University of Education demonstrations

UoE protest intensifies
Lahore, Feb 11: A large number of students of the University of Education (UoE) staged a demonstration outside the Governor's House here on Thursday and demanded removal of the varsity's acting vice-chancellor while a protestor also tried to commit self-immolation.

The demo, which continued for a couple of hours, caused a great traffic mess on The Mall and many adjacent roads, owing to which the commuters had to face troubles.

The UoE students also demanded immediate restoration of the two faculty members, Dr MA Pasha and his wife Dr Shaheen Pasha, whose services were terminated by the acting VC Prof Farhat Saleem for their alleged incompetence. The protestors demanded Punjab Governor/Chancellor Latif Khosa to take notice of the issue and remove the acting VC, alleging that she was herself involved in academic corruption.

Most of the protesting students were from the Information Technology Department of the university, the department which was earlier headed by Dr MA Pasha. They alleged that the acting VC had sacked the two teachers owing to her personal grudge against them while further alleging that now the VC was also targeting the students who had raised voice for the sacked teachers. They said that about 38 students had been expelled from the university over the issue while their entry was also banned.

The students also expressed concerns over the Punjab government, saying that owing to the government policies, the students of the university were suffering.

A student, Umair, also tried set himself on fire by spraying patrol on his body. However, he was rescued by his fellow students and others present on the occasion.

A number of students on the occasion also threatened to commit suicide, saying their future was at stake while the government was not taking serious notice of the issue. They said that in such a situation, the entire responsibility would fall on the Punjab governor/chancellor and the Punjab government.

The protestors chanting slogans also alleged that bureaucracy was supporting the acting VC in the issue.

It is pertinent to mention here that on Wednesday, a student from the Punjab University' Institute of Plant Pathology (IPP) had also tried to commit self-immolation in front of the VC's office over the issue of non-equivalence of the institute's degree. Talking to the reporters, the UoE students claimed that the committee, comprising two VCs of universities of Lahore, formed by the Punjab government over the issue, had decided in favour of Dr Pasha, adding however that the UE syndicate did not implement the decision.

It is learnt that later a delegation of protesting students was also invited by the Governor's House staff and was assured that their genuine concern would be addressed. However, the meeting remained inconclusive and the students announced to continue their protest till fulfillment of all demands.

It is also pertinent to mention here that UoE acting VC Prof Farhat Saleem has been denying sacking of the teachers on personal grudge. According to her, the decision was taken in the interest of the university while on the other hand, the removed teachers had also been denying their incompetence.

A meeting of the UoE syndicate was held recently in which the report of the committee formed by the Punjab government was presented. However, no decision was taken and it was announced the same would be announced in another meeting of the syndicate.

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PU teachers accuse VC of favouritism
Lahore: The Punjab University's Academic Staff Association (PUASA), expressing concerns over the varsity's Vice Chancellor's alleged policies of favouritism and victimisation, warned that many teachers could resort to committing self-immolation if the practice continued.

PUASA President Prof Dr Mahr Muhammad Saeed Akhtar, Secretary Iftikhar Ahmad Tarar and other office-bearers, addressing a press conference at the PU Executive Club on Thursday, alleged that PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran was following pick and choose policy in cases of grant of monetary benefits, eligibility, transfers of teachers, appointments, inquiry culture and selection of boards.

It is pertinent to mention here that the PUASA is the elected representative body of the Punjab University's faculty members. Dr Mahr Saeed Akhtar, who is also President of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA), said the ASA's Executive Council had contacted the VC in connection with the finding solutions to the prevailing issues, adding however the same was vehemently denied by him. "The ASA, therefore, decided to bring the issues before media", he added.

The ASA office-bearers strongly criticised the VC for not holding the elections of different statutory bodies, including Senate, Syndicate and the Academic Council, saying these bodies had been functioning without representation of teachers since March 2010.

They also alleged that the eligibility, selection and promotion cases in most of the varsity's departments had not been finalised even after the lapse of statutory period while on the other hand, in case of favoritism, there were numerous precedents of early disposal of such cases. Giving an example, they said the case of Additional Registrar Dr Aurangzeb Alamgir was finalised within a short span of three months.

Talking about the alleged nepotism, they said the perks and privileges awarded to a first cousin of VC Dr Mansoor Sarwar were allegedly not extended to other eligible and entitled faculty members.

PUASA office-bearers said Khujista Rehan, a lecturer in law, was allegedly victimized, as she was not sanctioned study leave while she had to proceed to Australia for LLM on her own expenses. On the contrary in case of Shazia Qureshi, wife of VC Dr Mujahid Kamran, not only the leave was sanctioned but a huge amount of Rs 9.7 million was also transferred to her account, they added.

They also demanded immediate removal of Punjab University's Additional Registrar Dr Aurangzeb Alamgir and Treasurer Ms Uzma Ikram, alleging the officers had put the academic and financial activities at stake on campus due to their alleged incompetence. "This also results in delayed disposal of the cases and hence collapse of the system", they added.

They demanded the implementation of "one man, one post" formula, saying it had been a longstanding demand of the varsity faculty members. They were of the view that instead of taking any pragmatic step, the varsity administration had been bestowing additional responsibilities on a few selected teachers. The PUASA also demanded implementation of the Supreme Court's decision in letter and spirit about all the appointments made on contractual/reemployment basis in the university.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Punjab University (PU) on Thursday termed the allegations levelled by varsity's Academic Staff Association (ASA) baseless, false and contrary to the facts.

The PU spokesman said senior teachers, belonging to the ASA at a press conference, had presented distorted facts and tried to bring a bad name to the repute of the institution. Denying allegations of favoritism levelled against Prof Dr Mansoor Sarwar, the spokesman reminded that Mr Sarwar was appointed Principal of the PU College of Information Technology (PUCIT) in 2006 by the then Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (r) Arshad Mehmood.

He further said Mr Sarwar had served at a highly-reputed US institution for over 11 years and had been professor and Chairman of LUMS' Department of Computer Sciences, adding the PU Syndicate followed all the standards and approved his appointment as Principal PUCIT in 2009.

The spokesman also clarified that no three increments had been awarded to the professor.

The spokesman further said the current university administration ensured objectivity and merit. But because of some unavoidable circumstances, the varsity sometimes had to give an additional charge to anyone according to his ability and capacity, he added.

The spokesman clarified that ASA presented CoD two times to the VC office but in their own meeting they decided to meet Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran.

Regarding elections of Syndicate, the spokesman clarified that according to the wish of various groups of ASA, the elections could not be held and now the notification regarding elections of Syndicate had been issued and it would be held on March 31 this year. The spokesman alleged rather the ASA was protecting criminals and violators in their ranks.

The spokesman said that no clear answer of the question by a journalist during the press conference regarding financial embezzlement was a clear indication that no such matters basically existed.

He said further ASA should praise the varsity for resolving the matter of Institute of Plant Pathology (IPP) students rather than politicising the issue. But the students are wise and could not get trapped, he added.

PU spokesman further said that the honorary advisor to vice chancellor did not hold any administrative office and he was also not withdrawing any salary.

Regarding the car issue of former pro vice chancellor Dr Jamil Anwar, the spokesman clarified that the ASA must know that treasurer was the custodian of all the assets and property of the varsity and all the relevant officials were given vehicles through the same office. The news

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Degree recognition issue IMPP students attack PU vice-chancellor office
Lahore: The Punjab University on Wednesday witnessed a highly-charged protest demonstration by students of the Institute of Mycology and Plant Pathology (IMPP) as some of them attempted self-immolation and one literally torched himself in sheer frustration as the varsity administration delayed a dialogue with the protesters for hours.

Amidst heavy presence of police and varsity's security guards, the students continued the protest, chanting slogans for almost six hours on PU New Campus. They broke the barricades, placed to keep them away from the vice-chancellor's office, and damaged its iron gate.

Irritated by a 'cold shoulder' given to them by the varsity administration, IMPP students " Muneeb, Asif, Tariq, Lubna and Madeeha - sprinkled kerosene oil on their clothes in a gesture to commit self-immolation but the police thwarted their bid. Soon afterwards, another student, Wajid Husain, doused himself with kerosene oil and set fire to his clothes. However, the Rescue 1122 personnel, who were present on the occasion, saved the student from getting injured by acting timely. The student's shirt and hair got burnt. He also sustained burns on his wrist. He was given first aid by the rescuers.

During the hours' long protest, some male and female students fainted and were given first aid.

The IMPP students were demonstrating for recognition of their degrees, availability of qualified faculty and change of nomenclature of their institute.

The students as well as some graduates of the department had started staging protest demonstrations after the Higher Education Commission's accreditation committee pointed out different anomalies that needed to be rectified before the grant of recognition to the Institute's degrees last year.

The matter, however, could not be resolved and the students were compelled to step up their protest. They held a protest demonstration on Tuesday and got angered as, according to them, the university administration did not even bother to listen to their grievances. They had warned of violent protest and self-immolation bids, if their demands were not lent a sympathetic ear.

In a surprise move on Wednesday the university administration blocked media persons' entry to the PU New Campus in a bid to cover up the protest. However, media persons managed to enter the varsity, some of them riding pillions on students' motorbikes and some others by varsity officials' vehicles. The journalists, particularly those from electronic media, considered the varsity administration's step an attempt to suppress freedom of expression.

The police, led by SP Romail Akram, for the first time, behaved intelligently and kept students and media persons calm. Mr Akram even negotiated with the university administration and convinced them to hold a dialogue with the students and allay their apprehensions.

Finally, PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, who had been busy doing some official business and returned to the campus in the afternoon, held a marathon meeting with a five-member students' delegation. The VC sought one month time to resolve their issues at university level and take some others up with the Higher Education Commission and University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

Later, in a briefing to the media, Mr Akram said the students discussed all their issues, including their degree's recognition, deficiencies in curriculum, faculty members' qualification and matters related to the HEC.

Talking to media persons, the IMPP students' leader Tariq said it was a pity that the varsity administration did not even listened to their 'genuine' problems. He said the VC must ensure that students' degrees were recognised.

Meanwhile, a PU spokesman said Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran assured the students' delegation that a permanent director for the institute would be appointed by the end of this month. He said teachers' vacancies would be advertised as soon as possible and all the consultations regarding their qualification and specialisation would be completed soon.

"As the varsity is already following the rules and regulations, the criteria regarding teachers' recruitment will be fulfilled according to HEC and Punjab University requirements," he added.

Prof Kamran assured the students he would not tolerate any delay in the resolution of their problems. He said coordination process regarding the solution of pending matters, which were to be resolved by other institutions like University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, would also be expedited.

Assuring the students that he himself and other university officials would be available to them, Prof Kamran urged them to focus on their studies.

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Dawn Education Expo ends
Lahore: Thousands of students thronged the Dawn Education Expo 2011 on the second and concluding day on Thursday and gathered information about various universities, their academic programmes, fee structure and scholarships.

The Dawn Education Expo's last day saw large groups of students coming from local schools offering O and A Level and seeking information from various stalls.

Representatives of various universities told Dawn even a larger number of students visited the education exhibition on the second day and they registered hundreds of students to process their admission applications.

Talking to Dawn, Canadian University Application Centre director Lisa Roosen-Runge said a large number of A-Level students visited the stall and made queries about academic programmes in the disciplines of business, computer science, engineering and biomedical.

She said she told the students that Canadian universities offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes had a continuous process of admissions, while only few programmes had certain deadlines for submitting applications. She said the Canadian universities had registered some 200 students, who wanted to apply and process their admission applications.

University of Glamorgan's representative Maheen Mirza said students were inquiring more about fee structure and scholarships after identifying certain academic programmes of their choice. She said O-Level, A-Level, graduate and postgraduate level students visited the stalls.

Lahore City University president Mansoor Faisal said the exhibition provided a great opportunity to explain to students about the new higher education institution that was striving for students' excellence in professional studies.

Lauding organisers for holding such a successful education exhibition, Mr Faisal said such events provided a unique opportunity for the students and university staff to interact with each other. He said such events could be made more meaningful by allowing students to directly interact with varsities' faculty members.

Muhammad Sultan and Muhammad Jamil, students of a private school, said it was a great experience to visit such an education exhibition and see a large number of local and foreign universities' representatives under one roof. They said they learnt about great educational opportunities at home and abroad. Sultan said he would focus more on his studies to ensure that he would be able to qualify for admission to foreign universities and earn scholarship. He said many universities were offering scholarships that could be tapped.

Nida Ali, an A-Level student who was visiting along with her class-fellows, said she and her friends got information about academic programmes, market trends at international level and visa requirements.

Stalls were set up by universities from across the world, including the UK, the USA, Canada and Pakistan. Dawn

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