KARACHI: Due to the administrative crisis prevailing for years, the future of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) seems to be at stake. The varsity was established in 2002 after upgrading two campuses of the historic Federal Urdu Science College, Karachi founded by Baba-e-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq in 1949 for the teaching of all contemporary subjects in the country's national language.
The crisis at the varsity worsened in the past two years. Misadministration and appointments based on politics and nepotism have marred the varsity which provided higher education to public at affordable cost.
Fuuast's administration has been in severe turbulence since Dr Zafar Iqbal was appointed vice-chancellor (VC) in 2015. Many had placed high hopes in Dr Iqbal regarding improvements in the administration and academic environment but these hopes were shattered when he was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau on corruption charges.
After Dr Iqbal, Dr Sulaiman D Muhammad was appointed VC. For quite a while, the new VC has been surrounded by a controversy regarding his PhD thesis. He was charged with plagiarism and an investigation committee of the University of Karachi (KU) recommended withdrawal of his PhD degree, claiming to have found evidence supporting claims that his thesis was plagiarised.
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Several departments of Fuuast witnessed closure during the Dr Sulaiman's tenure. The Pakistan Bar Council and Pharmacy Council of Pakistan revoked their accreditation of the varsity, attributing lack of teachers and infrastructure, dooming the future of law and pharmacy students. Many students approached the courts to secure their future.
Lack of teachers has also been a major issue at the varsity. According to reports, 10 to 12 teachers have been retiring from the varsity every year but no replacements have been hired.
Presently, 10,000 students are enrolled in the bachelor's and master's degree programmes of the varsity. Due to upheaval in the administrative matters, suggestions of Fuuast's shutting down are arising, posing a threat to the future of enrolled students.
HEC chairperson's statement
A few days ago, at an event at KU, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson Mukhtar Ahmed warned that in the current situation Fuuast can no longer function.
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"Either the condition of the university will be improved or it will be closed and demoted to the rank of a college," Dr Ahmed said.
The HEC chairperson pointed out that some elements were not allowing the university to function, as petitions were filed related to the varsity on a daily basis. He claimed that many improvements introduced in the varsity were blocked due to stay orders granted by the court. The situation has adversely affected the administrative matters of the varsity and deepened the crisis, he said.
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