The Karachi University Pakistan has decided to replace handwritten degrees with computerized documents from now onwards. 

Karachi University holds the unique legacy of awarding degrees composed by calligraphers in Urdu. It is the only institute to do so in Pakistan. Instead of typewriters, professional calligraphers are hired to compose the degrees of students from all programs. The prestigious university was founded in 1951 and it has been around seventy years that the degrees were awarded in the handwritten format. However, the demand of time has made it to take this hard decision and bring an end to this unique legacy.

In a recent meeting at Karachi University, it was established that the decision has to be implemented as soon as possible. Apparently, the Ph.D. degrees and the degrees of other professional courses will be continued in the same old format. This means that the bachelor’s and master’s students receiving their degrees in the future will not be able to be a part of this artistic tradition.

The reason why the university has taken this decision is an increasing number of students. It is hard to write all the degrees when you have to provide over 300 degrees in a day. KU hires calligraphers who write this beautiful text with fountain pens and cut-nib pens dipping them in the inkwell. It is indeed an art but it takes time that students don’t want to wait for. Moreover, it is also the demand of the Higher education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) to produce computerized copies.

According to some sources, the university is also taking this decision because there are not a lot of qualified calligraphers in the country. The university’s degrees are printed in both English and Urdu with English text being printed and Urdu being written. However, with this new decision, the university has ordered the hiring of Urdu composers who can write using computer software. 

Some call it the end of an era and some say it the end of a splendid legacy. Controller Examination KU also presented his view against this new practice while talking to a media house. ‘I am also against computerized degrees because calligraphy makes KU’s degrees unique,’ said Dr. Syed Zafar Hussain. However, he explained that they receive around 500 applications for degree issuance in a day. He said that many students apply for urgent degrees that take a time period of one month and some for most-urgent degrees with a period of two weeks whereas, the normal period is of three months. In a situation like this, it becomes difficult to facilitate everyone with a limited workforce.

Talking about the lack of skilled calligraphers Dr. Zafar said, ‘we have been looking for qualified calligraphers for the past many years but no one has been able to meet the criteria. Therefore, continuing issuing degrees in the same format is difficult for the examination department.’ Thus, considering the increasing influx of students, the need of time, and the lack of competent calligraphers, discontinuing the traditional manner of issuing degrees sounds like the most suitable decision for Karachi University.

Author

Ayesha Areej is a staff writer at The Academia Magazine

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