Universities play a vital and critical role in the development and evolution of societies. These universities generate new ideas, encourage innovation, educate young minds and create awareness and dynamic citizens in the country. The University Grants Commission (UGC) set up a committee for university reforms which emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary, a broader background for undergraduate education, a uniform semester and credit system, a science-technology interface, the importance of enhancing skills in mathematics and languages and changes in the regulatory regimes. Hence, Delhi University introduced the “Semester System” to change the structure which will bring quantum leap in the teaching, research and innovation.
The university committee wants to improve the learning processes to benefit the students so they have introduced semester system rather than remaining with the annual system to enhance value to the students. This semester system is beneficial for number of reasons. There may be various advantages and disadvantages of semester system in education. Let’s discuss it in detail:
- It will provide an opportunity to students for continuous learning and assessment/feedback and a better paced understanding of the subject. There will more focused class interaction because of continuous engagement between students and teachers. This will provide regular study habits among students. The main advantage is that the performance would not be judged at the end of one year rather conducting examinations twice a year will help in regularly evaluating the student progress. The examination study load of the students shall be halved since they would be required to prepare half of the content as they are currently required to prepare for the final examination. As a result it would enable a more in-depth study and understanding of their concerned subjects.
- Interdisciplinary would play an important role in the way subjects are being conceptualized and knowledge integrated across diverse disciplines. Semester system would facilitate the possibility of undergraduate students imbibing relevant knowledge and skills that are not contained within the disciplinary boundaries of their primary subject areas. A semester system allows greater freedom and scope for designing and delivering a variety of courses that the students can pick flexibly to enhance the quality of their learning.
- The current situation of University of Delhi is inflexible in terms of accumulation of credits which would allow movement of students across universities in India and abroad. Students from other countries who come on short term ‘Study Abroad’ programs to Delhi University are awarded credits by their universities for studying but the same is not given by our university. Therefore, introducing a semester system will allow greater exposure to those of the students who get the opportunity to study elsewhere.
- Adopting a semester system at the undergraduate level will lead to a harmonization with the changes made at the postgraduate level as well as with undergraduate courses that are already being run in a semester system.
Some students have accepted the proposal of introducing the semester system and have a number of reasons in support of it. While some feel that the semester system will lighten the examination load since they would not be confronted with vast syllabus as in the annual examinations. In comparison with the annual system, students perceived the semester system to be favorable and continuous learning and evaluation with a better focus on the program they have opted for.
Some students and teachers are not completely in favor of the new system and feel semester system will create many unwanted challenges for the students. Some felt that the success of the semester system being closely related to adequate time available while others felt that it would overburden them. Some students were under the feeling that the system of examination would become an internal one which would lead to a lack of uniform standards. Anxiety about the less time for extracurricular activities was also spoken.
Some of the drawbacks of the semester system are as follows:
- Inadequacy of Time:
The classes under the semester system starts on July and the admission keeps on going till August, which adversely affect the proper starting of the classes. When there is no clarity in the system it have been decided that the first semester exam would be held in December. A vacation of 20-25 days before the exams implies that neither the teachers have enough time to complete the course nor the students have adequate time to prepare well for the first semester exam. While teachers in Delhi University reveal that in annual examination system, teachers have the right amount of time to complete the course and students have enough time to prepare well for the exam.
- Increasing Work Load:
The Delhi University has many departments and colleges. The declaration of result in every 6 months would double the work load of departments since semester exam implies more revaluation and on right time the declaration of results.
- No extra classes:
The new OBC quota and the existing quota for SC/ST and physically challenged students who have reserved category need special attention. The compulsory part of the yearly examination mode is to have extra classes but due to time scarcity in the semester system it is difficult to conduct extra classes. As a result, nearly 50% students of DU will suffer due to the new system.
- Reduction in Co-curricular Activities:
Earlier in the yearly examination system, students had ample time to participate in the co-curricular activities which is an essential part for the students overall development. On the contrary, in the semester examination system, very few cultural activities have been organized for the students. As a result students interested in participating in these programs will have to miss their classes and no relaxation has been provided by the university on attendance.
Both Students and Teachers believes that the Semester system effect the students and is not beneficial for them for their development. The syllabus of the semester system as resulted in the deletion of some of the important topics and chapters which are very important and vital to enhance the nature of knowledge of the student to learn.
By all theses pros and cons it has been seen that little thought have been done on the balancing the requirement of access, equity and quality. The semester system is seen by all perspective by different people and has different opinions of their own. Can this system turn out to be a lesson for the universities or of a beneficial interest in the investment of higher education?