The Four-year Semester System in Delhi University – A Favourable Change?

Delhi University is among the top-most universities in India. Once again, because of the implementation of the four-year semester system, Delhi University is in the limelight. According to some teachers, this change is not good as it is taken in haste and Delhi University is not prepared for the same. Others have welcomed this change and said this to be beneficial for the students. Overall, they say, the new programme will offer a greater flexibility to the students.

Of what will the four-year semester system comprise?
Students will study normal subjects plus study English language and one more Indian language from the set of modern languages in India during the first year of their degree that will consist of two semesters. In the second year, on the basis of aptitude and eligibility, students will have the option to pick subjects of their choices. After completing two years, if they wish, they can leave the course and get an associate degree. In their third year, they will study their chosen subjects and if they want to leave at the end of the year (after successfully completing the three years) a general degree certificate will be awarded to them. In fourth year, they will clear the set of traditional papers or take up a research project. After the end of four years with successful completion, an honours degree will be awarded.

Provision of exit points that have been provided after the completion of second and third year won’t be beneficial from the job perspective. These will just award a degree to a student. But on the other hand, the four year degree programme is very beneficial for the students who wish to study abroad, especially in USA, as universities there recognize only four-year degrees not the three-year one. Some students feel that quality of education will be lost as semester system has more exams. Students will always be busy preparing for exams and there will be less time for them to study and clearing the basic concepts.

To move the discussion further, the purpose of the four-year semester system must be identified. Is this system implemented just to fulfill the requirement of four-year degree in the U.S.? Or, is it adding one extra year without quality? If we really want to adopt a better quality of education and bring it to the global level, we must understand many other associated things like the option of a wide variety of subjects, flexibility in picking up major and minor subjects, a change in the course structure, accumulation of credit score over a period of time, all of which is provided in foreign universities. Delhi University, at present, has none of these but just the four-year semester system which alone won’t work with efficiency as it is perceived.

The four-year semester system is thought to bring flexibility in the entire system. Flexibility is an important aspect of American education system but not the Indian one at present. Flexibility means that students should have a wide variety of courses to choose as their major and minor subjects in the second year of their degree. Delhi University has fewer options in this field and much of the decision regarding courses is taken at the time of taking admission. So, we must find out whether this change is bringing the inflexibility of annual system or adding flexibility to the whole system. If DU is providing flexibility in terms of courses and credit points, then the four-year semester system is a good move.

In the annual system, students are assessed on the basis of  assignments/tests in each term (per course), mid-term exam and project for each course at the end of the year. In the semester system, students will be assessed on the basis of assignments/tests and quizzes for each course in each semester. This means that students will always be busy in preparing their exams rather than focusing on the subject. Some courses need intensive study and take time to understand that will not be provided through the semester system.

No doubt that India at present needs a change in the education system and it must be equal to or better than the education system of most of the developed countries. Annual system of assessing the student is no longer recommended as the students study just at the end of the year to clear exams but not gain any knowledge. The semester system, on the other hand, is a flexible academic system in which there is a great involvement of students.

To change anything that has been in place for so many years, there are bound to be lots of difficulties. The concept of converting the annual system to four-year semester system is good and beneficial for the students, but the problem lies in its aspects. More background work, full support of management and a number of optional courses along with many other things are required for the success of the four-year semester system. The new syllabus must focus towards developing skill-sets rather than just awarding a degree at the end of the course.