HEC promoting quantity at the cost of quality
HEC effort under Dr Atta-ur-Rehman was not convincing
Islamabad, Aug 19: Dr Muhammad Waseem from Lahore University of Management
Sciences has said that Higher Education Commission (HEC) is promoting quantity
at the cost of quality.
Dr Waseem was addressing the 3-day "Teaching and
research methodology skills workshop for teaching faculty and PhD students",
hosted by Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University,
in collaboration with Higher Education Commission that concluded here
Dr Waseem said that effort of HEC under Dr Atta-ur-Rehman to
increase the number of universities and enrolment in public sector institutions
of higher education was not convincing. He said that in numbers we are not even
closer to Indian model where there are hundreds of universities. He recalled
that HEC was going for centralisation of knowledge under a Model University
Ordinance (MUO) but a delegation of QAU, which met former president Musharraf
aborted the unwise move. He lamented that the framework of MUO was applied
through other means.
Prof Waseem said that it is quite unfortunate for
the country that education policy-makers are based and operate from outside
universities and have no interaction with faculty or students. He lamented that
funding for natural sciences in QAU is much higher than that for social
Dr Waseem who earlier served as chairperson IR Department and
acting Dean Social Sciences, QAU, regretted that knowledge in Pakistan is
subjected to power politics. He also criticised Foreign Office for not taking in
puts from IR and DSS Departments. He said that there are no institutional
linkages between academia and government departments. He gave a detailed
presentation on comparative analysis of conceptual framework of social sciences
on the occasion.
Dr Tahir Amin from IR Department, QAU, in his talk on
"Philosophy of sciences" said that there is no objective reality and everything
is subjective in natural as well as social sciences. He said that even religion
is subjective as it is revealed to us by a person.
Talking about biases
against social sciences, he said that Tenure Track System was initially devised
only for natural sciences. He said that there is a variety of paradigms and one
should be open-minded. He said that we should adopt holistic approach in our
In response, Dr Rifaat Hussain, Chairperson of DSS Department,
said that everything is not subjective. He also gave a presentation on
measurement and quantifiable techniques of research.
Dr Tahir Hijazi from
Comsats University in his discussion on improving teaching techniques laid
emphasis on interactive way of instructions in which students' participation is
at least 50 per cent.
Zafarullah Khan from Centre for Civic Education
discussed communication skills. Dr Waseem Shahid Malik from QAU and Murtaza Noor
and Munir Ahmad from HEC also addressed the gathering. Certificates were awarded
to the participants in the end.
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Science of computers Part I
It is very gratifying to get literally hundreds of emails
from young students at home and abroad with suggestions and requests to write on
various topics, mostly on engineering disciplines. This column is in response to
such requests and is meant for the student community and not for experts and
trained professionals in this field who definitely know much more than I do. I
hope this information will be useful to future computer engineers and
scientists. Since many foreign universities teach artificial intelligence (AI)
in computer science, I am also briefly touching this topic. It should be
realised that computer technology is one of the most fundamental disciplines of
engineering and, together with mechanical engineering, metallurgical
engineering, electronic engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering and
bio-engineering, forms the basis of the industrial development of a country. I
am thankful to my old colleague, Eng Nasim Khan, for invaluable input for this
The computer is an essential part of 21st century life. Computer
science is a fast-moving subject that gives rise to a range of interesting and
often challenging problems. The implementation of today's complex computer
systems requires the skills of a knowledgeable and versatile computer scientist.
Artificial intelligence – the study of intelligent behaviour – is having an
increasing reference on computer system design. Distributed systems, networks
and the internet are now central to the study of computing, presenting both
technical and social challenges.
How do we understand, reason, plan,
cooperate, converse, read and communicate? What are the roles of language and
logic? What is the structure of the brain? How does vision work? These are all
questions as fundamental as the sub-atomic structure of matter. These are also
questions where the science of computing plays an important role in our attempts
to provide answers. The computer scientist can expect to come face-to-face with
problems of great depth and complexity and, together with scientists, engineers
and experts in other fields, may help to solve them. Computing is not just about
the big questions; it is also about engineering – making things work. Computing
is unique in offering both the challenge of science and the satisfaction of
Computer science is an inter-disciplinary subject. It is
firmly rooted in engineering and mathematics, with links to linguistics,
psychology and other fields. Computer science is concerned with constructing
hardware and software systems, digital electronics, compiler design, programming
languages, operation systems, networks and graphics. Theoretical computer
science addresses fundamental issues: the motion of computable function, proving
the correctness of hardware and software and the theory of communicating
Computer science includes the study of computers, but there is
more to it than this alone as it is generally also concerned with information
management and the process of information. Only a small part of the discipline
is devoted to making the computers' elaborate numerical calculations. By far the
largest part is concerned with those general computing techniques that are
useful, whether the data is numerical or non-numerical. Computer science is
based on electronics, physics and mathematics and needs a thorough understanding
of these disciplines.
Long ago foreign universities realised the
importance of computer science and set up independent departments. The critical
requirement was curriculum guidelines and procedures for accreditation of
degrees. This task was undertaken by the Association for Computing Machinery
(ACM), founded in 1948 as a scientific and professional organisation concerned
with the development and sharing of new knowledge about all aspects of
computing. The ACM began publishing curriculum recommendations for computer
science (CS) and for information systems (IS).
Later, three more
professional bodies were formed:
1. The Association for Information
Systems (generally called 'AIS') was founded in 1994. It is a global
organisation serving academia that specialises in information systems. Most
academic members of the AIS are affiliated with schools/colleges of business or
management. The AIS began providing curriculum recommendations for IS in
cooperation with the ACM and the AITP (see below) in 1997.
Association for Information Technology Professionals (AITP) was founded in 1951
as the National Machine Accountants Association. In 1962 it became the Data
Processing Management Association (DPMA). It adopted its present name in 1996.
The AITP focuses on the professional side of computing, serving those who use
computing technology to meet the needs of business and other organisations. It
first provided curriculum recommendations for IS in 1985.
3. The Computer
Society of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (often referred
to as IEEE-CS or the Computer Society) originated in 1946. This is a technical
society within the IEEE that is focussed on computing from the engineering
Prior to the 1990s, each society produced its own
curriculum recommendations. Over time, the advantages of cooperation among them
became obvious. Today they cooperate in creating curriculum standards and, in
this way, send a single message to the computing community.
discipline developed a considerable body of research, knowledge and innovation
that spanned the range from theory to practice and the initial controversy about
its legitimacy soon died down. Also during the 1990s, industrial needs for
qualified computer science graduates exceeded supply by a large factor.
Consequently, enrolment in CS programmes grew very dramatically.
engineering: it has emerged as an area within computer science that focuses on
rigorous methods for designing and building things that reliably do what they
are expected to do. In addition to its computer science foundations, software
engineering also involves human processes that, by their very nature, are harder
to formalise than are the logical abstractions of computer
Information systems: it had to address a growing sphere of
challenges like accounting systems, payroll systems, inventory systems, etc. By
the end of the 1990s networked personal computers had become basic commodities.
Computers had become an integral part of the work environment used by people at
all levels of the organisation. Organisations had more information available
than ever before and organisational processes were increasingly enabled by
computing technology. The problems of managing information became extremely
complex and the challenges of making proper use of information and technology to
support organisational efficiency and effectiveness became crucial
Information technology: it began to emerge in the late 1990s. By
that time computers and networked computer systems became the information
backbone of organisations. While this improved productivity, it also created new
workplace dependencies, as problems in the computing infrastructure can limit
employees' ability to do their work. IT departments with corporations and other
organisations took on the new job of ensuring that the organisation's computing
infrastructure was suitable, that it worked reliably and that people in the
organisation had their computing-related needs met, problems solved,
The information given above has been taken from the ACM website.
Detailed information on the above programs can be viewed on the ACM website
(To be continued). -By Dr A Q Khan (Dawn)
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