Association of Students for Equitable Access to Knowledge (ASEAK) has been formed in the light of increasing restrictions on access to affordable reading material- specifically the lawsuit by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis on Rameshwari Photocopy Services in Delhi University on charges of copyright infringement. The Association has been, among other things, struggling against growing privatisation and commercialisation of higher education. With this perspective, we see the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) as a reform which has been designed to push forward the agenda of serving private commercial interests. And the implementation of such a regressive programme could only have been autocratic, which the events of last few months have demonstrated. Following are the grounds on which ASEAK rejects the FYUP, apart from condemning the absolute high-handed and authoritarian method of its implementation:
# Multiple-exit points and the question of drop-outs: The concept of multiple-exit points in the course, which has been harped upon as promoting students’ freedom to choose and decide, blatantly institutionalises already existing inequities in higher education. Multiple exits in the course accordingly ‘grade’ the course. So clearly, a 2-years course will be less valuable than a 4-year course. And the ‘freedom’ to complete it two years or four is really a question of who has the means to afford it. Higher education for many female students is a struggle, and they will be the first to be asked to take a token degree and discontinue education. Multiple-exit points is simply an exercise in making denial of education a formal system.
Further, the multiple-exit points scheme is being projected as a solution to the high drop-out rate (30%, according to ‘studies’, as the Vice Chancellor claims: there is no systematic study of the matter). That a University doesn’t tackle the reasons why students are forced to drop-out and institutionalises ‘dropping-out’ lays bare their agenda of making education exclusive.