to opt for Sociology,” Shivya Khanna says.

A third-year student at Ambedkar University Delhi now, the 20-year-old is planning to take up Economics in her fourth year as a part of the dual Major programme.

“I don’t regret taking Sociology. I never thought it would be such an interesting subject.

Since I am planning to apply abroad, 16 years of education would help me. I can get a degree in Economics too as I had always wanted,” Khanna adds.

Ambedkar University Delhi offers students a three-year undergraduate programme with the option of a fourth year. Students can attain a Major in a second subject in the fourth year.

“Those who have completed a single Major degree in three years with an overall grade of at least B-minus will be allowed to take courses in their fourth year immediately after completing their first degree,” student services dean of Ambedkar University Delhi Kuriakose Mamkoottam says.

The fourth year mainly promotes multiple level of versatility, he adds.

“An extra year often gives students the opportunity to hone knowledge and skills alike. It gives them time to be able to crystallise ideas effectively through interdisciplinary approach.”

But there are few takers of the four-year programme. In the last batch which graduated at Ambedkar University Delhi, only two students out of 39 opted for the fourth year.

Students often opt for the MA programme, unsure if an extra year in the graduation programme would be fruitful or repetitive.

So universities prefer to keep the fourth year optional.

Tarun Vohra, who is now applying to universities abroad, says a dual Major programme comes in handy for students who want to apply for higher education in other countries.

“It gives you the exposure to be acquainted with two subjects alike. You can choose subjects easily while you go for postgraduation. It also gives you the scope to establish links between two subjects, especially for humanities courses.”

Vohra recently completed his Majors in Economics and Psychology.

But while most students agree foundation courses help in honing leadership skills, few believe it is an easy ticket to get jobs. According to students, four-year programmes do not really make them ‘job ready’.

Vice chancellor of O P Jindal Global University C Raj Kumar says while employment is one of the important goals of education, it should not be considered as the only goal of an educational experience.

O P Jindal Global University is inaugurating a four-year liberal arts course in August.

While the first three years can be completed in India, the fourth or optional year can be completed in Rollins College in Florida.

Students will be required to earn a certain number of credits to be eligible.

At Shiv Nadar University, all undergraduate programmes, including courses under the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, are for four years or eight semesters.

The university, while giving students expertise in a particular subject, also offers them Minors in other courses.

For instance, a student undertaking a Major in Economics can get a Minor in Engineering, Physics or Mathematics.

The course is designed in such a way that students get an “abroad based” education foundation. Every student has to take a core curriculum subject in the fourth year.

Courses to hone leadership skills and field based learning are also a must at the university.

Amity University offers a four-year programme in Medical Biotechnology.

“The four-year BSc programme will help students, who did not have Biology or Biotechnology in their plus two, to acquire sound understanding of these two subjects.

Also, the last year involves field work to give hands-on training,” Amity Group communications vice president Savita Mehta says.

While universities outside Delhi University are not rigid over awarding a degree after a three-year course – as DU’s erstwhile FYUP suggested – the institutions are also playing around the universal selling point of equipping students with better chances of employability and expertise through an extra year.

Also, the trend of providing foreign based education has picked up pace with universities experimenting with course nomenclatures and structures alike.

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