KARACHI: The University of Karachi (KU) has revived the old open merit admission policy for its school of law after not a single student from Karachi succeeded in getting admission last year in the five-year LLB programme due to, what many believed, a flawed test-based method introduced a couple of years ago.

The university has recently announced its admission policy for the year 2024 and included its school of law in the list of open merit-based departments. The admissions process for these departments, including the school of law, will begin on Nov 26 on the basis of three categories: Karachi, Sindh and Pakistan, or K.S.P.

In this criteria, first priority is given to students holding domicile of Karachi. If seats are left vacant after that, students having domiciles of Sindh districts other than Karachi are given admission, and in case some seats are still left vacant, students belonging to other three provinces of the country are considered for admission.

In the test-based departments, candidates from all over the country are only required to clear an aptitude test, after which, admissions are granted to those who pass the test. Along with that, the percentage of their intermediate results is also taken into consideration.

Policy changed after no student of Karachi got admission in school of law last year

However, every student intending to take admission in the school of law is required to clear the Law Admission Test (LAT) which is organised by the Higher Education Commission .LAT requires that an applicant must score 50pc marks in the overall test to be eligible to apply in law institutes.

A source told Dawn that last year, not a single student having Karachi’s domicile managed to get admission in the law department of the varsity as the admissions were closed on over 90 per cent.

“Except for a few, students who pass intermediate exams in Karachi don’t get 90pc marks. However, students who pass intermediate exams from other boards in the province easily get more than 90pc marks. And when they apply for admission in the KU, they succeed despite merely passing the aptitude test with 50pc marks, leaving behind those Karachi students who score 70 or 80pc marks in the aptitude test,” he said.

“Seeing this, the academic council of KU decided that first priority should be given to the students of Karachi, which is why the admissions this year will be given on the open merit basis with K.S.P category,” he added.

A university lecturer, who wished not to be named, welcomed the decision as she believed that the students belonging to Karachi were being neglected and those from other parts of Sindh having over 90pc marks were getting admissions, but most of them did not even know how to write or speak English.

“It raises serious questions on the education system of other parts of Sindh. Until the standard of education is uplifted, this method is just and fair as the students having Karachi’s domicile were getting less marks on merit as compared to interior Sindh, but remained unable to secure admission in the university,” she said.

School of Law Dean retired Justice Hasan Feroz shared with Dawn that when the policy was being designed, the department’s Board of Faculty and Board of Studies proposed to the KU academic council that a test comprising written and viva parts must be taken for the admissions.

“I proposed that we must take a written test that consists of 80 marks and viva having 20pc marks. The students must score at least 50pc marks — 40pc at least in written part and 10pc in viva — to clear the test,” he said.

However, he said the academic council believed that it would be discriminatory against the students as they will have to go through three tests as the Law Admission Test [LAT] by the Higher Education Commission was also needed for the eligibility.

“So, they [the academic council] decided that since they are already giving a test in the form of LAT, the admission must be given on the open merit basis with K.S.P category as applied in some other departments as well. I see this decision as completely unbiased and rational, and stand by it,” he added.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2023

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