Karachi University (KU), after consultation with its legal team, is mulling the conversion of all 16-year master’s programmes into 16-year bachelor’s programmes. The implication was made in a report issued by a committee formed by the university’s academic council, following the Higher Education Commission’s decision to terminate two-year degree programmes.
The legal team, which was headed by Supreme Court lawyer Shoaib M Ashraf, presented its opinions to a five-member committee which was headed by Professor Jamil Kazmi, and included Professors Anila Akbar Malik, Nasiruddin Khan, Zaheer Qasmi and Naeem Khalid.
Per the Ashraf-led team, Higher Education Commission (HEC) will deny recognising degrees, if KU continued its two-year degree programmes despite termination of the same by HEC. “The concerned authority [HEC] has legal authority to do so under its act,” the team clarified.
In addition to that, the legal team also maintained that Karachi University (KU) is not in the position to challenge the relevant court’s decision to replace two-year graduations with four-year degree programmes in colleges. KU won’t even be able to file a constitutional petition in the top courts, the team opined.
In light of the legal advice, the committee has submitted a report to the university’s registrar office. Which, per sources close to KU Registrar Waheed Baloch, was signed by all members and college representatives and suggested converting all 16-year master’s programmes into 16-year bachelor’s programmes. The decision will come into effect upon approval of the affiliation committee in degree colleges.
The report further said that Karachi University should start a two-year associate degree programme in selected fields and affiliated colleges for new students, as an alternative option. However, this is only possible with the provision of the ‘human and capital resources’ by the government and the Higher Education Commission, the report stated.
In this regard, students should be persuaded and encouraged to enroll in the four-year degree programmes. While students who have completed the two-year associate degree from colleges should be admitted to the university with the completion of deficiency courses in the relevant field.
The report also said that departments should start separate discipline colleges for two-year associate degree programmes in consideration of market needs, which should also be approved by the statuary bodies.
The committee is of the view that the existing two-year traditional degree programmes should be continued parallel to the associate degree. According to report, teachers of the colleges are however, divided on the issue and have two different views.
Some college representatives are in favor of a four-year Bachelors of Studies (BS) programme, but want it to be applied in a few colleges on an experimental basis, while some college representatives advocate continuation of the traditional two-year graduation.
Students on the other hand, appear to be more concerned about the recognition of their degree by the HEC, rather than the span of their programme. “I have been sitting at home, waiting for admission into college since last year. I do not care if graduation is in two years or in four years, I just want the admissions to be announced as soon as possible,” she expressed.
Similarly, another student Akmal, also speaking on behalf of his friends and fellows, said that students primarily want their degree to be recognised on every forum. “We also want the same facilities that are provided to students in universities, for students studying in colleges. After all, we are also paying a fee for our education,” he demanded.
Speaking to The Express Tribune KU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Khalid Iraqi maintained that Karachi University and colleges have the capacity to move from annual examinations to the semester system, which is mandatory for associate degrees. “The semester cell of Karachi University already compiles the examination results of 52 departments and 17 research institutes. So if the Academic Council decides to do so, the associate degree can initially start with the annual examination system.”
The vice chancellor further expressed that the affiliation committee of Karachi University has given affiliation to degree colleges for two-year graduation. But if 16-year master’s programmes are to be converted into 16-year bachelor’s programmes; a new affiliation process will have to take place, the VC informed. In such a case, he said, the colleges will need affiliation with a two-year associate degree and a four-year graduation programme, for which the affiliation committee will once again review the academic and physical infrastructure of the colleges. “However, it all depends on the decision of the Academic Council, a meeting of which I’m convening this week,” Dr Iraqi told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2021.