During the recent Academic Council meeting at Delhi University, a considerable uproar ensued on Wednesday. It prompted the university to refer to the proposed strategic plan for Plagiarised Content for the next 25 years. The decision came in response to allegations of plagiarism and concerns regarding the potential commercialization of the esteemed institution. Teacher groups asserted that significant portions of the document have been directly copied from materials of international universities.
According to the concerned faculty, the primary objectives outlined in the strategic plan for Plagiarised Content seemed geared towards leading the university into a self-financing model. It was for establishing a distinct brand identity and venturing into marketing efforts, including a potential shift to corporate leadership. This raised apprehensions among the academic community about the fundamental direction the institution needed to take.
When the documents were examined closely, it was found to have copied text from several sources. It was including the University of Sheffield’s Vision and Strategic Plan and Ohio State University’s Advancement Strategic Plan 2013–18. Furthermore, it included Piedmont Technical College’s 2022–24 Strategic Plan, and Friends College Kaimosi, Kenya’s 2016–21 Strategic Plan. Furthermore, components from the University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya’s Vision 2030 declaration have also been discovered.
Yogesh Singh, the vice-chancellor of Delhi University, responded to the accusations. He declared in a statement that editors and linguists had been added to the writing committee. This action is to allay worries about the document’s subtle linguistic language. Furthermore, Singh committed to conducting a thorough investigation into the plagiarism complaints. This shows the university’s dedication to upholding academic integrity and addressing the contentious issues raised during the Academic Council meeting.
The members raised concerns beyond mere accusations of plagiarism. They were highlighting the university’s direction toward privatisation with the proposal of a Rs 100 crore endowment corpus from philanthropists. Vikas Gupta, an Academic Council member, revealed that the VC has agreed on the need for an input on enhanced draft. This will be prepared before the next meeting.
Gupta also asserted, “We dissented against the presentation of the strategic plan for Plagiarised Content of DU 2022-204″. This statement was contending that it goes beyond a mere technical issue of plagiarism degree. It is evident that the current draft lacks genuine original effort.”
He pointed out, “The draft neglects crucial terms like reservation and secularism. The term ‘Dalit’ appears only once, and that too in connection with indigenous knowledge. Additionally, ‘caste‘ is mentioned only once, despite its continued significance in our personal and public lives.”
Gupta further commented that the draft frequently mentions collaboration with the industry. Furthermore, it overlooks engagement with the agrarian sector, dairy, and farming to address local needs and issues. There are no provisions safeguarding against potential influences of industrial collaborators on research and curriculum at Delhi University. The so-called philanthropists, who are essentially investors, may advance their self-interests within the university.”
The pursuit of an annual revenue of at least Rs 100 crore through donations characterises the university’s strategy. It is aiming to address the decline in financial support from the state. This will now be in the form of interest-bearing loans rather than traditional grants. Despite the assurance of ample state funding, the Vice-Chancellor struggled to justify the disproportionate emphasis on resource generation through collaborations and philanthropy, as pointed out by Gupta.
Monami Sinha, an Economics professor at Kamla Nehru College, highlighted concerns regarding the strategic plan for Plagiarised Content. She said that some members of the administration seemed oblivious to the potential adverse impact of this on students from marginalised communities. Despite objections raised by the strategic plan for Plagiarised Content and others, the discussions proceeded, lending legitimacy to the plagiarised strategic plan. Sinha expressed dismay at the double standards evident in the university’s recent scrutiny of professorial work quality juxtaposed with the endorsement of a plagiarised document.
Mithuraj Dhupiya, present at the meeting, decried the unfortunate reliance on a plagiarised document as the foundation for DU’s strategic plan for Plagiarised Content 2022-47. He emphasised the unacceptable nature of plagiarism and expressed shock at its promotion by DU’s top authorities.
Abha Dev Habib, a former Executive Council member, criticised the university’s haste in pushing for discussions on the plagiarised ‘Revised Strategic Plan (2022-2047).’ Despite the Vice-Chancellor acknowledging plagiarism issues, the university pressed for the adoption of a plan covering the next 25 years without presenting the final document to the house. Habib alleged that the National Education Policies (NEP) focus on privatisation and commercialization is being implemented at the university level by undermining statutory bodies.