Quantity over quality: ‘Tussle over intermediate admissions will hurt higher education’

Published: July 10, 2013

The district’s only postgraduate college had 31 classrooms for over 800 BS students, says Professor Shahjehan. PHOTO: FILE

HARIPUR: 

The administration of Government Postgraduate College (GPC) in Haripur succumbed to public pressure and agreed to open admissions for intermediate students after a ban of over a month, officials said. 

However, the college administration claimed this would negatively affect the BS programmes currently running at the GPC and the decision to refuse new admissions was in line with a policy the Department for Higher Education (DHE) had approved for the GPC two years ago.

Parents and officials from the DHE said the college administration had refused to admit students seeking enrolment in first year arts and science groups for the last month. This invited criticism from political leaders and students who threatened to stage protests against the administration.

The GPC, however, has its own justification for refusing new admissions. Principal Professor Shahjehan said the DHE had approved four-year BS programmes for the college two years ago, with the intermediate programme to be shifted to higher secondary schools. However, given the fact that Haripur had only 16 higher secondary schools, former minister for higher education Qazi Asad forced the college to allow admissions to all the aspirants who fulfilled the criteria.

Professor Shahjehan said the college had inaugurated 11 new departments for the BS programmes, but no provisions in terms of additional staff or newly-constructed classrooms were given. “This made it difficult for the college administration to keep both BS and intermediate programmes running simultaneously,” he added. Professor Shahjehan explained the district’s only postgraduate college had 31 classrooms for over 800 BS students. “This does not include the 650 intermediate students who also have to be accommodated. Only 60 teachers are available for all these students.”

Despite these alarming figures, the GPC was directed to open intermediate admissions due to increasing political pressure. In order to cope, the principal said 100 students would be enrolled each for arts and science groups. Higher Education Secretary Farah Hamid Khan has also reportedly approved the construction of a BS block comprising 24 rooms. Hamid also promised 31 new teachers, according to Professor Shahjehan.

“Running intermediate classes is a waste of resources as teachers in secondary schools are better trained in dealing with school-level students,” said Professor Shahjehan. “When these schools have all the resources, higher education institutes like the GPC should be allowed to run BS programmes effectively.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.

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