KARACHI: The University of Karachi is set to hold an important meeting of its Academic Council on Thursday (today) on the two-year associate degree programme proposed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Sources said the council meeting on a single-point agenda would discuss recommendations prepared by its five-member committee tasked to look into the viability of HEC’s proposed programme and make a policy document.
They said since teachers’ majority on the campus believed that the programme was ill-conceived, it’s unlikely that the council would take any decision against this dominant view or go against the HEC, which is the major funding source of public sector universities.
“Yes, we wouldn’t go against HEC. The task given to the committee is to [see] how it can be implemented and now it’s up to the members to decide the matter,” KU Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid M. Iraqi told Dawn. “The consensus that emerged in a recent vice chancellors’ meeting held by HEC was to defer programme’s implementation for a year during which the VCs committee would deliberate on its phase-wise implementation.”
Universities may lose a major source of income after implementation of HEC-proposed four-year degree plan
The HEC was yet to take its decision on the matter, he added.
Currently, he pointed out, the majority of KU departments were running the old bachelors’ and masters’ programme while some had the HEC’s proposed four-year BS programme.
He was of the opinion that the commission wouldn’t have held two consultations with vice chancellors if it were convinced about the programme, which in the West was meant only for vocational education.
Asked about HEC’s clarification a day earlier, he said: “It carries a contradiction. On the one hand, it says that four-year undergraduate and two-year associate programmes haven’t been deferred. But, on the other hand, it says that the recommendation for deferring implementation of both these programmes until fall 2022 would be placed before HEC’s governing body for consideration.”
The HEC a day before had rejected as misleading and incorrect the media reports suggesting deferment of these programmes.
“Both the programmes are intact and shall continue as earlier. The enforcement of the policy prescribed in the HEC’s notification dated July 11, 2019, regarding “Transition from BA/BSc Programme to Associate Degree Programmes: Phasing out of MA/MSc Programmes” shall continue in letter and spirit,” the HEC statement said.
The clarification has come against the backdrop of a recent meeting of all vice chancellors jointly chaired by HEC executive director Dr Shaista Sohail and Prof Dr Muhammad Ali, chair of the VC committee meeting and Vice Chancellor, Quaid-i-Azam University.
Final decision likely later this month
“A committee of vice chancellors would meet in the fourth week of July 2021 for three days to debate issues and come up with practicable solutions. The summary based on the recommendations of the vice chancellors would be taken to the commission highlighting the factual position and requesting for allowing proposed amendments to facilitate implementation of the two policies,” the statement said.
The universities willing to adopt or have already adopted undergraduate education policy and/or policy for PhD programmes may continue with its implementation diligently, it added.
Sources said VCs of several universities and teachers were opposing the associate degree programme on the ground that it would eliminate undergraduate programmes at universities and also deprive students of middle and lower classes of the option to pursue a degree programme privately.
Also, they believed, universities would lose a major source of income that they currently generate through the old programme.
The majority of colleges, they argued, did not have the infrastructure and teaching capacity to run the four-year undergraduate programme.
Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021