KARACHI: The vice chancellor of Karachi University at the annual convocation held on the campus on Saturday sought help from the government as well as its alumni to address an acute financial crisis affecting the institution.
The silver jubilee convocation of the KU, which was held despite a tense situation in the city following the Shikarpur tragedy, was attended by thousands of students, their parents and teachers.
Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, who is the chancellor of all public sector universities in the province, could not make it to the event as in the past many years.
Senior Sindh minister Nisar Khuhro, who is the Pro Chancellor of the universities, was the chief guest.
Around 1,598 students received their graduate, masters, MPhil and PhD degrees at the ceremony, whereas gold medals were awarded to 137 students.
The total number of students of the 2013 batch was 4,965.
“It’s indeed an honour for me to be here at the silver jubilee convocation of my alma mater, though I always felt bad for missing the convocation of my academic career,” said Mr Khuhro in his address to the gathering.
137 students awarded gold medals at KU annual convocation
He also appreciated the spirit of the KU administration for holding the ceremony and said: “Extremists are bent upon destroying our peace, security and happiness. We can foil their designs only by education and more education.”
Mr Khuhro regretted that the KU with about 31,000 students received a mere Rs1.5 billion grant while other universities with similar number of students were getting Rs1.9bn grant each.
He said that this discrimination should end.
He announced that he would request the chancellor to give one-month extra salary to university employees between grade one and 16.
Congratulating students, Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Qaiser said that the convocation was an important event not only for students and the faculty but also for those who were responsible to look after the institutions of higher learning as it provided an opportunity to the university administration to share the developments in the university and seek guidance to achieve laurels.
Highlighting KU’s achievements, he said that 13 memoranda of understanding had been signed between the university and foreign institutions and 21 national and international conferences and workshops were held last year.
The Higher Education Commission, he said, had ranked the university on second number among all public sector general universities in the country.
On the university’s financial crisis, he said: “One of the unresolved problems the university faces is its acute financial crisis. We are utilising all our resources and making efforts to mobilise our alumni for financial support. Former students should come forward and associate themselves with their alma mater in its development and progress.”
He urged the government to help the university that intended to build centres of excellence in pure and social sciences in the areas of environment and health sciences, social sciences, law/jurisprudence and business management.
“Our priority areas include construction of a teaching hospital, technological park, technology incubation centre, waste water treatment plant and distance learning/online education programme in collaboration with foreign universities,” he said.
Speaking to Dawn, students expressed gratitude to their parents and teachers who helped them achieve a major milestone in their life and hoped that they would be able to serve their country to the best of their ability.
“I am extremely happy today that one of my dreams has materialised. It wasn’t a smooth sailing though as I had went through a lot of troubles in my personal life during the study period,” said Sadia Zaheer, recipient of a gold medal in Pakistan Studies.
A mother of two children aged between eight and 10 years, Ms Zaheer was divorced when she started her masters’ education at KU. “I spent my first semester in Iddat but even then I got second position at that time,” she said.
Anum Naz, a gold medallist in BA (honours), said: “I left science field and got enrolled in the education department because I believe only education could help solve problems our country faces today. I will pursue my studies further and intend to play a role to improve status of teachers and teaching.”
Sitting in the same row, Mohammad Zaid Ahmed, who took first position in the BSc (hons) (applied physics), wanted further studies in electronics and was looking for a scholarship. “It’s sad that bright students neither get scholarships from the government nor are they offered financial support. I wish that this official attitude changes,” he said.
In response to questions regarding having any problems during the academic period, some students complained of lack of sufficient material for research, motivation among teachers as well as nepotism on the campus that, they said, discouraged good students.
“Teachers should be strict in marking, I would say. Teachers must not pass students who do not take their studies seriously. By doing so we are producing mediocre minds,” one of them said.
Published in Dawn February 1st, 2015