ISLAMABAD: Following the recommendations of a parliamentary panel, the administration of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has announced that the university will open from Thursday, even though there is little possibility that academic activities will resume since the university’s students have refused to call off their strike.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training met at Parliament House and took notice of the fact that the country’s highest ranked university had been closed for 15 days due to a students’ strike.

The committee recommended that QAU Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf ensure the university opens on Thursday.

After VC’s announcement that university will reopen, protesting students deflate tyres of all buses parked on campus

While briefing the committee, Dr Ashraf told its members that the administration had been unable to reopen the university because the district administration was not cooperating with the management.

“The students have blocked the roads and transport is not functional,” he said.

The district administration and police, in a meeting the other day, opposed the use of force against the protesting students and said the issue between the students and the university administration should be resolved through dialogue.

After attending the standing committee meeting, Dr Ashraf announced that the university would open.

The students, however, deflated the tyres of all the buses parking on the university campus on Wednesday night, minimising the chances that educational activities would be restored.

Dr Ashraf told Dawn: “We have announced the opening of the university, but the protesters deflated bus tyres. We are still looking for help from the district administration to properly resume classes from Thursday – let’s see.”

QUA students have been protesting against the university administration for the fulfilment of 14 demands that include the restoration of students expelled for their involvement in a fight that took place on campus in May, the withdrawal of a university notification raising fees by 10pc, the provision of bus facilities to all students and the construction of new hostels.

“As far as the restoration of the students, I cannot restore students as this matter is not in my domain. Rather, the university syndicate will hear this issue in Friday’s meeting. We cannot reverse the decision of the fee increase, because we increased the fee by 10pc as per the rules after two years,” Dr Ashraf said.

He said that other than these two demands, the university is ready to fulfil almost all the demands raised by the students.

Earlier on Wednesday, the standing committee also hinted to the vice chancellor that it could recommend his resignation if he failed to reopen the university in a day or two.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed told the committee that the vice chancellor and the university administration lacked leadership qualities, as the university was being held hostage by a few dozen protesting students.

Dr Ahmed said the closure of the university was affecting new students, and could lead to the cancellation of the semester if classes do not resume in time.

The committee also asked the vice chancellor to address the students’ justifiable demands and take serious action against those involved in serious criminal activity.

The committee also recommended that the local administration cooperate with the university to provide security cover against students creating trouble and maintain the law and order situation on campus.

Corruption at Federal Urdu University

Briefing the standing committee on problems facing the Federal Urdu University, a Ministry of Federal Education official said an inquiry committee constituted to look into allegations levelled against the university’s current vice chancellor Prof Dr Zafar Iqbal had determined that all 29 allegations were accurate.

He said Dr Iqbal refused to appear before the university senate despite being served several notices. However, committee chairman MNA retired Col Amirullah Marwat expressed concerns about the report’s findings, but directed that the accused be given a fair chance.

Committee member MNA Zulfiqar Bhatti objected to any relaxation or favours to the vice chancellor, saying serious charges – including maladministration and embezzlement – had been proven in the inquiry report.

The vice chancellor responded by alleging that Mr Bhatti was corrupt, who in turn said he would file a privilege motion against the vice chancellor.

HEC Chairman Dr Ahmed told the committee that massive corruption had taken place at the Federal Urdu University.

He said the university received Rs80 million from the HEC to build a campus in Islamabad, but invested half in a security company and half in a private bank.

Before concluding its meeting, the committee directed the vice chancellor to attend the upcoming meeting of the university senate to face the corruption charges.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2017

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