Air University third Convocation 2012
Degrees conferred on 559 students
Islamabad, July 16: The third convocation of the Air University was held at the Jinnah
Convention Centre, Islamabad on Saturday. Bachelors and Masters degrees
of various educational disciplines in engineering and administration
programmes were conferred upon 595 students. The chief guest awarded 26
Gold and 19 silver medals to the position-holders.
Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air
Force who is also Chairman Board of Governors of the Air University was
the chief guest.
Addressing the ceremony, the chief guest
said, "The extension of Air University's programmes from the disciplines
of engineering to administrative sciences, basic and applied sciences
as well as social sciences is a clear manifestation of its keenness to
serve the nation through contributions in diverse fields of education.
With its focus on discipline and ethics, Air University is providing an
atmosphere that is conducive for learning. I am very happy to note that
this congenial environment of the University is promoting quality
education and effective citizenship".
He further said,
"Universities are gate ways of authentic information, and its lateral
flow to the industry is essential for the benefit of society at large. I
am glad to note that Air University is actively involved in this vital
Congratulating the graduating students, their
parents and the Air University faculty, the chief guest said that it is
their hard work that has made this day of rewards possible, and has led
the University in making exponential progress and building up a solid
reputation as an academic institution.
Earlier, Dr Ijaz
Ahmad Malik, Vice Chancellor of the Air University, in his welcome
address expressed that the Air University laid emphasis on quality
enhancement in education, research and development, and character
building of students, who actively participated in all the curricular
and co-curricular activities. The news
Post your comments
Foreign Faculty Programme shelved unceremoniously
Islamabad: In the year since devolution, one silent victim in the shuffle
of government departments and ministries has been the Foreign Faculty
Programme of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The latest news is that the Foreign Faculty Hiring Programme (FFHP),
one of the most popular and controversial programmes of the Higher
Education Commission of Pakistan, will be shelved by December 2012. The
programme's administration has already informed scholars who were
recruited under the FFHP and are teaching in universities all over
Pakistanthat their contract will not be extended because of a shortage
But even after nine years of the programme, no consensus has
developed over its usefulness – and the decision to end it has been met
with an abnormal silence, as neither its proponents or opponents have
risen up to take action on the decision.The Foreign Faculty Hiring
Programme, was launched by the HEC in November 2003 to "provide
qualified research academics and Ph.D. supervisors in higher education
in Pakistan to overcome the shortage of qualified professors to teach
higher level courses and supervise PhDs," explained Murtaza Noor, media
coordinator of the HEC.
"The foreign faculty is thus expected to supervise world-class
graduate level research and bring cutting-edge research and technology
to higher education institutions. The hope was that in the long-term,
this would improve the quality of graduate education in Pakistani
universities and bring them up to international standards," he said.
The programme has certainly been dynamic and faced its share of criticism.
By 2012, 594 foreign professors have been hired under the FFHP. Of
them 319 were hired for long periods (2 or 4 years), while the rest came
under its shorter duration option for a semester or two. Thirteen
foreign professors are currently working under the programme and 206
professors have returned to their parent organisations after completing
their tenure under FFHP.
In total, 1,500 foreign professors have taught under the programme over the nine years of its duration.
For the HEC, the numbers are evidence of the contribution that the
programme has made to higher education and its officials claims that the
FFHP has proven instrumental in raising academic and research standards
of higher education institutions.
As proof, HEC cites the Government College Universitys Abdus Salam
School of Mathematical Sciences (ASSMS). The school has a number of
foreign faculty professors driving it and has produced 38 PhDs. It has a
current enrolment of 127 and averages graduation of 20 PhDs a year.
Most importantly, it has been recognised internationally for its high
standards and original research.
But the HEC also takes credit for the Nust Center of Virology and
Immunology that has been set up by the efforts of a foreign faculty
professor who only ended up getting mired in controversy over charges of
financial mismanagement and plagiarism. Both charges were later sorted
out, but such repeated instances show that the programme has had its
share of ups and downs and not all, not even most, have been supportive
of its operation.
Those who object to the programme raise some fundamental questions on
issues of quality and the hiring criteria. Doctor Pervez Hoodbhoy, for
example, has been a vocal critic of the programme and has pointed out
laxities in HEC's hiring process and enormous wastage.
Many of the foreign faculty members turned out to be just overseas
Pakistanis who were enjoying paid holidays in Pakistan through the
programme. Many of the others came from Russia, China or East European
countries and did not have a strong enough command on English to teach
and inspire, even if they were good researchers.
"A foreign faculty member was appointed in a university at
Peshawareven though the university did not even have a department
related to his field of specialization. The professor says that he will
pass time and leave," narrated Mr Hoodbhoy as an example of HEC's flawed
A lot of scandals that have arisen regarding foreign faculty have also been result of sheer jealousy by local faculty members.
An officer of HEC said: "Local faculty members object that they are
no less competent than Foreign Faculty Members (FFM) but still get lower
salaries," and added, "Two foreign faculty professors Dr Nizam and Dr
Mukhtar have been promoted to become Vice Chancellors of Universities,
so local faculty members also feel that their opportunity to be promoted has been denied."
Such controversies surrounding the programme have affected its image
and put in question the research and PhDs of hundreds of students who
worked under the supervision of foreign faculty professors – as well as the local professors who seem
resistant of outside efforts to bring up education standards and
possibly expose their own incompetence.
This is especially important considering the fact that students approve the programme when asked about it.
Professor Iftikhar Ahmad, a student of PhD confirmed that at least
foreign faculty professors seem more dedicated than their local peers:
"Foreign faculty professors give more attention to the students as
compared to the more locally experienced professors. Those who come from
abroad have much more mental grooming and they never feel jealous of
their students," he said.
But the fact remains that as the programme's end has been announced,
there is hardly any hue or cry about the closure. Perhaps one reason is
that there has been no evaluation of the programme or third party
findings about the impact of the programme, and its success or failure
remains a subjective opinion.
Expert critique has been that the FFHP is good in principle and it is just the implementation that has been the problem.
But given that the programme has been shelved, without debate, like
it was implemented for nine years, without much debate, its closure
remains an ambiguous and muted controversy as another opportunity to
improve higher education standards is lost.
Post your comments
Urdu varsity still without own building
Islamabad: Even 10 years after the establishment of
the Federal Urdu University, successive governments have failed to
allocate funds for the construction of its building.
Set up in 2002, the university with an enrolment of about 3,700
students is running in a rented building owned by Iesco, which now has
issued a notice to the institution to vacate it after expiry of the
According to sources, as the number of students is increasing, there
is no open space on the premises forcing them to spend most of the time
sitting on the stairs, at the entrance and in front of offices.
A professor of the university said the minimum requirement of land
for the campus was 80 kanals which the management had purchased in Chak
Shahzad. The PC-1, worth Rs830 million, was also prepared for
construction of the building with the capacity to accommodate 4,000
"The Higher Education Commission (HEC) paid Rs8 million for
construction of the boundary wall but grant for the building could not
be released," he said.
According to the PC-1, the building should have been constructed in three years, he said.
Mohammad Faisal, a student of the university, said the HEC had put
the university at No 5 in its ranking which showed that the students
were performing well and could do much better if all the facilities were
provided to them.
"Because of the congested environment, the students are suffering.
There should be proper sitting area, grounds, canteens and other
facilities," he said.
Nawaz Jillani, the public relations officer of the university, said
that in 2007 the Pakistan Engineering Council had refused to give
accreditation to the university due to which the students launched
protests. At that time, the HEC allocated Rs80 million to the university
for purchase of equipment but now we have no funds for construction of
He confirmed that Iesco had sent notices to the university to vacate the building but the management had no other alternative.
"We are trying to find a solution to the issue or enter into another agreement with Iesco to remain in the building," he said.
A faculty member requesting not to be named said the name of the
university had become a problem. He claimed that some elements in
Karachi did not want the Urdu University to flourish in Islamabad. He
added: "We had a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also
the chairman of the university, and raised the issue of funds with him.
The president agreed to provide the required amount but later a message
was conveyed to us that we have to convince the governor of Sindh for
construction of the building. The Sindh governor has noting to do with
the Islamabad campus," he said.
Professor Dr Zahid Saleem, a member of the university management,
said that despite repeated efforts funds could not be allocated for
"We know that both the students and faculty members are facing
problems, so we might go for a public-private partnership to construct
the building. But the first priority is to get funds from the
government," he said.
Adviser to HEC Riaz Qureshi said they were not getting funds for
development projects due to which a number of projects, including that
of the Urdu University, were pending. Dawn
Post your comments