KU's four-year BS programme creates academic crisis
Karachi, Sept 05: The University of Karachi faces a serious academic crisis that is bound to affect thousands of students' future either enrolled or have completed their four-year education under the BS (Bachelor of Studies) programme last year, it has been learnt.
Sources said most of the over 4,000 BS students who passed last year and were now waiting for their degrees would end up having second division while students already announced as position holders under the BS system were likely to lose their status once their marks would be converted into the old honours and MSc/MA system.
Currently, around 25,000 students are enrolled under the BS programme at the university.
Students were allowed to opt for conversion of their marks into the old system of education after many students failed to get the required marks to get their degrees under the BS system.
Students argued that when they started seeking jobs, prospective employers were not considering the BS degree holders for jobs and demanded a master's degree holder.
Resultantly, a series of protests were held that forced the university administration to do a 'somersault' and allow conversion of marks into the old system as well as restore the old honours and masters' programme from 2012.
"The student failure is directly linked to the large number of high-level compulsory courses introduced under the BS system by the KU administration with teachers' support," a senior KU teacher remarked.
"These courses, most of them were irrelevant to the subject in which students planned to do their major proved to be a great burden on students who lost focus."
The university, he said, adopted the BS system reportedly under the Higher Education Commission's pressure without doing adequate homework that caused a great deal of problems to students and will definitely further undermine the credibility of
the KU degree.
"Many students would face a dilemma. Though they would get their degrees under the old system as its passing percentage is much lower as compared to the BS system, a masters' degree with second division would obviously limit their prospects of seeking advanced studies and employment," he said, adding that the issues in conversion could only be solved through
amendment to relevant rules.
The BS system was introduced by the HEC a few years ago to make students compatible with those studying in the American system of education.
The KU is, probably, the only public sector university in the country that has abolished the old British system as many universities offer both the BS and the honours programme.
Although the KU has abolished the old educational system in the morning shift of the university, it continues with the same in the evening shift along the BS system. The reasons are monetary; the HEC's pressure to stop funding led to the abandoning of the old system while attracting candidates for a self-financed master's programme in the evening.
The students' argument that employers were not considering the BS degree holders for employment hold logical grounds because the HEC neither created public awareness that the BS degree was equivalent to the master's degree as students were told in the beginning of the programme, nor any official notification was issued in this regard.
In fact, newspaper advertisements showed that the HEC itself called for candidates with a master's degree.Senior teachers are of the opinion that the university's academic council's decision over a month ago to restore the BSc, the BA, the BCom (honours) and the two-year MA, the MSc and the MCom programmes and continuing with the BS programme from next year is another example of the ad hoc and unplanned nature of the decision-making process currently prevailing on the campus.
They argued that the BS and the old honours and masters programmes were two entirely different systems of evaluating students' potential and the conversion option with the restoration of the old system and the continuation of the BS system would only further compound the academic confusion at the university.
"A student gets a bachelor's degree after 16 years of education in the BS system [while they were entitled to a master's degree in the old system for the same number of years] or, if the student is a graduate from a college, he would end up with receiving double bachelors' degrees," a teacher explained.
Besides, the students studied a number of additional courses in the BS system, which were not required in the old system.
"The marks of these courses have to be excluded for conversion which would affect the academic status of students, including those of position holders," he said.
The huge difference in their evaluation mechanism, he said, could be gauged from the fact that a student with an overall 60 percentage was considered in the first division in the old system of marking while a candidate having less than 62 percentage didn't even qualify to receive his or her degree in the BS system.
The currently enrolled students, he said, as well as teachers had no clue as to how they would proceed because the university hadn't yet given them a clear guideline, though more than a month had passed since the academic council took the relevant decision.
"We are making a fun of ourselves by taking ad-hoc decisions. How can anyone justify giving a masters degree to a student enrolled in an undergraduate programme?" a teacher said.
KU Pro Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi said that a committee had been set up to sort out the conversion issues and till the time the body presented its recommendations, it was too early to comment on it.
"I don't know under what pressures the university decided to adopt the BS system since I was not part of the administration at that time. But, what I do know is that the university had been running the old programmes very successfully for decades and it was an unwise step on part of the HEC to ask universities to discontinue the programme."
The old programmes, she said, had been restored after the university officials realised that it wasn't contributing to raising the students' educational standard. DawnYour Comments
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This decision was taken by a meeting chaired by the chief minister on Sunday.
The meeting also decided that Cadet College Petaro would offer the Chinese language as a compulsory subject from Class VI, and the Bureau of Curriculum would soon give its approval in this regard.
Meanwhile, the relevant departments and offices have been directed to prepare rules and regulations on an emergency basis so that education department could induct the language as a course into the syllabus, according to a handout issued from the CM House.
China is a close friend and neighbour of Pakistan. Students who adopted the language course during their schooling would get scholarships, foreign training and overseas study tours and other benefits, a spokesperson for the chief minister said.
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It said the admission forms for bachelors, masters and four-year BS degree program in all disciplines would be issued on Sept 5.
The forms can also be downloaded from the university's website www.usindh.edu.pk.
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