Universities to be ranked as per international yardstick
Islamabad, June 09: The ranking of universities as per international standards would be conducted by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), said HEC Chairman Dr. Javaid Laghari during an exclusive interview.
He said that letters have been written to vice chancellors of all universities to submit their relevant documents by July 15. "We will gauge the performance of universities as per international yardstick. Hopefully, we will be able to complete the process by the end of current year," he said.
He said that there was a misconception among people as well as universities when they mix up categories with ranking. "We have categorised universities according to their infrastructure, but universities often appear claiming that they have achieved the highest ranking of the HEC, which is not true," he added.
He said that the HEC has divided universities into four categories - 'w', 'x', 'y' and 'z' - according to their infrastructure, which does not mean that a university which has been categorised as 'w' stands first in ranking. "Ranking is something altogether different from categorisation.
Ranking includes everything, including the quality of education, research projects, faculty, infrastructure and much more," he added.
He said that from June 2011, there would be no category other than 'w'. "We have given the time period of one year to universities to improve their category. Now the time is over. There will not be any category other than 'w'. Instead from now on we would have 'w1' 'w2' and 'w3' categories," he informed.
He said that the HEC has asked vice-chancellors to broaden the concept of universities instead of carrying forward its old definition. "Universities should play an important role in building economy. They should not only focus on research, but also to connect research with industries," he added.
He said that the HEC was planning to open incubation centres in universities to connect research with industry. "We have a plan to open four incubation centres this year and replicate these centres the next year," he said.
Laghari said that it was an unfortunate fact that monetary problems were a big hindrance in conducting research activities in universities. "In the US, every ministry has a funding department. A research proposal is submitted to the relevant department and grant is released for the execution of that research. That is not the case with Pakistan. Everyone looks at the HEC for the release of funds, which itself is facing shortage of funds," he maintained.
He said that the approved PSDP of Rs14 billion for the HEC was not enough to cater to the research needs of universities. "Rs16.5 billion is the demand of World Bank to invest in the HEC in order to achieve the IDA," he said.
He said that the World Bank team would soon visit Pakistan to talk on the budget issue. "It is quite possible that the World Bank will reduce the amount of loan," he added.
Talking about 'The News Education Expo' he said that the event was an ideal opportunity for students to get awareness about important higher education providers in foreign as well as local universities. "Students have an opportunity to compare programmes of different universities side by side and get on the spot career counselling," he said.
He said that students through education expo get better judgment in terms of their career choice. "They come to know about various new fields unlike previously when there were only three to four fields that students wanted to join," he added.Your Comments
Higher education awareness in students of remote areas urged
Islamabad: The dynamism of education has changed altogether in the 21st century. If we fail to adopt an aggressive approach in the field of higher education then comparatively we will lag behind other South Asian countries, said Iqra University Dean Dr. Jamil Ahmad.
He said that there is a dire need to give awareness about university education in remote areas, as students living there are passionate about seeking higher education. Representatives of universities should go to remote areas and provide them information regarding degrees they are offering. "We should give them awareness about scholarships being offered so that more and more students belonging to remote areas get enrolled in universities. There are positive developments in universities, but only in big cities. We need to focus on other cities also so that students are given higher education in their own cities instead of facing accommodation problems studying in big cities. We need to open universities in Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khairpur, Faisalabad, Sukkur, Talagang and Dera Ismail Khan where higher education should be offered," he added.
The government, he said, could do this by upgrading the existing academic institutions by making them degree-awarding institutions. Like in Chakdara, Malakand Agency, the Malakand University is running successfully with various departments. "We need to create institutions for our 80 million young people closer to their places of residence so that their influx does not disturb the existing universities and minimise their dropout ratio. Similarly in Mardan, the Wali Khan University is providing diverse knowledge in 28 departments.
"At Iqra University, we focus on quality education as students are provided with lectures on CDs after their classes. We focus on blended learning that includes the chatrooms we have created for students, which can be accessed on Sundays also if they have a query or any problem regarding their project. According to the list published by the HEC, the research output rating of the Iqra University was on number 38 for the year 2010 among all research-based universities in Pakistan," he added.
He said: "Internationally the university creates knowledge and guides society to teach whatever is required for the local environment and market, but we are doing vice versa here where society guides the university to teach whatever is feasible for that society. Our faculty contributes to international journals, but they should pass on their knowledge to our own society. The university has placement cells, which create links with industries. It is mandatory for the university to update or change 33% of its technology on yearly basis to be at par with international standards."
The UK government under Prime Minister Initiative (PMI) initiated a programme for third world countries to sustain their universities for a grant of three years under which masters in engineering, business management and MBA are offered. Career counselling and skill development is done under Career Department at the Iqra University. Industrialisation is another important aspect at the Iqra University where 99% of the technology is coming from abroad. We have opened two international societies in the university, which are Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) and Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), which have millions of members world over. These societies update students about latest research and development work done internationally through their newsletters.
The dean emphasised that the government should launch new schemes for universities and facilitate them. Public-private partnership should be encouraged and there must be a check and balance system for the university, but they should work independently and should be able to solve their own problems. For the upcoming 'The News Education Expo,' Dr. Jamil suggested that the exhibition should be held in spring and fall so that students could benefit more. The news
IIUI sandwiched between encroachments
Islamabad: Encroachments threaten the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) not just from two or three different sides but even on the campus itself.
It's not just the expanding katchi abadi (slums) between the IIUI and Sector I-10 that today surround almost two sides of the campus and a shrine sitting in its grounds but Capital Development Authority's machine pool organisation (MPO) directorate and an asphalt mixing plant from the Kashmir Highway side also extend into the university premises, making obstacles to several development projects of the educational institution.
According to IIUI officials, the growing slums was a major security hazard especially after two suicide bombers struck on the campus in October 2009 claiming nearly a dozen lives mostly students and injuring several others.
"Instead of controlling the spread of the katchi abadis, most of the dwellers of these mud houses have broken through the university fences and encroached on our property," said an official who stood at the site pointing towards the slum and explaining how women and children would cross the fences into the university property to collect wood and grass.
A few years ago the IIUI had paid Rs100 million out of its own budget to compensate the dwellers of another village and got the land vacated.
So much so a small dairy farmer had found a depression almost hidden from the eyes just behind the shrine on the campus whose buffalos would stray into the university plains to graze.
"CDA officials have themselves found a resting place in the shrine. It started from a small grave with a temporary shelter. It is now a multi-storey structure with several rooms," an official with the IIUI administration explained.
Apart from the expanding slums, another big problem, according the IIUI, was CDA's machine pool organisation directorate where dumper trucks, tractor-trolleys, heavy construction machinery and other vehicles blocked the only entrance to the university every morning from the Kashmir Highway.
"It's a nuisance. All CDA heavy vehicular machinery is parked there. Many others come for refueling and repairing that block the only passage into the university from the Kashmir Highway," said the university official who also explained how foul-smelling thick clouds of smokes bellowed from the chimneys of the asphalt plant and polluted the air on the campus in the evenings.
"In 2007, when the then Rector Justice Khalilur Rehman held a meeting with the then chairman CDA and IGP Islamabad, it was recorded in minutes that the MPO and the mixing plant would be shifted and all encroachments removed," said another official, explaining how the commitment was never fulfilled despite repeated correspondence with the civic authority.
The CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajjid believed there was a solution to the workshop and the mixing plant. "The workshop and the plant have been there before the land was allotted to the university. The administrations from both sides can sit together to sort out the problem and the workshop and the plant can be shifted," he said.
However, CDA suddenly woke up to their obligations but with a vengeful tone when it turned the tables on the IIUI that all its structures violated CDA's building plan.
"All IIUI buildings are in violation of CDA building plans. CDA has not given any approval of their building plans. Any construction whether a private home, government building, even if it is the general headquarters or the president house, all must have their sites and building plans approved from the civic authority's building control service " said the CDA spokesman.
"Following the directions from the chairman CDA to take notice of all building plan violations, the authority has served notices to all educational establishments who have erected illegal structures. In fact, a report has been prepared that includes names of all educational institutions including FAST and NUST that have violated building code. The report has been presented to the Departmental Accounts Committee (DAC) and the Public Accounts Committee," the spokesman explained, adding how the chairman CDA was committed to ensuring all structures conformed to the building plans.
When the concerned IIUI official was contacted to confirm the allegation, he responded: "All site and building plans were sent to the CDA for their approval on several occasions. The civic authority delayed the approval indefinitely. The university could not hold its development plans for ever. The university had immediate needs and went ahead with construction plans.
CDA will probably now have to make amendments to legalise the constructions. Almost 11 years on, IIU construction/building plans have not yet been approved." Dawn
AIOU signs MoU with JICA to get Radio/TV equipment
Islamabad: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) to provide modern Radio and TV broadcasts equipments worth Rs 50 million.
AIOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Nazir Ahmed Sangi and JICA Chief Representative in Pakistan Taka Joshi Mishikata signed the MoU.
The equipments have already been selected by the JICA and the scope of work agreement covers the physical installation of the equipment.
The agreement was finalized in a meeting attended by three members of JICA in Pakistan and Director and other two officials of the Institute of Educational Technology (IET), AIOU. Before signing the agreement, Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Nazir A. Sangi briefed the JICA members about the future plans of the university and its efforts to ensure access of every child to education in remote areas of the country. He said the AIOU would continue to work with the JICA for expanding its educational efforts. Under the follow up project for which the scope of work signed by two members, JICA will provide additional and supplementary support to AIOU through replacement and repairs of broadcast equipment procured at Institute of Educational Technology of AIOU. Dr. Sangi thanked JICA for its cooperation since many years for establishing the Radio, TV studios and Printing Press of the university, facilitating the students across the country through university' programmes. The modern equipments of JICA will help university in making Audio/Video educational CDs. AIOU is reaching toward the far-flung areas like Umer Kot, Dera Ghazi and Baluchistan to educate the people, enabling the country to get rid of illiteracy and poverty.
Dr Sangi expressed grief on the recent earthquake in Japan and over the losses in Sonami. Daily times
Manto chair suggested at Tehran varsity
Islamabad: Stressing the need to promote Urdu language and literature on modern lines, the speakers at a two-day seminar suggested that Saadat Hassan Manto chair should be established at Tehran University.
The suggestion came at the concluding session of the two-day International Urdu Seminar on 'Teaching Urdu at Universities: New Dimensions and Methodologies' organised by the Numl's Urdu Language department in collaboration with the HEC on Wednesday.
The seminar was organised with an aim to analyse the prevailing conditions of the Urdu language teaching at university level and discuss the problems of language teaching, compare the compatibility of Urdu syllabus being taught at Pakistani universities with the global scenario and to explore new dimensions of Urdu language teaching in Pakistani universities.
The participants stressed the need to initiate training courses for the Urdu language teachers and also asked the HEC to start an authentic Urdu research journal.
Speaking at the concluding session, DG Numl Brig Azam Jamal said: "We should provide maximum opportunities to scholars conducting research on Urdu language and literature and adopt such teaching methodologies that are compatible with modern requirements."
Earlier, speaking at the opening session, Prof Dr Aziz Ahmad Khan said the teaching methodologies are the backbone of education, research and critical inquiry. He said the teaching methods being followed presently were based on the old practice of prose reading.
Dr Abul Kalam Qasimi, Professor Urdu Department, Aligarh Muslim University, India, in his research paper on 'New Perspective of Teaching of Urdu at Postgraduate Level: Need and Importance' presented a detailed view on how Urdu language was being taught in schools, colleges and universities.
He said modern techniques used for teaching of languages and related subjects in different universities of the world should also be followed while teaching Urdu at different levels.
Dr Nawazish Ali, Head of Urdu Department Government College Asghar Mall, Rawalpindi, analysed the research paper of Dr Abul Kalam and discussed modern teaching techniques to be used for Urdu literature and language. Dawn
Principal's manhandling: College teachers protest
Nowshera: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa College Teachers Association decided at an emergency meeting on Wednesday to protest the manhandling of the Government College Pabbi principal by a student who also insulted the examination staff on duty during the BA/BSc examination at the college.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the association chaired by Prof Nasrullah. The principals of all government colleges in Peshawar, Mardan, Nowshera and Charsadda district including Mukarram Khan, Tariq Khan, Amjad Khan, Masroor Shahid, Syed Ali Shah and Arbab Waheed attended the meeting along with a large number of teachers.
The participants condemned the manhandling of Prof Masroor Shahid by a student of graduate studies named Shahinshah in the institute. They expressed concern over the incident as the accused also terrorised the invigilating staff conducting the BA/BSc examination at the Pabbi College.
Speaking on the occasion, Nasrullah Khan, the KP president of the association, said nobody could be allowed to violate the sanctity of the educational institutes. He asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and vice-chancellor, University of Peshawar, to take note of the incident, punish the responsible persons and stop outside interference during the examination conducted by the UoP. They threatened that the college teachers would stage protest across the province unless action was taken against the accused. The news