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KEMU varsity status issue | PU 'selective' policy under fire

KEMU to oppose move to withdraw varsity status
Lahore, April 06: The Punjab government is likely to face strong resistance from medical community in general and the King Edward Medical University in particular against what is believed to be a 'unilateral' decision to withdraw its university status.

It is not likely to be smooth sailing for the Punjab government as the KEMU is set to hold a special meeting of the Academic Council on Monday (today) to discuss the matter threadbare and come up with a strategy to counter the move to undo the elevation of former King Edward Medical College to a university. The KEMU administration and faculty is literally fuming over the health secretary, Dr Amer Aziz, and the vice-chancellor of the University of Health Sciences, for working to the detriment of their institution. They believe that the PML-N government under the leadership of Mian Shahbaz Sharif, which is the flag-bearer of justice, should not implement the decision unilaterally when the KEMU remains unheard.

The KEMU Academic Council, in one of its previous meetings held some six months ago, overwhelmingly supported university status of their institution. During secret voting conducted on behalf of the Punjab government, at least 59 senior faculty members rejected the idea to deprive KEMU of its university status against a single vote cast by Prof Dr Nausheen, Professor of Preventive Paediatrics, who also happens to be the wife of Dr Amer Aziz, in favour of institution's restoration to original status of a college.

The UHS, which derives its strength from Section 37 of the UHS Ordinance awarding exclusive mandate of affiliation in Punjab, is once again going to be the main beneficiary of the fresh move after the UHS has been given the right to conduct entrance tests for admissions to medical/dental colleges in the province, while KEMU remains a loser on both counts. It is learnt that KEMU's incumbent vice-chancellor had faced opposition from within the varsity for surrendering the right to conduct entrance test in favour of UHS without offering any resistance.

In comparison with the KEMU, the UHS has been extremely lucky to have complete support of the provincial government as it immediately sent the KEMU VC packing with the reversal of reemployment policy, while the UHS VC, despite serving post retirement, escaped the sword. The provincial government, on the one hand, fully empowered the UHS VC, while on the other it failed to appoint a regular VC at the KEMU to independently run the affairs of the university.

Besides, the PML-N provincial government, despite relentlessly pursuing Farah Dogar's case, did not bother to hold any inquiry, or make it public, regarding the complaints of anomalies in the UHS entrance test, which in a glaring example, incorporated 218 candidates one day after formal declaration of the result of entrance test. As a result, the affected candidates had to challenge their results in the court as a last resort. Furthermore, it has also been pointed out that the UHS had the smallest whole time faculty as one professor was heading three different departments of basic medical sciences. "The UHS is banking on 'adjunct faculty' from amongst the full-time employees of medical colleges and hospitals, many of whom are part-time teachers or never attend the university," former UHS professors have said.

Besides the medical community, faculty and staff of the KEMU, students are simply stunned as their alma mater is set to be restored back to its previous status of a college. The students, who fulfilled highest merit in Punjab, may be deprived of a degree of their own university. About 159 foreign students at KEMU, who got their respective scholarships from their countries for KEMU, are also uncertain about their future after spending a few years in Pakistan.

Dr Amer Aziz said he fully supported the KEMU to be restored to its original status yet the Punjab government had not taken the decision at his or the health secretary's behest because the CM had approved the summary in this regard before the imposition of governor's rule in Punjab. He said the decision was in fact taken on the basis of third party audit conducted by Prof John Biggs, Dean of Academics at Cambridge University, and recommended withdrawing KEMU's university status on the basis of its poor performance.

He observed that the KEMU had miserably failed to make any significant mark since its elevation despite increase in funds from Rs 170 million to present Rs 510 million annually. "There is not a single anaesthetist in Lady Wellington Hospital," he said.

He observed that the KEMU had launched 'third class' postgraduate diplomas to churn out nothing but 'qualified quacks'. When asked about the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council's recognition of KEMU's diplomas, he said that the PMDC had recognized some of the diplomas only now, but most of the diplomas were still not recognised. "I have also written a strong letter to the PMDC for its role in ruining the standard of medical education," he said.

He claimed that the UHS had performed far better than the KEMU as it declared results within two to three days, while KEMU 'authorities' had done nothing but award positions to their sons and daughters. He said the KEMU was offering MS and MD courses arbitrarily, while he had got approved MS and MD courses at the UHS only after FCPS.

KEMU Vice-Chancellor Prof Zafarullah Khan expressed his dismay over the government's decision to withdraw university's status unilaterally without taking varsity on board. He regretted that those, who were earning millions in private sector, were deciding the fate of public sector institutions.

He said the Health Department had stopped the varsity from appointing assistant professors and associate professors to fill 30 vacant posts at KEMU to the loss of students.

He claimed that the KEMU had made several strides towards academic and research development more than any other university, but those could be presented only if the varsity was given a chance to respond to the wrong impression being created by the detractors of the university. He said that if, at all, there were shortcomings in the working of the university then they should be improved rather than demolishing the whole institution.

UHS VC Prof Hussain Mubashir Malik was unavailable for comments. The UHS spokesman, however, denied any role in the government's decision to withdraw KEMU's university status.

When contacted, Health Secretary Anwaar Ahmad Khan said that the provincial government had meted out equal treatment to both medical universities i.e. KEMU and UHS without any discrimination, and added that now the competent authority had approved the summary of the repeal of KEMU Act and they would just have to implement it as obedient servants of the government. He said that if the KEMU administration and faculty should write to the Health Department or directly convey their concern to the Punjab chief minister if they had grievances.

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PU 'selective' policy under fire
Lahore: A Heated debate on the implementation of "One Man One Post" decision at the Punjab University (PU) is ongoing ever since a senior faculty member who was director of an institute as well as dean of a faculty was "deprived" of directorship of the institute.

Prof Dr Mughees Uddin Sheikh, Dean Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences who was also Director of the PU Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) was removed from directorship of the institute by PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran recently.

The PU officials believe the decision to remove Dr Mughees from directorship of the institute was taken following the varsity's Academic Staff Association (ASA) passed a unanimous resolution demanding implementation of university's syndicate decision of "One Man One Post".

Majority of faculty members, however, have been criticising the VC for his "prompt" action alleging the ICS director was "victimised" as the decision was implemented exclusively in his case while many others who had been holding more than two offices were still performing their duties against the "coveted" posts.

A senior faculty member said Prof Dr Muhammad Ehsan Malik was not the only Dean Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences but he was also holding offices of Director PU Institute of Business Administration and director general of the PU Gujranwala Campus.

He also said that Prof Shaista Sonnu Siraj ud Din was Dean Faculty of Arts and Humanities as well as Chairperson of the Department of English Language and Literature, Prof Dr Liaquat Ali Dean Faculty of Commerce and also Principal Hailey College of Commerce, Prof Dr Javaid Ahmad Dean Faculty of Engineering and Technology and also Principal of College of Engineering and Emerging Technologies and Prof Dr Muhammad Jamshaid was Faculty of Pharmacy dean and also principal of the PU College of Pharmacy.

PU teachers are of the view that if the VC was really sincere in ensuring implementation of "One Man One Post" decision, then he should have removed all those holding two or more than two offices. They said removal of Dr Mughees as ICS director was being seen as "a pure case of victimization" as he had been quite critical of the VC's policies in recent past and above all he did not belong to the VC's 'camp'.

The PU VC had to face criticism in connection with removal of Dr Mughees during a function held last week. The event was organised by the ICS in the honour of its outgoing director Prof Dr Mughees Uddin Sheikh.

One of the speakers even said: "Dr Mughees is the first and last victim of the incumbent VC's "one man, one seat" policy as nobody else has been displaced from his dual duty in the university."

Dr Mughees himself was seen quite "aggressive" during his speech. Speaking on the occasion, he even suggested that the VC "announce amnesty for all his opponent faculty members to have real peace of mind."

"I criticize openly as I am not a coward and I am never afraid of tomorrow, but I never hoodwink my friends, I am blunt," he said.

VC Dr Mujahid Kamran, however, showed patience and preferred to avoid discussing the issue of "One Man One Post". (The News)

PU wins two diplomacy awards
Lahore: The Punjab University Model United Nations (PUMUN) team has won two outstanding diplomacy awards at the Harvard World Model UN Conference 2009 at The Hague, the Netherlands.

According to PU, the 11-member student delegation, accompanied by adviser (students) Prof Dr Makshoof Athar and Law College assistant professor Samee Uzair, participated in the major student model UN conference from March 22 to 27.

PU vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Karmran and Law College principal Prof Shazia Noreen Qureshi have congratulated the team on their performance. The students who won awards included Syed Nishat Kazmi and Sher Afghan Malik.

It is noteworthy that this was the first-ever participation by a PU student delegation in world model UN conference.

The students also visited the International Court of Justice and attended the Pakistan Day reception at the Pakistani Embassy at Hague.

Last year, the PU team participated in the European model UN conference and won awards.

5-day workshop on molecular markers of diseases at PU
Lahore: The Punjab University's School of Biological Sciences (SBS) will hold a five-day international workshop on 'Separation Science and the Omics' from today (Monday) until April 10.

Researchers and scientists from Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Tunisia and those from various universities of the country will participate in the workshop, which would deal with the latest techniques used in the detection and quantification of specific protein markers in various forms of cancer and other diseases. These studies are essential for correct diagnosis of many diseases and assessment of the stage of diseases in human. SBS Director Prof M Waheed Akhtar said the workshop programmes included lectures as well as hands-on training on some of the modern analytical techniques. He further said leading scientists in the field of proteomics would deliver lectures on the different aspects of the studies of the complex protein samples and their applications in the diagnosis of diseases.

Research activity in the field of proteomics is currently one of the most widely pursued areas of research. The deliberations of the workshop will help young scientists and researchers in learning the latest developments. This will not only give impetus in research in this important field, but also in developing population specific diagnostic procedures. App

PU-SBS Workshop
Lahore: The Punjab University School of Biological Sciences (SBS) will organise a five-day international workshop "Molecular Markers of Diseases'" from April 6-10. Researchers and scientists from Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, Tunisia and from various universities of the country will participate in the workshop. The News

Law College students' protest
Lahore: Despite holiday, a large number of PU Law College students protested here in front of vice-chancellor office against the humiliated bevahiour and publication of baseless news item in the Daily 'Khabrian' against PU vice-chancellor and principal Law College. The students were carrying banners against the reporter and administration of the Daily 'Khabrain' and they said they would take strict action if university faculty members were insulted next time and they would also demonstrate in front of the Governor's House and Lahore Press Club. F.P. Report

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LCWU offers virtual classes
Lahore: Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) started a joint programmr in Museum Studies with John Hopkins University (JHU) in Washington DC, providing local students an opportunity of having virtual classes with US students to study modern methods of museum management in cities and at archaeological sites.

LCWU Vice-Chancellor Dr Bushra Mateen signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the JHU. "LCWU is offering foundation courses for two semesters to resolve the problems faced by the museum," said Mass Communication Department Head Dr Anjum Zia.

"Admission to LCWU will be accepted on the basis of merit. Candidates must have a MA degree in History, Archaeology, Pakistan History, Business Management, Computer Sciences, etc," sources said.

NAVTEC, BMZ and DFID sign declaration
Islamabad: National Vocational & Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC), German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (its German abbrevation - BMZ), and UK Department for International Development (DFID) on Saturday signed a joint declaration to support vocational training reforms in Pakistan. NAVTEC Chairman Adnan A Khawaja, BMZ Director General Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven and DFID Country Director Eric Howthorne signed the joint declaration. The declaration says that Pakistan had requested the German ministry, DFID and the donors to support implementation of National Skills Development (2009-13) Strategy programme. It says Pakistan gives development of professional skills a high priority to achieve sustained economic and social development, remain globally competitive and respond to the changes in technology and work patters. NAVTEC representative termed this partnership unique. He said it was one of the most comprehensive assistance programme in TVET in Pakistan. Daily Times

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