KARACHI: Maladministration by the authorities of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) has complicated and potentially delayed the admissions process for the institute’s MPhil and PhD programmes, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to a member of the university’s staff, the announcement of admissions without surveying the number of seats available for students under each professor has become a major nuisance for the university’s authorities.
The problem arose after the quality assurance division of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) sent a letter to the university, pointing out certain rules and regulations regarding the criteria for enrolling students in MPhil and PhD programmes, particularly that each HEC approved postgraduate supervisor could only be assigned seven MPhil and five PhD students, said FUUAST Arts Campus Teachers Society General Secretary Prof Irfan Aziz.
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The letter, which was received on December 3 last year after some 169 candidates for the university’s Karachi and 79 candidates for its Islamabad campuses, had already cleared the entrance test, warned that HEC would have to dismiss any admission that contravened its rules. It also warned that the university would be forced to pay students whose admissions would be revoked in this manner three times what they paid in admission fees in addition to disciplinary action against university staff.
Furthermore, if somehow the university did not act upon the recommendations and continued the practice by neglecting HEC’s orders, students would face difficulties during the degree verification process.
A committee formed
To address the issue, the university formed a committee comprising former dean of science Robina Mushtaq, Dean of Arts Dr Zia, Professor Sajid Jehangir from the Department of Chemistry and Naveed Qaimkhani from the Islamabad campus, Prof Aziz said. He added, however, that Dr Zia did not attend any committee meeting, compelling the university to base its decision on the issue on data provided by the Graduate Research and Management Council (GRMC), which suggested that the university’s arts faculty was supervising more students than the HEC prescribed limit.
Following strong opposition from staff members on the grounds that the committee had counted students that enrolled but did not continue their degrees, a new committee comprising Admin Director Prof Muhammad Zahid, the aforementioned Dr Zia and Prof Ghulam Rasool from the Economics Department was formed to look into the matter, Aziz told The Express Tribune. This committee, in its only meeting so far, agreed to scrutinise data to find out the number of active and inactive postgraduate students at the university, he said.
This process, however, began after seven months of the prospective new students had gone to waste, putting a question mark on whether the university will be able to commence MPhil and PhD programmes in the first semester of the current academic year.
According to sources, available data suggests that 565 of the 1,022 students currently enrolled in MPhil and PhD programmes in the Karachi campus and 143 out of 620 students in the Islamabad campus are inactive and have missed the deadline for turning in their dissertations.
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Aziz said the university’s vice-chancellor accepted negligence on the university authorities’ part, particularly the admissions director, after the arts campus teachers recorded their protest on this issue. “We complained before the vice-chancellor that because of the university administration’s prejudiced attitude towards the art campus, a year of the social sciences students will go to waste,” he said.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, FUUAST Vice-Chancellor Altaf Hussain admitted that the university authorities made a mistake by announcing postgraduate and doctoral admission without devising a comprehensive policy and acknowledged that it had complicated matters.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2019.
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