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Urdu varsity leaves staff, students in the lurch: Evening programme closure

KARACHI, July 9: The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) seems to have opted for making losses and keeping hundreds of students in a fix over their desire to learn as it could not resume its evening programme this year after running it successfully for five years.

The university has cited financial losses leading to the decision to do away with the evening programme but the institution's accounts show considerable profits earned through the programme, based on the self-financing scheme.

The balance sheets reflect the fact that it was, in fact, a major source of the university's income.

According to sources, until last year, the more than 1,500 students had been enrolled in the evening programme, that offers disciplines like Business Administration, Commerce, Computer Science, Mass Communication, Education, English, etc. The net profit stood at around Rs29,052,600, they added.

The profit and loss accounts of the Business Administration, Commerce and Computer Science show a net profit of Rs10,300,000, Rs1,800,000 and Rs2,800,000, respectively, according to sources. Even after deducting the declared loss of Rs747,400 vis-a-vis other disciplines, like Economics, Mass Communication, Education and English, the net profit came to no less than Rs29,052,600, the sources argued.

Apart from considering the profit and the students' keen interest in the programme unimportant, the varsity's hierarchy's approach and measures have created an impression that the quality and standards of education had deliberately been kept low, the sources say, pointing out that many of the university's departments are still pursuing the annual examination system.

A senior FUUAST official maintained that there were two major obstacles in continuing with the evening programme this year, one being the losses that were being made by certain departments.

"Although the other departments were gaining profits, the overall assessment point to an average loss," Dr Qamarul Haq, the university's Registrar insisted when contacted.

Identifying the second major obstacle, he said the institution was without power generators while frequent and prolonged electricity failures had become a matter of daily routine in Karachi. He noted that for projects like evening programme, uninterrupted power supply was a must.

"However, funds have now been arranged to procure power generators," Dr Haq revealed, adding that chairmen of some departments have been asked to prepare a feasibility report of their respective disciplines with a view to resume the evening programme.

A student at the university's Abdul Haq Campus made mention of a senior varsity official's remarks he had given while talking to a group of students that "the programme was suspended because of the growing trend of male and female students forming couples while being on the campus."

Tauseef Ahmed Khan, Chairman of the Department of Mass Communication, stated that his department had last year proposed switching over to semester system but the in-charge vice-chancellor deferred the matter to next year, without citing any reason.

He said his department's teachers had even offered free service of one class each to help the varsity contain the financial losses, as claimed by the management.

Meanwhile, the FUUAST Teachers' Association has appealed to the deputy chairman of the varsity's senate to intervene and help restore the evening programme. Caretaker President Ashraf Khurram and Secretary-General Prof Abdul Ghafoor Baloch of the association accused the institution's ad-hoc administration of having some ulterior motives vis-a-vis the Abdul Haq (Arts) Campus. dawn
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