- QAU pressing colleges to bring fee at par with university
ISLAMABAD: Owing to the alleged stubbornness of the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) and Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) ill-conceived moves, there are rising apprehensions that Islamabad postgraduate model colleges might be converted into intermediate institutes, which could deprive a large number of poor students studying in these institutes of getting a higher education.
The HEC developed comprehensive guidelines for bridging two year BA and BSc degree programmes with the four year BS semester-based programme back in 2013, and issued directives to phase out the two-year conventional BA/BSc (annual system) programmes with last admissions allowed in 2018, and to adopt the BS (four-year semester system) programme in all universities and degree awarding institutes (DAI).
Sources told Pakistan Today that the QAU was not ready to grant affiliation to the Islamabad postgraduate model colleges mainly due to the issue of fee structure. Therefore, the colleges wouldn’t be able to admit students in four-year bachelor programme this year.
They said that the QAU was delaying the affiliation on various lame excuses for the last three years despite fulfilling all modalities and procedures demanded by the university administration.
The sources further said that the university pressed the colleges to bring the fee structure at par with the university. However, they asked how the fee at colleges could be brought to Rs80,000 from Rs20,000.
They went on to say that the issue could be solved if the government upgraded the Islamabad Model College for Girls F-7/2 into the university as promised some three years ago, adding that they wouldn’t need to beg QAU for affiliation.
“It is quite surprising that BSc programme has been started in four provinces along with Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) but not in the federal capital,” they added.
After the 18th amendment, the federal capital colleges could not be affiliated with provincial universities, hence it was mandatory for them to be affiliated with the QAU.
There are at least 15 postgraduate colleges in the federal capital. However, if the QAU did not affiliate these educational institutes, they would automatically be converted to intermediate institutions, causing great loss to the poor who cannot afford to enrol their children in expensive private institutions.
A senior official told Pakistan Today that the QAU in its 119th academic council meeting, held in August 2017, accepted to give affiliation to these colleges, but all of a sudden, the university backtracked from its promise in its 120th academic council meeting.
The official said that various round of talks with university administration was held but in vain.
When contacted, HEC Media Director Aayesha Ikram said that in order to standardise the system of education at undergraduate and graduate levels in Pakistan, a well thought out process began in 2009 when HEC started developing qualification framework for higher education to make it at par with international standards.
She said that the framework was widely shared with all stakeholders in printed form as well as on HEC’s website. Onwards in 2013, comprehensive guidelines for bridging the two-year BA and BSc degree programmes with the four years BS semester-based programme were developed and forwarded to all universities and DAIs accordingly. Afterwards, HEC issued the directives to phase out the two-year conventional BA/BSc programmes with last admissions allowed in 2018 and to adopt the four-year BS programme in all universities and DAIs of Pakistan.
“HEC has already started conducting numerous workshops throughout the country regarding the uniform examination system and semester guidelines for smooth implementation of undergraduate programmes,” she added.
Aayesha said that last year, these workshops were conducted in Islamabad, Punjab, KP, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. During the current year, six workshops were planned including one in Islamabad in March 2018.
Besides that, several capacity building programmes for the university administrators i.e. directors, deans, registrars etc. were conducted under modern university governance programme organised by learning and innovation division of HEC.
Talking to Pakistan Today, QAU Registrar Dr Imtiaz said that the university could not be blamed for the delay of granting affiliation to these institutions, rather the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) was responsible in this regard.
He said that the university could not deny affiliation to colleges in Islamabad because it was the president’s order. But the colleges were asked, he added, to follow the required procedures such as the approval of the board of study, and the board of course, along with the fee structure, for which these institutes have yet to come up with a satisfactory plan.
Imtiaz said that the SOPs were sent to the colleges long ago but no response was received from these educational institutes hitherto. However, he said that they were hopeful of making some headway in this regard as academic council meeting was scheduled for April.
To a question about fee structure, he said that it was an issue as the university couldn’t allow the colleges to charge merely Rs15,000 while the university was charging students over Rs50,000. He, however, added that the matter could be resolved through negotiation.
When contacted, FDE Administration and Coordination Director Dr Tariq Masood said that a committee of professors had been formed to deal with the issue. He added that the QAU could award degrees only in the registered programmes, hence some issues surfaced because all the programmes offered in these colleges were not offered in the university as these institutes were earlier affiliated with Punjab University.
In this regard, he said that various meetings were held with QAU and he hoped for the issue to be sorted out.
He further said that they took up the fee structure issue before the QAU’s academic council meeting because the fee of colleges could not be brought at par with the university.