Students gather for an event at Karachi University.—White Star
Students gather for an event at Karachi University.—White Star

KARACHI: The decision of Karachi University to double the number of its admissions without upgrading its facilities and faculty is creating a lot of problems for both teachers and students, it emerged on Wednesday.

According to a KU press statement released to the media on Dec 11 last year, which was carried by several newspapers, a total of 9,534 admissions were granted for 2020 in the morning bachelors and masters programmes. Last year, however, some 4,700 students were given admissions.

In the evening programme, the number of admissions has been raised from 2,000 of last year to 3,500 this year.

Speaking to Dawn, a number of teachers expressed serious concern over the higher admissions as opposed to limited institutional capacity and said the decision defied principles of merit and logic.

“The current university facilities are already insufficient to meet the growing academic needs and I believe this step would greatly compromise quality of education,” said Vice President of the Karachi University Teachers’ Society (Kuts) Prof S.M. Taha. He contended that the issue of higher student enrolment affected some departments.

‘Almost everyone who applied was given admission’

When asked whether Kuts had raised this issue with the vice chancellor, he said: “There has been no meeting of the academic council after the admissions. The society representatives will raise it at all forums.”

Sources said the departments where higher admissions had been done included computer science, pharmacy, Islamic learning, physiology, business administration, international relations, biochemistry, criminology and economics.

Whereas other departments where admissions had been kept within the past allotted seats faced a chaos-like situation when a large number of students reported there to take their subsidiary subjects.

“Unlike last year, the number of students’ seats for the evening programme was not restricted and almost everyone who applied was given admission,” said a teacher on condition of anonymity.

Teachers said higher students’ enrolment would have a direct bearing on the limited institutional infrastructure, which included laboratories, classrooms and furniture.

“The lab contingency grant of the university is already too low that greatly compromises academic standards as we can’t allow all students at one time to perform experiments,” said a teacher, questioning how departments in the faculty of science would meet needs of the higher number of students.

Some teachers also questioned that how the university — facing water and electricity outages and sewerage and sanitation issues — would handle so many students.

‘A coaching centre’

The department chairpersons Dawn spoke to said that they were not on board on this decision which they described as turning a higher education institution into a coaching centre.

Upon contact, acting Vice Chancellor of KU Prof Khalid Mahmood Iraqi argued that admissions being granted over the past few years “were much less as opposed to the university’s capacity”.

“We haven’t given a higher number of admissions. The university has the space, infrastructure and the faculty to induct this many students,” he said.

According to him, the university has 7,800 seats and gave 7,720 admissions this year.

“That press release was wrong [there was no denial to the university press statement published by several papers in December last year],” he said, adding that admissions had been given in consultation with the deans.

“We have provided them furniture as well as carried out renovation of classrooms. Some new blocks have also been added,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020