Every year, the prestigious Department of Political Science, University of Delhi admits around 500 students in M.A Political Science (2 years Classroom Programme).
During these two years, students are not exposed to any research paper. So, technicaly, every year, Delhi University produces around 400-450 Political Science postgraduates with no research and writing skills (there are exceptional 60-70 students every batch who by their own sheer hard work and self studies have managed to learn the research skills).
I am priveleged to be a post graduate from this department. But during these two years, I noticed a number of academic backwardness in the department.
The quality of any course or programme can be judged at first sight through its syllabi.
Fortunately, this year, the syllabus of M.A Political Science has been revised. But my batch and the batches before us studied a course based on a junked syllabus that was prepared 5-6 years back with no updation and improvements.
The problem is with the number of students admitted every year. Even if Research papers were introduced, it becomes impossible for the teachers to evaluate 500 research works.
The purpose of admitting 500 students is lost if the university fails to produce quality post graduates.
In the final year, spread in two semesters, students are given 46 optional papers from which they have to opt 6 papers in the last two semesters. In the final year, students are distributed across these optional papers. Now few of the teachers offer the students to submit term paper (research paper) for Internal Assessment.
But the students do not get appropriate guidelines on how the research is to be conducted. Its a matter of just 25 marks and students too do not take it seriously. They just copy paste some of the already available works online and submit these plagiarised work few hours before the deadline. Students are not warned of the possible consequences of plagiarism.
There is no mechanism to check plagiarism in the department.
I have been lucky. Before joining this course, I had finished my PG Diploma in English Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). We had one proper research module in the last semester. I had acquired all the necessary research and writing skills from IIMC only.
Secondly, I had an unfinished academic stint at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). I had to drop out in the last semester because of some personal reasons. But students were taught in two semesters about research and the university is well equipped with softwares and tools to check plagiarism.
‘I could not Answer questions on Research Methodology at the M.Phil Entrance Exams’ : A passed out student from the Department
One of my friends who appeared for various M.Phil entrance exams told me that 25-50% of the questions were on research methodology. Though he was aware of the entrance exam syllabus, he could not give an in-depth preparation in this particular component.
He said, “JNU students are already aware of the research methodology. The questions were easy for them. Those from Delhi University could not even answer the basic questions. I really wish we were taught something about this during our coursework. Nobody took seriously. Even one of the professors told us that we will get to learn about it in M.Phil”.
The same goes for UGC/NET. If you want to clear UGC/NET exams, you will need to have sufficient knowledge on research methods, principles and practices. Students have prepared on their own. They have relied on guide books that makes it easier for them to understand.
Since most of these students do not refer quality books (which gets tougher), they are unable to answer difficult and concept application questions. Most of them just mug up and if they are lucky, they get to answer straighforward questions only.
Should Revise syllabus annually.
Syllabus revision in India is not easy. Few of the autonomous universities and institutes can frequently change and update their syllabi. But when it comes to University of Delhi, it strictly follows the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC). There are layers of bureaucratic hurdles within the university as well as in the UGC.
My batch followed a syllabus which was made 5 years back. If regular updations were done, the students would have benefitted. There needs a faster mechanism to clear the syllabi and an instiution that could monitor the syllabi. UGC is overburdened with responsibilities. We need to clear some of the responsibilities and transfer it to a new syllabus monitoring institute.