University fees going up and up
Islamabad, July 11: Kashif Nazir's dream to pursue higher education remains a dream.
When he applied for an MPhil programme in a public university, he was told the course would cost Rs40,000. But it was increased to Rs58,000 as Nazir was about to submit fee.
The young man, struggling to make ends meet, walked away from the counter planning to apply later, hoping against hope that someday tuition fees would cost less.
Higher education has never been a right but now it's a privilege – tied to your wallet.
"A student from an ordinary family could get through higher education but the way fees in both private and public universities are increasing, soon only the rich will have access to it," said Hafeezur Rehman, chairman Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU).
The reality is amply reflected in the arbitrary increases in tuition fees in the universities.
At Rs60,500 per semester, four years Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) programme from the Bahria University for their child would cost parents approximately Rs500,000. A BBA from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) costs Rs66,000 per semester. If parents thought that were expensive, a similar programme from the privately owned Iqra University today would cost Rs125,000 a year. Their Masters in Business Administration (MBA) costs the same.
And the fee structures for BBA and MBA programmes from the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) were as intimidating – Rs77,000 per semester.
"It's impossible to meet expenses. University expenditures exceeded Rs2 billion a year and funds from the government were not coming, especially when we have some of the most expensive faculty who are paid Rs250,000 plus," said an IIUI official, who insisted on anonymity. He added that the university had no choice but to pass expenses onto students.
In Iqra University a few faculty members emphasised on higher fees for quality education given the costs associated with bringing in faculty from the market and laboratories and libraries.
However, Dr AH Nayyar, who was a visiting faculty in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), did not agree. He believed that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) or some organisation should regulate fee structures in universities.
"But HEC has no such mechanism. It has given a free hand to universities to generate funds whichever way possible. This is why universities are running programmes of commercial nature that I believe ignore merit," said Dr Nayyar, who has a teaching experience stretching over 50 years.
Sad that the education was not government's priority, Dr Hafeez lamented most of the higher education programmes offered at QAU were now being run on self-finance basis. "There's need for a check on the fee structure. A limit must be set."
But Sohail Naqvi, executive director HEC, points towards costs of imparting quality higher education. "The problem in Pakistan is that the government is not providing enough support while the desire is not to compromise on the quality of education," he said.
"Graduates are now competing not just nationally but also internationally. Higher education is heavily subsidised in Europe.
In the American model significant funding comes from government. But an even bigger chunk of money comes from a well developed corporate sector and philanthropic activities."
But he made clear that the policy was not to deny higher education based on ability to pay. "Universities are grappling with this issue. HEC is encouraging them to generate funding through contract research, philanthropic activities and other areas so that the fees should be such that students are not denied quality education."
He said universities did not want to increase fees but at the same time government resources into education had been decreasing.
Mr Naqvi suggested "multi-pronged solutions" to the issue of high fees structures, saying the government provides funds and universities identify needy students for scholarship programmes. Dawn
PU insecure environment
Lahore: The Punjab University (PU) has once again attracted media attention owing to insecure environment on campus. Over the years there had been dozens of incidents of motorbike theft from within the university campus and each time the university claims to have beefed up its security.
Saturday's (July 9, 2011) incident in which a student was injured in a dacoity attempt by some dacoits at an overhead bridge near PU Hostel No 15 has caused unrest among the students who demand strict security measures in and around the university.
A student has even written a letter to the PU vice-chancellor expressing concern over poor security situation at the university. He suggested the PU administration to provide some specific number to the university students so that they might contact the administration in case of emergency while on campus. According to the student, the PU security guards have been provided walkie-talkie sets but students have never been given any emergency contact number even the one related to the university ambulances in case of any kind of emergency. PU Resident Officer (RO-I) Javed Sami says police authorities have been requested to depute policemen at overhead bridges near the university so that such incidents might not take place in future.
Students being fleeced over entrance tests
Lahore: With the approaching admission season, local markets have been flooded with guidebooks while the entrance test preparation phenomenon has also reached its peak.
For the last couple of years, the prospective students, seeking admission to professional colleges and universities such as medical and engineering disciplines, were required to appear in entrance tests but now the universities had also started testing students for admission to other academic programmes. The practice has led to a mushroom growth of entrance test preparation centres. Today, there are chains of such centres as earlier was the case with private schools and colleges only.
With the mushroom growth of such centres, the unfortunate aspect of fleecing students in the name of education has also been growing unchecked just because of the government's indifferent attitude and reluctance to regulate affairs of private sector in the field of education. The entrance test preparation centres have been charging hefty amounts from students to make them familiar with the test requirements and prepare them for the same to secure admission to medical colleges and engineering varsities, etc. However, those who cannot bear heavy fees of tuition and coaching centres rely on guidebooks available in the market. The prevailing situation has also led to the launch of different websites by individuals offering entrance test-related information, guidance and sample tests to students.
Best university teacher award
Lahore: Prof Dr Ruhi Khalid, Director Institute of Psychology of a private university has been selected for the Best University Teachers Award for the year 2010 by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan. According to a press statement, the award consists of a certificate and cash prize of Rs 100,000. The award will be conferred upon her in a ceremony scheduled on July 12, 2011 at HEC Auditorium, Islamabad.
PGMI interviews schedule
Lahore: Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI) has announced the schedule of interviews for 2011-12 academic session admissions on the website www.pgmipunjab.edu.pk. A press release here on Sunday said over 1,000 doctors from all over the country submitted their applications for specialisation in 47 diploma and degree courses in the institute.
GCU won bilingual contest
Lahore: The Debating Society of Government College University (GCU) organised N.M Rashid Bilingual Debating Contest on Saturday.
In Urdu Debates, Sadaf Aslam secured first position while Hafiz Ali Moeudin and Rashid Jahyan were declared second and third respectively.
In English Debates, Sahibzada Amir Khusro won the first position while Rehan was declared second. Ali Gee Saleemi and Shoiab Ahmed shared the third position.
GCU Dean Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Prof Dr Khalid Pervaiz congratulated the debaters who had won positions. Noted debaters Mian Fraz and Israrul Hassan adjudicated the bilingual debates. The news