The fate of thousands of students applying for admission to Delhi University (DU) appeared to hang balance on Monday as uncertainty over the course duration gave way to stalemate. The Delhi University Principals' Association decided to hold admissions until such time as clear guidelines are issued.
The University receives more than 2 lakh applications from students across the country for its 54,000 undergraduate seats every academic year. In 2013, the University, an autonomous body headed by the President, turned its three-year program for undergraduates into a four year one amid much controversy. At the time, the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is primarily responsible for giving grant money to educational institutions, had approved of DU's Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP). However, on Sunday the UGC put 70 colleges in a Catch 22 situation when it asked the University to switch back to the three-year program, failing which it would stop grants to DU colleges. Although the UGC, which enjoys the backing of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), has no authority to dictate conditions to the University, its order lead to utter confusion over the fate of the course.
On Monday, the Commission and the University's contradictory stance upset the admission schedule after the Principals' Association put on hold its first cut-off list, which was to be released today, until clear guidelines emerge. The University is also likely to approach the courts against the UGC on its arbitrary stand.
"The UGC guidelines are in conflict with the University guidelines,"said SK Garg, President of Principals' Association. "The colleges have decided to defer the admission process, till the time they receive guidelines from a competent authority."
The BJP-led government had promised to roll back the FYUP program in its election manifesto for the 2014 general election. While the HRD ministry is not directly involved in the matter, minister Smriti Irani is in favour of the three-year program. On Monday, she met UGC Chairman Ved Prakash, and is learnt to have told him to resolve the matter at the earliest. Prakash then held a meeting with the University's Standing Committee asking it to break the deadlock. However, since UGC holds little legal ground on the issue, it has only directed the University to make its stance clear. Incidentally, there is precious little that the University can do itself since the FYUP was only started after passage of an ordinance. As such, DU does not have the mandate to admit students into a three-year program.
"The Delhi University has been created by an Act of Parliament, and as such the decisions taken by the Academic Council and Executive Council of Delhi University cannot be overruled by the UGC," said former Delhi University Teachers' Association President Aditya N Misra, adding that the ministry and Commission's move amounts to killing the University's autonomy. Incidentally, the teachers body had earlier opposed the manner in which the FYUP program was being introduced.
Misra also said that only the President of India, who is the head of the University, can revoke the decision. "The FYUP was passed more than a year ago. It has been implemented only after the President's approval."
Sources said that Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh may be asked to resign by the HRD ministry. "However, legally neither the UGC nor the ministry has any mandate to roll back the university program or sack the VC, who has a fixed term of five years. The administration will move court," said the University Registrar office.