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THE Government College University has this year made its debut in the world ranking of universities with Middle East Technical University, Turkey Informatics Centre, grading it at number 1,509 around the globe.

The varsity in the fields of mathematical sciences and chemical sciences has earned 709th and 948th positions in the world, respectively.

In mathematical sciences, the GCU has topped among all universities in the country, while in chemical sciences it has been ranked second after the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Overall, the university has been ranked 10th top university in Pakistan, with LUMS at number 1,845.

The top four universities in the country are Quaid-i-Azam University, COMSATS, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, and the Punjab University, respectively. While, GCU Faisalabad, University of Peshawar, University of Sargodha, Arid Agriculture University, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore; and LUMS follow the GCU Lahore.

The GCU also claims to have jumped from middle-size to large-size universities’ category with over 11,000 students, as per criteria of the Higher Education Commission. The commission is, however, yet to notify the university as a large-size university.

GCU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Khaleequr Rahman, during his stint since 2011, has enhanced research by increasing research papers in HEC recognised journals from 149 in 2011 to 227 in 2013-14. He hopes the number will touch 300 papers by the end of this fiscal.

The 56-acre land-locked campus has also seen expansion in terms of 30 classrooms, lecture theatres and offices that enabled the university to increase its students’ strength from 6,200 to 11,557 during the past four years. The students also got the opportunity to get admission to 27 new postgraduate programmes including PhDs in computer sciences, applied physics and Islamic Studies, M.Phil in applied physics, MS in industrial psychology, MSc physical education and other postgraduate academic programmes related to forensic sciences.

About the quality of research and its use in the development of the country, Prof Rahman says the university scientists have got three US patents (‘analytical grader salt’, ‘Nano Leucite for slow release nitrogen fertilizer and green environment’ and ‘zinc oxide nanoflakes for treatment of pollutants’) in the last two years, while five more have been processed. Different companies have offered to commercially start the production of nano-fertiliser invented by the university scientists, he adds.

About the vacant seats of professors in the university, Prof Rahman the varsity has more than 21 professors including nine regular professors. He says the university will be sending names for the appointment of two more faculties’ deans and admits that there is still no regular professor in the faculty of engineering. He says the university has 393 regular faculty members, including 21 associate professors and around 120 assistant professors. The faculty includes 130 PhDs. Meanwhile, some quarters in the varsity are pointing fingers at tailor-made advertisements to appoint certain faculty members as professors. In one case, the varsity has issued corrigendum and opened a fair competition.

Regretting that a majority of university staff were on contract when he joined in 2011, Prof Rahman says the varsity held a number of selection boards and recruited over 300 staff and faculty members on a permanent basis. Citing an example, the VC said that an instrumentalist had been working in GCU on a contract for the last 22 years. “Had he been inducted on a regular basis, he would have been retiring by now,” he added.

Prof Rahman, who raised more than 130 million donations from the Old Ravians for the university Endowment Fund Trust, is facing criticism for failing to get released funds from the government for the university’s Kala Shah Campus. He, however, expresses hope that the project approved by the federal government would soon be getting sanctioned amount of Rs65 million for the initial development.

THE Lahore University of Management Sciences and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish the Afghanistan Scholarship Programme (ASP), which was announced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during his visit to Islamabad in November last.

LUMS Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Sohail Naqvi and Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Janan Mosazai signed the MoU this weekend.

The ASP is an exclusive merit scholarship for talented Afghan students to study at LUMS in its graduate and undergraduate programmes. “The arrival of Afghan students under the ASP in Punjab will create a new people-to-people link between the two countries, strengthening the existing solid bonds of brotherhood and friendship between the two countries,” Ambassador Mosazai said.

Prof Naqvi said LUMS was ready to welcome the first batch of students from Afghanistan from the academic year 2015-16.

The Afghanistan government has allocated an initial fund of US$ one million for this programme, which will be complemented by an additional amount of US$ two million announced by the Pakistan government.

PROF Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice-Chancellor of University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, has been assigned additional charge of VC office of Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture (MNSUA), Multan.

A Punjab government notification says the Governor/ Chancellor of MNSUA has allowed Prof Khan to perform the duties of MNSUA’s VC office till the selection of a regular vice-chancellor. –

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2015

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