According to an analysis by the Democratic Teachers’ Front, a Left-affiliated Delhi University faculty association, large sections of the University Grants Commission’s draught curriculum framework for its new four-year undergraduate (UG) programme have been plagiarised word for word from guidelines published by the University of Michigan and the University of Arizona.
The UGC has forwarded the claims back to the expert group that created the framework, with Secretary Rajnish Jain stating that “there may have been lapses… It’s a cause of concern.”
“It is indeed shocking that the UGC Draft Curriculum Framework and Credit System for the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) stacks plagiarised phrases and sentences as motivation for different kinds of courses to be offered under FYUP,” the DTF said in its feedback on the regulations submitted to the UGC on Monday.
“Borrowed ideas, divorced from the ground realities and real needs of our education system cannot result in the reforms that will be an improvement on our present system,” said Abha Dev Habib, DTF secretary and a member of the Physics faculty at Miranda House. She pointed out that the Draft UGC document makes no mention of the sources used to create the framework or the rationale for copying it from these universities.
“We have got to know that there is some problem in the document, so we have referred it back to the expert committee and asked them to examine it and look into the problems raised and get back as soon as possible. This is only a draft, so they will make changes as required. This has come to our notice only today [on Monday],” Prof. Jain told The Hindu. “[Plagiarism] is an issue of concern. We cannot say anything until they have examined it, but there could have been certain lapses,” he added.
The UGC is responsible for guaranteeing academic integrity in higher education and has enacted strong policies to penalise plagiarism in institutions.
The UGC draught framework contained a section on the introductory courses that all students must take over the first three semesters. “The courses in these areas of learning are designed to instil an understanding and respect of all major areas of learning.”
Though students are not expected to master all subjects in-depth, they are expected to “create a cohesive picture of the key concepts, structures, and intellectual procedures that characterise each of these areas of learning,” according to the statement.
The University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) has a very identical paragraph on course prerequisites on its website. “LSA strives to create awareness and appreciation for all major areas of learning.” Students are not required to study all topics in-depth, but they should “get a coherent picture of the key concepts, structures, and intellectual procedures that characterise these fields,” according to the statement.
Numerous different sections of the UGC framework, discussing courses in mathematics, natural sciences, creative expression, and interdisciplinary courses, are substantially similar to the content on the LSA’s website, and other paragraphs appear to have been copied from academic policy documents at the University of Arizona.
On March 17, the UGC presented a draught curricular framework and requested feedback from stakeholders by April 4. The DTF protested the UGC’s input system, which only allowed for a 500-word answer, and instead produced a 12-page document outlining its concerns over the implementation of a four-year programme, alleging that it would weaken the intellectual integrity of undergraduate education.
Aside from the claims of a “cut and paste job,” the DTF warned that core courses for a major discipline would only account for 41% of total academic credits under the proposed four-year system, compared to a weightage of more than 70% under the current system.
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