Perfect poll plank for student unions in DU

Those who fought over FYUP last time may have another cause to take up

The Choice Based Credit System has come as a blessing in disguise for student unions, giving them ammunition to cash in on the UGC’s controversial decision while setting the stage for an intense election season. The DUSU polls are scheduled for September 11.

The implementation of the CBCS in Delhi University this session triggered protests by student wings and some teacher organisations. Pamphlets, posters and banners making references to the CBCS are hard to miss, particularly on Delhi University campus.
The politics over the newly implemented CBCS seems to intensify even after the start of the session on July 21.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s Chatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) says student unions are politicising the issue.

 “We are neither supporting CBCS nor opposing it. This does not mean we are not taking it seriously. We are in talks with experts and we will come out with a statement after we have studied this new system thoroughly,” says Anmol Panwar, state president, CYSS.

“We will also consider the opinion of students enrolled under CBCS this session. Student unions are making all sorts of statements about the CBCS but none of them are asking students what they have to say about it,” he adds.

While the CYSS has refrained from taking a stand on the issue, the RSS-affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) seems to be a staunch supporter, publicising the new system as beneficial for students.

“CBCS aims at giving more choices to students, so how can it be harmful? There are some sections of people who are criticising it to seek political gain,” says Rohit Chahal, national executive committee member, ABVP.

On whether ABVP had no choice but to support the Centre’s move to implement the CBCS, Chahal says, “It’s not like that. Students’ interests take precedence over party interests. And we didn’t just oppose the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) because it was launched by the Congress government. Under the FYUP, poor students would have to bear the burden of one more year’s fee. Moreover, it was not implemented following proper guidelines.”

“We held a meeting in Maharashtra where students from across the country took part and deliberated on CBCS. So we aren’t just supporting it for the heck of it. The only negative aspect of CBCS is that students will be spoilt for choice,” he says. “And, eventually if some issues emerge they can be dealt with accordingly.”

Polls ahead
Eyeing elections, parties are using the CBCS to catch newcomers’ attention.
“We are being approached by student unions asking us about the issues we are facing. When we say nothing, they start asking about CBCS,” says an undergraduate student at Dyal Singh College.

The introduction of the CBCS courted controversy with some student wings terming it a move to commercialise higher education. “The UGC in the name of the central government is trying to commercialise the whole higher education system. There is no clarity on CBCS. It’s only a seven-page policy document,” claims Rojil M John, president of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI).

“Through CBCS the union government is trying to push common syllabus in all central universities across the country. We don’t know who is preparing it,” he adds.

The NSUI was the last to oppose the FYUP. “We opposed FYUP a little late. When we realised it was not in favour of students, then we didn’t care about party affiliation. So don’t think we are opposing CBCS because it is proposed by X, Y government. It is a flawed system, so we are opposing it,” John says.

The NSUI says the CBCS is just eyewash. The central government’s main agenda is to implement the Common University Bill. “Government institutions will be given fixed syllabus under this bill and they will be stuck with the same syllabus. So the choice will be with private colleges and they will come up with innovative ideas to lure students,” says John.

“Chapter 20 of the bill says that any vice chancellor can write a letter to the UGC proposing to privatise his or her university. So all it takes is a letter to privatise an university,” he adds. “It’s all politics for land because land is scarce now and only educational and religious institutions have land in abundance.”

Even some teachers’ organisations have condemned the new system.
“By setting a common syllabus for all the central universities, the government is taking away the autonomy of institutions. Throughout the world, no two universities are teaching the same syllabus.

Every university is unique and preparation of syllabus is its right,” says former DUTA president Aditya Narayan Mishra, who has taken out protests against the CBCS. “Courses and syllabuses are the identities of universities, which they have been robbed of.”

Educators also say the CBCS has led to load-shedding. “Workload has gone down drastically resulting in removal of 1,000 ad hoc teachers,” says Mishra. “Earlier, there used to be 21 papers under the BA Political Science (Honours) course, but now there are only 14 papers,” he adds.

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