Commercialising our campuses?

Isn't KU an educational institution? How can it have advertising billboards across its premises?

Ferya Ilyas August 27, 2011

So there is a proposal of putting up advertisement billboards inside the Karachi University (KU) premises.

The 1,800 acres of campus houses numerous departments, research centres and teachers’ housing societies. It has its own marketplace with shops for grocery, tailoring and electrical repair work. Huge billboards are precisely what this city-like campus is lacking.

But is KU an educational institution? How can it have advertising billboards on its premises?

Shouldn’t an education institution’s sole purpose be to impart education to its students? And how would setting up billboards on campus fit into this scheme of things given that its main purpose would be generate funds and would end up commercialising the campus.

The point I am trying to make is that there are some places that ought not to be commercialised — ever; and an institution of higher learning is certainly among them.

Imagine yourself listening to a sermon in a mosque. You look around and you see a life-size billboard in the mosque’s courtyard. Imagine yourself visiting a graveyard. You recite the fateha and look up and you see a billboard right opposite the graveyard.

The same logic should apply to institutions of learning. One cannot justify advertising billboards on their premises because that defeats the very purpose of what these institutions are supposed to be offering to their students. The University of Karachi has over 24,000 students and it has to be said that it has a tough time providing quality education. So instead of looking to generate additional funding from allowing billboards on campus it should instead explore ways and means to improve the quality of its teaching.

The government provided funds and the money accumulated from admission and semester fee are apparently too little to cover the total cost. The only option the administration is left with is to cut down the expenditure. Many faculty members are heard of complaining delayed salary payments.

Other ways to generate additional funds could be by competing for research grants offered by various international organisations or to seek the involvement of the corporate sector in scholarship funding for particularly bright students.

Selling off space for commercial use should be the last option.

Ferya Ilyas
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


MH | 12 years ago | Reply What's so wrong with the billboard? I would say the KU buses should also get mileage by letting companies advertise on them. KU needs money. Period. The only problem I do have is, KU's top management is terribly corrupt, be is fake degrees, admissions based on political affiliations...Imagine, the dean of faculty management sciences is famous for saying "Everything has a purpose: The door is dooring, the fan is fanning, we are all scared of gloo-balee-zation". That being said, there are professors there who hang on to the past glory of this institution. Before the 1980s, you never saw any burqa clad women there, well the rich I guess didn't have much of a choice but to go here, but it's hallowed halls were decked with professors that wore tweed jackets...who had to chase students to take classes..there were students who would write long poems for their girlfriends, jump out of windows to avoid education but still work their butts off in libraries later on. Hell, there would always be that one girl who would make everyone swoon with her knee length skirt and audrey hepburn hairstyle... Professors who had studied at Yale, Stanford, MIT, Harvard, came back to teach here. One recommendation from them and you got your admissions down pat. They were good days, the thing that KU suffers from is the outflux of good people. The bad thing with corruption is, it attracts more and more corrupt ones into the folds. Politics killed KU, and it will keep bringing it down further.
Green Lantern | 12 years ago | Reply I don't like billboards in University campuses,but I don't mind markets inside campuses,it seems like the author has never studied outside of Pakistan,there are many "University towns" in North America and other parts of the world,I mean what's wrong with having shops and restaurants on college campuses? Also many major Universities in North America have their own "state-of-the-art" football and basketball stadiums,as-well as their own gymnasiums which are accessible to everybody on campus. I think the biggest threat to education in Pakistan are student unions not billboards,I don't understand why do students need to take part in politics on campus,Student Unions are a third world concept,here in the states we have student body organizations which look out for students rights,they are not political at all. P.S I don't like billboards,because they're bad for the enviorment. P.P.S I also don't like extremist organisations in Pakistani University campuses.
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