More than 80 state-run colleges affiliated with the University of Karachi (KU) have yet to announce acceptance to their degree programs for the 2021 academic year due to a decision taken by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) in November last year, which fully enforces degree programs. associate who was introduced in 2011.
KU has not announced its policy on whether its affiliated colleges should offer admission to the traditional two-year degree program that has been canceled by HEC or a two-year associate degree program approved by the commission.
Due to this uncertainty, the fate of thousands of students hangs in the balance. Also no college offers admission to an HEC approved associate program nor can it continue with a traditional BA and BSc or a four-year BS.
“The majority of universities do not have the capacity to initiate a four-year undergraduate program, while the Academic Council of Karachi University held two consecutive meetings held in 2017 against phasing out the two-year bachelor’s and master’s program. On the one hand, HEC has informed students that the two-year degree will not be verified but on the other hand, an affiliated body [KU] not ready to accept the HEC policy, ”said Munir Alam Khan, a senior member of the Sindh Time-Scale Association of Professors and Lecturers (TSSPLA).
He called for initiating the admission process at a public college in Karachi according to a two-year degree program approved by the KU Academic Council. He said that due to the slow admissions process in 2021, a large number of students would turn to private universities and that would, in practical terms, downgrade college degrees to secondary colleges.
The notification, issued on 17 November 2020, by HEC reads that the commission has removed the program two years after the 2018 academic year and then 2019.
HEC expressed concern in the notification that the two-year program is still being offered by degree-granting universities and institutes, as well as colleges with which they are affiliated.
“In this regard, universities are directed not to offer admission to two years of BA, BSc programs and that the degree will not be recognized by HEC for students enrolled in the program after December 2018,” read the notice. The commission also posted a message on its official website, warning students not to enter into a two-year degree program.
However, HEC has also clarified that colleges can start a two-year associate degree program that was introduced in 2011.
As per the official HEC statement, the decision to abolish the two-year degree program was taken in 2004 with the aim of improving the quality of the degree program to international standards. However, the commission gave the university a transition period until 2016 to phase out the program.
The two-year associate degree program permitted by HEC is a substitute for bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BSC) degree programs and is equivalent to 14 years of education. Upon completion of the associate degree program, graduates can gain acceptance into the fifth semester of the 4-year BS program.
Responding to this, Munir said that TSSPLA did not side with the D3 degree program because an D3 degree was no more than a certificate or diploma. If those with associate degrees want to apply for government or private sector jobs, they probably won’t be considered for jobs, he said.
He said the HEC decision would have a long-term effect on the education system because it would promote a classroom system in education. He added that since public universities do not have the capacity to offer 4-year BS programs and government-run universities have limited seats, the HEC decision will create two classes in society because those who can afford millions will get tertiary education in private institutions and others will . left with only an intermediate certificate.
The decision shows that the government intends to get rid of the education sector and turn education into a money-producing industry, said Munir.
TSSPLA chairman Prof. Muhammad Zafar Yar Khan agreed with Munir. “When HEC discontinued its two-year degree program and formulated a four-year degree program, none of the decision-makers thought that students who could not afford the huge fees would come out,” Zafar said, adding that thousands of students from working-class families would say goodbye to education as a result of the HEC policy.
Regarding the termination of the two-year undergraduate program, the minutes of the KU Academic Council meeting stated that affiliated tertiary institutions were formed to share the burden of the university. “Removing college-level undergraduate and master’s programs would mean that students would be forced to travel unnecessary long distances and would put higher education further out of reach of the lower middle class in Karachi, especially for female students,” the document reads. .
“On the one hand, HEC forces universities to increase their income [its] own source, [and] on the other hand [hand]The implementation of this policy will reduce higher education income from its own sources. The university earns more than Rs650 million from affiliated colleges in different heads for conducting exams and overseeing BA, BSc and BCom programs. The university will lose this money if the university withdraws from the graduate program of the affiliated college ”.
The KU exam supervisor, who is responsible for conducting exams at the affiliated colleges, said, “The university has postponed the announcement of admissions to affiliated colleges for the 2021 academic year due to HEC’s new policy. However, the Academic Council will approve the new policy and after that, the admission date will be announced. “
On Friday, the university appointed Prof. Dr. Anila Ambar Malik as secretary of the affiliate committee to deal with the matter.
Give in gradually
Addressing a press conference on February 4, the adviser to the chief minister of Sindh at the university and council, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, called the abolition of the two-year degree program an attack on provincial autonomy. He announced that colleges and universities in Sindh would continue the two-year program under the University Law, 2018.
After Khuhro’s press conference, the provincial government mobilized the Sindh Higher Education Commission and its chairman Dr Asim Hussain approached HEC to address the problem.
However, instead of convincing HEC, Dr Asim appeared to be convinced by the commission as he later issued a statement saying he was not against the four-year degree program.
Also contrary to the stance of the Sindh government, Sindh University on Friday announced temporary admission to associate degree programs at its affiliated colleges.
The Sindh section of the Association of Private Sector Universities of Pakistan also welcomed HEC’s undergraduate policy in a statement.