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Selecting a university for higher education

Higher studies: Selecting a university
June 07: Finishing higher secondary school brings on the added pressure of choosing the right kind of college education with a view to pursuing higher education. Parents and students alike feel the pressure of gaining admission into their choice of university and many at the end of the whole exercise feel the disappointment of not getting into the college of their choice.

Pakistan's universities are limited in numbers and those recognised or accredited are 132 in all with 73 being in the public domain and 59 in the private sector. Of these, 127 universities are said to be "fully functional" according to parameters set by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Most public universities are structured on the colonial system of education and are funded by the government.

At Independence in 1947, Pakistan set up further universities in the fields of agriculture, engineering, medicine and government degree colleges. Recently, private universities with a high fee structure have also mushroomed widening the choice for students trying to gain admission into college. Earlier, the University Grants Commission (UGC) overlooked quality assurance which was later replaced by the HEC whose website notifies students, parents and other stakeholders to make choices or informed decisions on higher education options in Pakistan.

Applying to a college or university in Pakistan is dependent on two main principles. Firstly, public universities with a subsidised fee structure admit students on a merit system. To get into one of the public universities, applicants must gain certain grades or marks to competitively enter these. Once the quota within the specified marks level is full, admission is no longer available there. Secondly, the education system allows streaming at the higher secondary level (FSc/FA) or "intermediate" level which means that the choice of course is already determined with students taking pre-engineering, pre-medical, humanities or social sciences, business or accounting subjects. Those who wish to pursue medicine will look for the right business school medical or engineering college.

Consequently, the essential factors impacting Pakistani students who wish to pursue higher education and their choice of university will depend on the following.

Financial factors
For many Pakistani students attending the college or university of their choice, financial status plays a huge part as tuition fees, room and boarding, books, fees, and personal expenses have to be considered. Those who can afford it may choose from a range of private universities where the student-faculty ration is lower. Others will definitely opt for public universities where the fee structure is subsidised or look for those universities which offer financial assistance.

Economic factors
Choice of college will depend on the kind of career chosen for entry into the job market. It could be a specific trade or technical area, business or profession which will establish the student's choice of university for that specific discipline.

Academic merit
This basically means what you wish to study. A higher merit is required for a medical or engineering college based on countrywide competition. A standardised test is already a feature of gaining admission into the medical profession. Some Pakistani universities define the minimum qualification needed to apply including foreign test results for SATs or GREs.

Location and reputation
A student's choice will depend on a suitable location of a university nearby or one with a good reputation elsewhere with hostel facilities. Universities such as GIK, LUMS, King Edward Medical College, Punjab University, FAST-NU, Aga Khan University, Quaid-i-Azam University and International Islamic University at Islamabad may be the choice for students from far flung areas.

Faculty and campus facilities
If a student's choice is based on the quality of a university then factors such as student-faculty ratio; average class size; percentage of faculty who teach; percentage of classes that are taught by qualified doctoral professors (versus those that are taught by graduate students or masters level) will matter. Here, accreditation of the course study and university accreditation with a recognised body is essential.

Thus, Pakistan has its own dynamics in university selection for students opting for a graduate degree. A lot depends on the indigenous cultural and economic factors affecting career options as well as gender in choosing the most suitable university and course of study.

By Ismat Riaz - The writer is an educational consultant based in Lahore. (Dawn)

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HEC releases Rs 6.63m for business incubation centre
Lahore: Higher Education Commission (HEC) has accepted a proposal of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) for setting up "Business Incubation Centre" and has released Rs 6.63 million for the purpose.

Addressing a meeting of the faculty members, UVAS Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Nawaz further said it would be the first incubation centre in Lahore. He also said the HEC would provide financial assistance to share the setup cost and initial two years' operating cost worth Rs 11,150,000.

UVAS VC said purpose of the business incubator centre was to produce successful firms that would leave the programme financially viable and freestanding, adding these incubator graduates had the potential to create jobs, revitalise neighbourhood, commercialise new technologies and strengthen local and national economies.

"There are so many potential untapped areas which are being discovered and exploited to enhance the country's economic might and make university self-sufficient", he added. Dr Muhammad Nawaz further said Pakistan could save annually $ 6 billion poultry imported vaccine due to manufacture biotechnology products. He explained that 21 million low milk producing cattle and buffaloes should be preferably slaughtered to export meat and earn substantial foreign exchange to relieve debt. He said the vision of the UVAS was to produce skilled manpower for milk, meat and eggs and make biological products to save the national kitty.

The Vice Chancellor stressed that the varsity had to establish linkage with the industry to overcome the financial matters and search new avenues for the student's job placement. He also said such centre would support the linkages between academia /research and development institutions and private sector to explore the local as well as international industry through innovative and constructive research.

Dilating on UVAS products, Dr Nawaz said two products of the university were going to final process, adding one ton university quail meat had been supplied commercially to the mega stores.

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PMDC criticised over poor medical education
Lahore: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has condemned Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for lowering the ratio of medical teachers to students in medical colleges across the country.

The PMA office-bearers including Dr Tanveer Anwar, Dr Ashraf Nizami, Dr Izhar Chaudhry, Dr Akhtar Rashid, Dr Kamran Sheikh, Dr Ehsan-ur-Rehman, Dr Shahid Malik, Dr Sabahat Habib, Dr Yasmin Ihsan and Dr Salman Kazmi in a joint statement issued here on Sunday said PMDC was directly responsible for the deteriorating standard of medical education in the country. They added PMDC officials had recently changed the ratio of the medical teachers to students in medical colleges across the country and lowered it considerably to a level, which would badly affect the standard and quality of medical education at the 108 public and private sector medical colleges of the country. "If the decision is not taken back then our medical colleges would be producing quacks instead of quality doctors in the years to come," the PMA office-bearers said.

PMDC, according to their original rules and regulations laid down as minimum standards of the students and teachers ratio, had mentioned that there should be one professor, two associate professors, three assistant professors and 10 demonstrators for each subject to teach 100 students and there should be a total of three professors, six associate professors, nine assistant professors and 30 demonstrators for a total class of 300 students to teach one subject like anatomy and as many are required for other subjects like physiology, biochemistry and so on.

This was the reason that Pakistan was producing world class doctors and today the top physicians and surgeons across the world belong to Pakistan. According to the recently revised criteria and reissued regulations of PMDC, they informed, the council has decreased the criterion for the minimum requirement of the teachers and students' ratio in medical colleges and now for 300 medical students in a class, any college administration is just required to provide one professor, two associate professors, three assistant professors and 16 demonstrators.

PMA has termed this as a great injustice that one professor was being forced to work in place of three professors and questioned the officials of PMDC that how it was possible that 16 demonstrators would be able to do the job of 30 demonstrators? This would adversely affect the quality of medical education being imparted at our medical institutions and ultimately the quality of the doctors being produced in Pakistan.

The PMA office-bearers further said that, despite decreasing the criterion of teachers and medical students by PMDC, majority of the private colleges were unable to fulfil the new criterion as well and it was just an attempt of the PMDC officials to make medical education a profitable business. PMA further added that some top officials of the federal government were unfortunately involved in changing the criteria and were indirectly responsible for the destruction of the health system of the country. PMA has appealed to the Chief Justices of Supreme Court of Pakistan and Lahore High Court to take suo motu action on this and restore the old teachers and students' criterion in the 108 medical and dental institutions of the country to ensure the production of quality doctors in Pakistan.

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PU results
Lahore: The Punjab University (PU) Examinations Department on Monday announced the results of various examinations. These exams include MSc Chemistry, MA Arabic, Mass Communication and Women's Studies, Part-II, Supplementary Examination 2010, MA Islamic Studies (Morning Programme), Semester System, Session 2008-2010, MA Islamic Studies (Evening Programme), Semester System, Session 2008-2010, and BEd Supplementary Exam 2009 & Annual Exam 2010. Detailed results are available on PU website

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GCU registrar
Lahore: Government College University (GCU) English Department's Associate Professor Anjum Nisar has been given charge to look after office of the varsity's registrar. The news

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IUB Dramatic Club raises money for flood affectees
Ahmedpur East: A delegation of dramatic club of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur headed by Director Students Affairs Dr Mehmood Ahmed and In-charge Dramatic Club Dr Abdul Wajid Khan called on Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Mukhtar and presented him a cheque for Rs80,000 raised from a drama festival for the flood victims.

Talking to the delegation, the VC said that it is a matter of immense pleasure that the University students have been actively participating in the flood relief efforts. This is the reason that national and international organisations step forward to extend help to the IUB Flood Relief Cell in its relief activities. The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia His Excellency Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Al-Ghadeer visited the Islamia University of Bahawalpur and donated 8 truckload of relief goods. Similarly, Rabta Almi Islami and the German organisation, Senior Expert Service also participated in the relief and rehabilitation of flood affectees.

The VC appreciated the sympathetic gesture of the members of the IUB Dramatic Club. The nation

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Students stage demonstration
Lahore: Students of Government College of Technology (GCT) for Women, Jain Mandir, earlier known as Polytechnic Institute for Women staged a protest demonstration on Monday against separation of commerce stream from the college.

The protesting female students also blocked road near Jain Mandir, Old Anarkali, for quite some time causing traffic mess on various adjacent roads. Carrying banners and placards they also chanted slogans against separation of commerce stream from institutes/colleges of Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (Tevta).

It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab government has separated commerce stream from Tevta institutes and has handed over the same to Punjab Higher Education Department. Subsequently, all Tevta institutes/colleges offering commerce education would be now under administrative control of the Education Department. The protesting students some of whom were also joined by their parents said their college was the only female college where commerce subject was taught. The news

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