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New Delhi: The University of Delhi (DU) on Friday withdrew the controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP), clearing the way for colleges under its jurisdiction to resume admissions for the 2014-15 academic session from Monday.

The university’s climbdown after a week-long faceoff with regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) sets the stage for colleges to resume the process to admit about 54,000 students.

Soon after human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani said the university must not “sacrifice the interest of the students at the altar of prestige", DU said the three-year format has been restored.

“In line with the directive of UGC, the university has decided to roll back the FYUP," vice-chancellor (VC) Dinesh Singh said in a statement. “Consequently, the admission process shall be conducted under the scheme of courses that were in force in the academic session 2012-13 in all colleges of the university of Delhi," Singh added. He said the interest of students was paramount, and appealed to all college principals to start the admission process.

“The University of Delhi recognizes the need of the hour. It is of paramount importance to protect the interests of students by ensuring the start of the admission process," he said.

The four-year programme was introduced in 2013, though some teachers were always opposed to it, saying the university has merely stretched the three-year course to four years and added 12 foundation courses.

Though UGC did not object last year, it sent several directives to the university beginning last Saturday to scrap the course and revert to the earlier format. The UGC orders said the new course was not in sync with India’s national education policy which advocates a 10+2+3 format.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had refused to intervene in the matter, asking petitioners to approach the Delhi high court. UGC sent several directions, including one on Friday morning, to the university asking it to immediately revert to the three-year format.

Reactions in the academic community were mixed.

While some teachers celebrated the vindication of their stand, those supporting FYUP were of the view that the university’s autonomy was compromised due to political interference.

“This is the saddest day in the history of Delhi University. The academic autonomy was trampled from the political headquarters," said Aditya Narayan Mishra, a professor and former president of the Delhi University Teachers Union (DUTA). “If a university cannot decide the course and content of study, then who can? How can UGC and the HRD ministry micro-manage the university," he questioned.

Those who were against the FYUP termed it a victory of the autonomy of the people, of students who were demanding it. “Politics is not a bad word. We have to think what people want...that's why both the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) spoke about the roll-back in their election campaigns during the general election," said Rajeev Kunwar, a professor at Dyal Singh College.

Kunwar said that the focus is on completing the admission process of the forthcoming batch and how the previous batch who were admitted to the four-year course can be accommodated to complete their degree in three years.

“A committee of principals has been set up who will announce the fresh dates for admission beginning Monday. There is another committee who will look at converting the four-year course to three years for those students who got admitted last year," said Kunwar.

Bachelor of Technology (B-Tech) students will suffer the worst, Mishra said. Last year, the university had started the B-Tech programme in at least 10 colleges and less than 1,000 students were pursuing it, Kunwar said.

“We want a four-year course—the foundation courses were good, at least for me. I learned from history to communication skills and it does help students," said Ridhi Gupta, a B-Tech student.

B-Tech students fear that if it is converted to a three-year course, the certificate will not have much value, and if they turn out to be the only batch, it will affect their job prospects.

However, some professors said that it’s the groupism and politics among teachers that are affecting the university. “I know some are having this argument, but DUTA has helped teachers find a voice. Some people close to the VC are feeding wrong information," said Kunwar, a member of DUTA.

“It’s politics by some people in the HRD ministry and the UGC chairman that have hampered Delhi University in the last two years and trampled our democratic views," he said. Mint could not reach the UGC chairman despite several attempts to reach him on his mobile phone.

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