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KARACHI: Some 405 graduates received their degrees at the 51st convocation of the Foundation for Advancement of Science & Technology (FAST) National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences here on Saturday.

Of the total, 367 received their bachelor’s degrees as 37 got the master’s and one was honoured with a PhD in computer science.

During her welcome address, Dr Hasina Khatoon, director of FAST National University’s Karachi campus, pointed out a frustrating problem keeping the academic institute from expanding in Karachi. “The university is built on six acres of land, which is not enough so the government awarded us with six acres of additional land right across. But the land has been encroached on and vacating it is not possible for us,” she said.

“It has kept us from adding more departments and labs. We have also had to build on our playground due to shortage of land,” she said. “And we still don’t have a hostel here for students coming to study from other parts of Sindh because of which many students after getting admission do not attend classes as they have nowhere to stay,” the director said.

She urged Sindh Minister for Education and Literacy Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar, the chief guest at the convocation, to help her. “If the land across cannot by vacated, I suggest the land situated right next to us, which also happens to be six acres in size, be allotted to us so that we can expand our university there,” she suggested.

Dr Mohammad Ayub Alvi, rector of the university, after congratulating the graduating students and their parents and thanking the teachers for their hard work arrived at the same issue. He also informed the education minister that many of their students got off the buses across the road and then it was very dangerous for them to cross the National Highway to come to the university. “We would greatly benefit from a pedestrian bridge here,” he said.

Mr Dahar said he would do everything in his power to resolve the issue. “I commit to try my best to resolve this encroachment issue,” he said.

Airing his pleasure to be gracing the 51st convocation on the university’s Karachi campus, the minister said that realising the importance of education, the Education Department of Sindh had been making continuous efforts for improvement there. “The education budget has been increased and appointment of teachers is being done on merit while the students too are being tested regularly to gauge their progress,” he said.

“So far we have managed to bring down the number of children out of school from 7.3 million to 6.5 million,” he said.

“Higher education has a huge impact on the development of a country. Investment in higher education is investment in human capital,” he said.

To the graduating students, he said: “You have the responsibility of working for the technology industry in your country. Hard work, knowledge and determination are three pillars of strength. Prepare to unlearn and relearn at every step of your life,” he said.

The FAST National University has five established campuses located in Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The university offers bachelors, masters and PhD programmes in various disciplines, including business administration, civil and electrical engineering, computer science and mathematical sciences.

Its programmes are accredited by the Pakistan Engineering Council and the National Computing Education Accreditation Council. The university has more than 450 full-time faculty members of whom 118 hold PhD degrees.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2017