Education at Nazeer Hussain University suffers amid rift in MQM

The university is in the midst of an academic, administrative crisis


Safdar Rizvi February 26, 2018
PHOTO: COURTESY NAZEER HUSSAIN UNIVERSITY

KARACHI: Internal politics within the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have led to a crisis in Nazeer Hussain University (NHU), a private institution named after the father of party founder Altaf Hussain. The university is on the verge of ruin, both academically and administratively.

Administratively, Dr Arshad Vohra is still the chancellor of the varsity. He left the party to join the Pak Sarzameen Party.

The situation at the private varsity is dismal - there are no science laboratories in the engineering department, compelling students to go to use laboratories at public universities. The lack of accreditation from the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) has left students on shaky ground. If the varsity does not get accredited before they graduate, the students will be not registered as engineers, despite the money and hard work they put into their education.

Several departments of the varsity have no senior faculty members and are being run by junior and part-time teachers. The very few permanent faculty, part-time teachers and employees are not paid on time, often going months without being paid their salaries.

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The university was established in 2013 and has yet to properly equip its laboratories with the proper facilities, forcing students to sit through theory classes at the varsity and then going to NED University of Engineering and Technology for practical classes.

The situation has deteriorated to the point that the laboratories of the electrical and mechanical engineering departments are completely devoid of equipment. On the request of the Nazeer Hussain University management, NED University had granted temporary permission to the students to attend practical classes at their campus. According to sources, the students have been taking the practical classes at NED University for the sixth consecutive semester. This has been a practice since the spring semester of 2016 or earlier.

Sources said that the PEC had not been called upon for a final accreditation tour due to the lack of laboratories. The graduating batch is unlikely to be PEC-registered engineers.

Many of the teachers at NHU are recent graduates – junior staff is teaching in the architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering departments. Many of the departments are also run by part-time staff instead of permanent staff. Sources claimed that the head of the mechanical engineering department holds a degree in mathematics. Only the electrical, mechanical and architecture have permanent staff – the rest of the faculties are being run by part-time teachers.

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Apart from a lack of teachers, the varsity also lacks a dean. The varsity’s vice-chancellor has joined Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology as the acting VC.

Meanwhile, Pharmacy Department Chairperson Professor Dr Nighat has been appointed acting vice-chancellor. Administratively, the varsity is under MQM-Pakistan. However, it remains uncertain which faction of the MQM is now controlling the varsity.

Express News reached out to Dr Nighat, who refused to comment on the situation.

The varsity’s administrator, Shuja Zaheer, said only the board of governors or the political party leader concerned can comment on the matter. He said that the university’s administrative matters are looked after by MQM-Pakistan Convener Dr Farooq Sattar and MNA Kanwar Naveed.

When asked about the academic matters and lack of laboratory equipment, he said a lack of laboratories is common at several private varsities. He said NHU has Higher Education Commission approval for its students to attend practical classes at other universities. Zaheer was, however, unable to answer who possessed the HEC letter allowing their students to attend classes at other varsities and what universities were mentioned in it.

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When contacted, NHU VC Dr Altaf Hussain, who is not a relation of the MQM founder, said many things are being improved at the varsity. Pending salaries are being released and the board of governors is striving to improve academic matters, he said.

MQM’s Bahadurabad faction spokesperson Aminul Haque told Express News that the registrar and VC have not been paid their salaries for the past several months. However, he said the party’s coordination committee has handed over the responsibility to improve varsity matters to one of its members who possesses a PhD and is an education expert, Dr Abdul Qadir Khanzada.

Haque said that MQM has been facing financial issues for some time, while the raids and arrests had made the party offices non-functional, which in turn affected the varsity. According to him, the MQM will strive to run the varsity on a ‘no profit and no loss’ basis. He said that the authority to change the VC rests with the board of governors and now a non-political education expert will be deputed as the VC. Haque said efforts will also be made to obtain PEC accreditation.

Dr Hussain said he is aware that he is being removed from his post. He said he does not require written confirmation of his dismissal.

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