Delhi University: What the new DU curriculum looks like and why it is being opposed

DU is planning major changes to its undergraduate curriculum – BA, BSc, BCom – in line with NEP 2020. It has also adopted CUCET for DU admissions

Delhi University: What the new DU curriculum looks like and why it is being opposed Delhi University teachers said that there are no additional funds availabe for the excess intake of students (source: Wikimedia Commons)
Atul Krishna | Jan 22, 2022 - 4:15 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Delhi University, on Friday, released the draft of the new undergraduate curriculum framework based on the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

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The undergraduate curriculum framework 2022 proposes structural changes to the existing curriculum. Along with providing options for multidisciplinary courses, the syllabus also introduces the multiple exit option and an additional fourth year for students.

The multiple exit option will allow students to drop out after the first, second and third years with a certificate, diploma and a degree respectively. The additional fourth year will have a compulsory dissertation. The curriculum has also reduced credits for both individual papers as well as for the overall course till the third year.

The changes, however, were not received well by many Delhi University (DU) teachers who argued they dilute the quality of the courses. They also said that the changes will “institutionalise” short-term contractual jobs and add additional burden to students whose education was already disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

DU: New curriculum

As per the draft, the university has proposed the following changes to a Bachelor’s (Honours) course.

The different types of courses in the curriculum are Discipline Specific Core or core courses, Ability Enhancement Courses (AEC), Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC), Value Addition Course (VAC) and Discipline Specific Elective (DSE).

Proposed UG curriculum framework based on NEP 2020

Current Learning Outcome-based Curriculum Framework for UG

Four credits per paper for core course

Six credits per paper for core course

Two credits per paper for AEC and SEC

Four credits per paper for AEC and SEC

Students in their first two semesters will have 44 credits including:

  • 6 core courses

  • 2 general elective papers

  • 2 AECs of choice

  • 2 SECs of choice

  • 2 VACs of choice

Students in their first two semesters will have 44 credits including

  • 4 core courses

  • 2 general electives

  • 2 AEC

Students in semesters 3 and 4 will have 44 credits including:

  • 6 core courses

  • 2 DSE or general elective or both of choice

  • 2 AECs of choice

  • 2 SEC or internship, apprentice, community outreach or both

  • 2 VACs of choice

Students in semesters 3 and 4 will have 56 credits including:

  • 6 core courses

  • 2 general elective

  • 2 SECs

Students in semesters 5 and 6 will have 44 credits which includes:

  • 2 core courses

  • Choice between 3 DSE; 2 DSE and I GE; 2 GE and I DSE; and 3 GE in each semester

Students in semesters 5 and 6 will have 48 credits which includes:

  • 4 core courses

  • 4 DSE

132 total credits for 6 semesters

148 total credits for 6 semesters

Students in semesters 7 and 8 will have 44 credits which includes:

  • 2 core courses

  • Choice between 3 DSE; 2 DSE and I GE; 2 GE and I DSE; and 3 GE in each semester

  • One Dissertation on major or minor course in each semester or one academic project/entrepreneurship in each semester

The course concludes in 6 semesters and has no option for additional two semesters

  • Option to exit with certificate in the discipline after completing 44 credits in the first two semesters

  • Option to exit with undergraduate diploma after completing 88 credits in first four semesters

  • Option to exit with bachelor of honours degree on completing 132 credits in six semesters

  • Exit with bachelor of honours with research in major or minor discipline; or bachelor of honours with research/academic project/entrepreneurship

No option to exit prior to completing six semesters.

Reduced quality, lack of funds

DU teachers, however, said that the new proposed curriculum will compromise the quality of the courses by employing a one-size-fits-all approach.

“The proposed UG programme tries to impose a 'one-size-fit-all' policy on every course offered by the university irrespective of the individual needs and customised requirements of different courses. This is academically not feasible and compromises quality and rigour of various courses,” said Rudrashish Chakraborty, associate professor, department of English, Kirori Mal College.

Questions were also raised about the practicality of the multiple exit system. Teachers said students dropping out in the first year should ideally have a targeted syllabus with employable skills rather than allotting the same syllabus as those who will complete the entire degree. They also said that the additional one year is not adding any value to the degree.

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“The 'Multiple Entry-Exit System' (MEES) within the same structure is an academically unviable project. It imparts no genuine employable skill to the students who exit after one or two years since such students require a more rounded academic structure. Similarly, for those who stay back to complete the course, there's no added value, especially in the fourth year as the student has to spend 33 percent more time and money to get the same degree,” said Chakraborty.

“While flexibility may not lead to meaningful degrees, it will reduce the role of institutions in providing a credible framework. This will also result in institutionalising short-term contractual jobs. Research has been made a compulsory component. This will generate project shops and "cut and paste" research at mass level. Research should come as one of the optional papers as the way it is currently offered,” said Abha Dev Habib, physics teacher at Miranda House and former elected member of DU Executive Council.

Teachers also said that no college in DU has the “wherewithal and the infrastructural facilities” to accommodate students in the fourth year. They also said that no additional funds have been sanctioned to colleges to help with this.

DU Syllabus: Multiple drafts

DU has released similar drafts of the UG curriculum which incorporates NEP 2020 earlier also. Teachers said that all these drafts had huge variations from each other. They also said that the current draft seems to be at odds with what was proposed by the UGC.

"This is the 4th such template floated by DU within this last year, in order to introduce NEP with effect from academic year 2022-23. Each draft has varied wildly on fundamentals such as course structure…This particular draft has not even been discussed in the Academic Council," said Mithuraaj Dhusiya, member of the DU Academic Council.

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“The Executive Council approved a framework with 196 credits on August 31 amidst dissent. In December, the university circulated to colleges and Departments two more draft FYUP frameworks - of 184 and 164 credits. This is the fourth model. While the UGC seems to be bringing guidelines for a FYUP of 160 credits,” said Dev Habib.

Teachers also questioned the decision to reduce credits for the core, AEC and SEC papers.

“The proposed UG programme in the given document is a major dilution of academic rigour and quality owing to the reduced number of credits of courses , both individually and in aggregate. Each Core paper gets 4 credits instead of 6 as present and the AEC and Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC) get 2 credits instead of the present 4. Moreover the students get 132 credits after 6 semesters in the proposed programme instead of 148 in the present structure. Moreover this document does not specify the credits to be allotted to courses with practicals and the relationship between lecture hours and credits,” said Chakraborty.

Instability, Lack of teachers

Teachers said that constant academic reforms at DU over the years has caused fluctuation and instability in the workload of teachers.

“Since 2010, the University of Delhi has introduced a series of academic reforms including semester system (2010-11) FYUP for only DU (2013) which was subsequently withdrawn (2014) and then CBCS (2015). These repeated changes in the academic structure of the UG courses led to a perpetual fluctuation and instability in the workload of the teaching faculty,” said Chakraborty.

FYUP is the four year undergraduate programme, which was introduced in DU in 2013 and subsequently scrapped in 2014. CBCS is the choice-based credit system that is currently in place in DU.

Teachers said that the proposed restructuring will cause an increase in short-term contractual staff.

“The number of adhoc faculty in University of Delhi across disciplines increased from 10% in 2010-11 to 50% in 2020-21. This happened only because the university administration did not ensure permanent appointments of teachers against the substantive vacancies on the grounds of perpetually unstable and fluctuating workload owing to the non-stop academic restructuring,” said Chakraborty.

“The exit policy after each year will keep the teacher-student ratio perpetually unstable, amounting to fluctuating workload. This will lead to a situation where only a core group of teachers will remain permanent and the bulk of the teaching positions will be occupied with short-term contractual staff,” said Chakraborty.

They also said that the instability will adversely affect students who already had their education disturbed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The current batch of Class 12 students had enough instability in terms of their crucial years getting affected by the pandemic. It will not be fair to force rushed exercises of CUCET and FYUP on them,” said Dev Habib.

CUCET is the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET), a common entrance test for admission into all central universities. The CUCET is proposed to be introduced from the academic year in all central universities including DU.

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