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Punjab University (PU) Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad has reiterated his resolve to take Punjab University in the league of top 400 universities of the world, saying the upcoming QS Ranking of top universities will see PU gain significant ground in terms of its global stature. Addressing the 128th PU Convocation at Faisal Auditorium, the VC said the varsity administration was working round the clock to implement its vision of progress, and merit, transparency and good governance had been made the foundations of each decision.

HED asks PHEC to propose interview panel for another seven soon-to-fall-vacant VCs’ seats

 

The Punjab government has finally decided to appoint vice chancellors (VC) at three of the seven vacant posts in public universities where a permanent head of the institution was due for appointment. Following a tedious selection process that continued in fits and starts, the powers that be have finalised the names of VCs for University of Okara, University of Sahiwal and Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan.

During one of his numerous bus journeys back home while being a student at NUST, one of our team members sat next sat to 15-year-old boy named Ahmed. The boy hardly stopped talking during the journey, explaining everything from why the sky was blue, why witches wore pointy hats and how JRR Tolkien got inspired to write The Hobbit. His passionate explanation, our colleague related, gave away his love for the fantasy world as well as reading, which was exactly what Ahmed said he wanted to explore further as a career.

Until about two to three decades ago, educational units – schools, colleges and universities – working under the public sector played an efficient role in providing quality education with nominal government fees. But over the years, materialism, lack of long-term policies, political interference and sectionalism have become part and parcel of public education departments and literally deteriorated the entire fabric of the Higher Education sector in Pakistan.

Private institutes and evening tuition academies did step in to fill the gap that emerged for providing quality education, but they only ended up further damaging the sector following a decadent indulgence in a mad race of making money. An increasingly expensive private sector has potentially taken control of the educational sector, right from elementary to higher education levels, in Pakistan. As a consequence, a wide majority of people cannot endure educational expenditure incurred at private schools and universities. Education is the basic right of every citizen living in any country and this right is provided amicably by all developed countries on a priority basis. But in Pakistan, consumers of educational services – parents and students – have been left with little choice or idea when it comes to seeking quality education.

Foresight, Or Lack of It

Speaking particularly about Punjab, former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif promoted terrible “sectionalism” in the sector. Instead of ameliorating the efficiency of all schools and colleges, he somehow – apparently for political mileage and self-projection – selectively introduced the culture of “Danish schools”, “model colleges” and even “model police stations”. These special outlets only resulted in further affecting the performance of other schools, colleges and police stations that did not bear the special credentials of being a ‘model’.

Shahbaz Sharif promoted terrible “sectionalism” in the sector. Instead of ameliorating the efficiency of all schools and colleges, he somehow – apparently for political mileage and self-projection – selectively introduced the culture of “Danish schools”, “model colleges” and even “model police stations”.

While ignoring a majority of schools and colleges, these special institutions were given the blue-eyed treatment with additional grants and perks, all for short-term, political objectives. The institutional discrimination not only disappointed staff, but also caused a drop in enrolments of students in institutes that did not bear the title ‘Danish’ or ‘model’. To add fuel to the fire of education woes that are burning bright, formation and execution of educational policies has for long been entrusted to civil servants who have no expertise, training or experience in education and its allied services.

Who’s In Charge?

At the university level, the plight of higher education in Pakistan has been made worse by a shambolic division of power between various quality-controlling bodies at the federal and provincial level. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan has turned into a degree attestation department ever since Dr Atta Ur Rahman resigned as the commission chairman in 2008.

Thereafter, the 18th Amendment in the constitution was promulgated, making federating units responsible for education. However there has never been a clear roadmap of how the jurisdictions would materialize. Now provincial and federal higher education regulatory commissions work in parallel, with no clear demarcation of either’s authoritative boundary.

Funnily enough, only Punjab and Sindh have separate provincial set up of HEC, while KPK and Balochistan are still working under the federal HEC. This polarization has seriously damaged the repute, credibility and efficiency of HEC, something that needs to be addressed urgently.

Regretful Research

If we consider scientific research at many a public and private universities, the endeavor has merely become a source of grabbing funds from related government institutes and sister organizations such as Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF). Ongoing research in many subjects is far from practical utility and implications, and fails to address or attempt to address the real challenges faced by the country. The true spirit of scientific work for real implementation is lost.

Ongoing research in many subjects is far from practical utility and implications, and fails to address or attempt to address the real challenges faced by the country

Instead, research has become a criterion of quick promotion to higher ranks in universities, irrespective of how and where faculty members and their research students publish their work. There are no black and white ethical guidelines and aptitude for publications in journals from institutes. The race for publication has made both students and professors blind to the value and credentials of publishers and journals; and whether they are of an acceptable repute. Such publication houses work on the basis of “open-access” policy for readers, therefore, they ask money from the authors to publish their work. And that is happily paid from the project funds approved by HEC or PSF.

Harassment, often sexual, of female students and staff at the hands of colleagues and research supervisors is now being extensively reported across the Pakistani academia. It has become a major challenge for university administrations to curb social crime. Although, the constitution provides protection against sexual harassment at work place, the implementation of laws remain a challenge.

The practice hiring and firing of faculty members in higher education institutions on Pakistan also raises concerns, as most recruitments are reportedly made out of the way and against so-called criteria of merit. Likewise, deans and vice chancellors at universities are mostly appointed on the basis of recommendation, cosmetic value and political influence. Retired professors continue getting unnecessary extensions, impeding the way of young and energetic faculty members.

Unless administrative officials and faculty at universities in Pakistan is selected purely on the basis of capability of individuals in terms of leadership, management and specialization in respective areas, we cannot compete with the world in science and technology, or any discipline for that matter. Similarly, the HEC is essentially required to enhance its working domain with better planning and executional capacity.

Education is the only way through which the fate of nations can be turned around. And to achieve that turnaround, we must do what is needed. Uphold merit.

Author bio KHOSA MARK

The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine

8 Profitable Side Hustles in Pakistan for Students

If you do what average people do, you’ll get what average people get. Regardless of which field you fall into, having a side hustle is vital for your personal and career development. A ‘side hustle’ refers to any job you’re employed at outside of your full-time job that has an avenue to make some extra money for you. Side hustles help you to build up your skills and diversify your income. So if you are a student looking for extra cash in your pocket, here are the eight fruitful areas you can check out without affecting your studies.

Teaching Online

If you have skills in a certain field and think that you have expertise in teaching those skills, then the easiest way to earning some extra cash is by teaching online. There are multiple websites like Udemy and Teachable where you can teach and earn money by only dedicating a few hours each day.

Fiverr

Students that are good at something or are skilled in performing various tasks must check out Fiverr. It is one of the easiest places to offer small services like graphic designing, writing and translation, video making and coding etc. It is the best place for micro-level freelancers, as it’s one of the largest marketplaces with a vast range of services you can offer. All you have to do is be responsive and satisfy clients with your services.

Affiliate Marketing

The trend of affiliate marketing is fast taking roots in Pakistan and happens to be one of the easiest modes of marketing for both the companies pushing their products and marketers engaged in the promotion. All an affiliate really does is promote a company’s product in his or her circle of influence and earn a commission from increased sales. Simple. So look out for affiliate marketing opportunities and get your commission going.

YouTube Channel Hosting

If you are creative and have a knack of gauging what people like, you can delve into the world of YouTube and begin making interesting vlogs, videos or tutorials. Not only do you stand a chance to earn some extra cash, you could well turn this side hustle into a full time career if you can capture the imagination and interest of viewers like thousands of other YouTube stars and celebrities. YouTube pays out a generous compensation for your work with their revenue sharing programme.

Travelling Club

If you are interested in travel and know how to survive the outdoors, you have another opportunity waiting to be exploited. You can keep yourself updated about the costs, rates of services, discounts and facilities regarding travelling to key tourist destinations across the country and then plan organized tours for others who lack your insights. You may be surprised that despite a lot of existing travel and adventure companies and clubs, the demand for quality services in the field is on the rise. All you have to really do is plan comfortable itineraries and point travelers towards the best facilities to ensure five star reviews and repeat interaction from satisfied customers.

Read more: General knowledge questions for Sociology students

Driving

Of course. If you have free time during the morning, evening, night or even on weekends; and a car to spare, you can well become a part time driver. Taxi and bike hailing apps like Uber, Careem and Bikea are doing wonders for commuters as well as the drivers and are getting ever more popular. To be fair, there are examples where people actually quit their full-time jobs to earn through these services. Even if you do not have a car but know how to drive, you can work in shifts for a car owner against a salary. Point of information: the demand for both drivers and cars vehicles for such services is going through the roof by the day.

JustAnswer

Websites like JustAnswer pay you to answer professional queries. If you’ve got a high-level skill such as in the law, medicine, or IT, you can get paid to assist others in certain topics or areas of contention they might have faced.

Social Media Manager

There is a large number of small businesses who need a social media manager because they do not have the time or the expertise to be constantly posting on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter. Take it upon yourself to contact local businesses and offer up your services for a contracted monthly fee. This is one of the most effective ways of making some extra cash no matter which field of study you are engaged in.

I hope you liked the Profitable Side Hustles in Pakistan for Students posts; It will help you make a better decision.

Hamza Saad

The views and opinions expressed in the article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views and policy of The Academia Magazine