Left with a stock of laptops following the cancellation of the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP), Delhi University has now issued fresh guidelines for its colleges to put these machines to "constructive use."
DU had last year invested a large sum to purchase laptops for the first batch of FYUP students to help them complete the project work of the foundation courses as part of the FYUP curriculum.
However, after the FYUP was scrapped in June following intervention by UGC, the principals of various DU colleges were clueless as to what was to be done with the laptops.
Now, stating that the use of laptops is not integral to any particular programme, the varsity has directed its colleges to redistribute these machines among their first-year students.
"The laptops will be distributed to students for a period of six months and, then, would be handed to the next bunch of students for the remaining six months of the session. In colleges where the number of students is less then the number of laptops available, these would be distributed for a year," said I S Bakshi, Principal of Dayal Singh College.
According to the guidelines, the students are supposed to return the laptops upon completion of the stipulated period of issuance and it is up to the colleges whether they want the students to deposit some security money before being handed the laptops.
Since the laptops are still under warranty, DU has asked the colleges to get them checked by the vendor concerned to deal with any problems before these are issued to students.
"The laptops were distributed to FYUP students as that particular curriculum demanded the use of technology. Now that the curriculum has been rolled back to the traditional (method of) blackboard learning, the laptop distribution isn't needed," according to SRCC Principal S C Jain.
However, DU authorities asserted that technology is useful in all programme formats and the free distribution of laptops would equip the students for a better future.
"The assets created in colleges in terms of high-end servers, Wi-Fi facilities, LCD projectors and screens, desktops and laptops have been built up steadily over some years to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. These equipments are not integral to any particular programme but to the entire teaching-learning process," says the official communication sent by DU to its colleges.
DU's Media Coordinator and Joint Dean of Students' Welfare, Malay Neerav, said that the initiative had got a good response from students, especially those from a disadvantaged background.
"Nearly 50,000 laptops were distributed to the students along with about 1,000 for the teachers. The initiative came as a boon for thousands of students who could not otherwise afford a laptop," Neerav said.