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4-year degree programmes in Punjab

Four-year degree programmes may raise equivalence issues
Lahore, Aug 02: The Punjab government is ambitious to launch 4-year degree programmes in 26 selected colleges and Skills Based Degree Programmes in some public colleges of the province from the coming academic session.

But, the government seems to be oblivious to the fact that graduates with 4-year degrees from universities are already suffering owing to equivalence issues.

The most recent example in this regard is the rejection of a candidate by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) for the post of Assistant Director Research/ Research Officer in the Punjab Environment Protection Department.

The candidate was having 4-years BS degree in chemistry which the PPSC "think- tanks" declared as not equivalent to the MSc chemistry as advertised for the post.

Afterwards the Higher Education Commission (HEC) wrote to the Punjab Higher Education Department to create awareness among the students, saving them a great deal of trouble.

Higher Education secretary Ahad Khan Cheema said that the equivalence issues had already been sorted out. However, he added, the issues pertaining to nomenclature of a particular degree programmes were taken up on case to case basis by the department.

Higher Education Commission's executive director Dr Sohail H Naqvi said the problems were arising because of lack of awareness. He added that the Commission would hold meetings with the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) and the Punjab Public Service Commissions to create maximum awareness on equivalence of degrees in coming days.

Welcoming the launch of demand-driven and job-oriented degree courses in public colleges, academic circles said that the issues pertaining to equivalence should be settled at the earliest, saving the students inconvenience.

They said that the launch of Skills Based Degree Programmes would be another milestone in the academic history of the province as the traditional BA/BSc was losing its practicality in rapidly changing scenario. Undoubtedly, the government alone is the biggest employer of graduates having conventional degrees. An academician has rightly said: "The present system is churning out thousands of graduates with little or no marketable skills."

The Punjab government, realizing the changing trends and market demands, has decided in principle to launch 4-year degree programmes gradually. Parallel to this, another initiative the government is embarking upon is the Skills Based Degree Programmes under which the Punjab Higher Education Department plans to impart practical training to students in the fields relevant to local industry, organizations and institutions, to prepare them for new market place.

It is learnt that the new associate degree programmes would be launched in partnership with public universities of the province, just 4-year degree programmes in colleges.

Sharing details of the proposed associate degree programme, an official of the department said many talented students were deprived of admissions to engineering, veterinary, computer and management sciences, etc, in public sector higher education institutions due to limited seats. They have no option except to join degree colleges for BA/BSc degrees where they study conventional subjects, he added.

The official said the huge chunk of population could not learn advance skills in emerging disciplines, depriving them of suitable employment opportunities.

He added the government had planed to offer associate degrees in the fields of agriculture, applied engineering, business management & finance, health sciences, arts & design, information technology, mass communication & media, tourism & hospitality management, livestock production, management & dairy development and sports & health education, etc, in selected colleges across the province from upcoming academic session.

Cut in HEC budget pushes varsities to wall: The substantial cut in budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) by the Federal government vis-a-vis adhoc increase in salaries, medical allowance and increase in pension of employees has started ëtroublingí (in terms of finances) the universities.

Failing to convince the government to enhance the HEC funding, the varsities have now started shifting the burden on poor students by increasing fee.

In a recent meeting with the HEC, the vice-chancellors (VCs) from across the country had demanded the government restore the budget to its original level of Rs 28 billion Recurring budget and Rs 30 billion Development budget, as agreed upon by the Ministry of Finance for fiscal year 2010/11.They had also demanded the federal government provide a supplementary recurring grant of Rs 7 billion to cater to salary increases. Otherwise, they warned, the varsities would have no option but to increase fee.

The Punjab University (PU) is perhaps the first varsity to increase fee for its off-campus students. It is learnt the PU VC has also demanded the Punjab government provide a grant of Rs 515 million to cover the deficit the varsity is likely to face in the wake of 50 percent increase in salaries of employees.

It is learnt that almost every university has seriously been weighing the option of increasing fee. Reportedly, the University of Engineering & Technology (UET), Lahore, has already proposed over 100 percent increase in tuition fee for its students, though a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken.

The emerging situation will add to the problems of the poor who are striving hard to survive in the fast increasing inflation.

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"It not possible for a single individual to start Ph.D program for all discipline. I am unable to understand how a person can manage all the task and understand terminology of all fields. It is also not fair for seniors to conduct classes for completing coursework, as most of seniors have conducted national/ international workshops on research methods."
Name: Muhammad Ibrahim
City, Country:Lahore, Pakistan

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KEMU starts PhD programme despite faculty shortage
Lahore: The Young Doctors Association (YDA) has pointed out that the King Edward Medical University is facing acute shortage of medical faculty and 44 seats of medical teachers are lying vacant. Despite this situation, the varsity administration has started a PhD programme. According to a press release issued here on Sunday, the YDA office-bearers, including Dr Rana Sohail, Dr Salman Kazmi, Dr Aslam Rao and Dr Talha Sherwani, have shown serious concern over this decision of the varsity administration and said that KEMU administration had failed to fill the vacant seats of the medical teachers for the MBBS students but were planning to start the PhD programme in the presence of only PhD teacher in the Pathology Department of the university. The news

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Taxila UET staff demand 50pc increase in salaries
Taxila: Over 400 employees including academic staff of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Taxila have said they did not get 50 per cent increase in their salaries for the month of July.

Talking to newsmen they said this has created unrest among a large number of employees of UET Taxila including professors, assistant professors, lecturers and other administrative staff.

The 50 percent increase in their salaries has not been included in their pay in sheer violation of the federal and provincial government orders. They said the current salary did not match the inflation.

A number of employees demanded of the government to increase their salaries as they did in other governmental departments including public sector universities.

The employees said inflation had made their life miserable, as the prices of all edible commodities had gone out of their reach making their survival difficult. "We demand 50 percent increase in our salaries as announced in federal budget," they said.

Taxila UET Director (planning and development) Musharf Sabih Sheikh said that the increase in salary had not been denied but delayed. He said that most of the public sector universities in the country had failed to pay 50 per cent increase in the salaries of their staff for want of funds.

He said as soon as funds were released the employees and staff of the university would get increase in the salaries. Dawn

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