KARACHI: Demonstra­ting what many described as unusual haste, the University of Karachi on Friday launched a new degree programme without getting it approved by any relevant statutory forums including the academic council.

The four-year bachelor’s in digital media marketing programme was launched at the department of mass communication at a ceremony.

Sources said the syllabus of the particular programme, apparently a copy of another programme already being run at the department of public administration, had attracted a lot of criticism at a meeting of the KU’s Board of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences where it was presented for approval last month.

The sources said that almost the entire 56-member house opposed the proposed programme on multiple grounds and set up a committee to review it.

The committee, they said, prepared a report with a long list of recommendations which was to be presented in the upcoming meeting of the boards of faculty.

But, before this could happen, the sources said, the dean of arts and social sciences faculty and KU vice chancellor “granted the programme approval” on behalf of the board of arts faculty and the academic council, respectively.

“On behalf of the Board of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences I am giving conditional approval to the first year (only) of the Four Year Digital Media Marketing Programme, provided that the department of mass communication incorporate all the conditions set by the committee (report) created by the BOF meeting held on Nov 10, 2023,” said a Dec 5 letter by the dean.

The whole programme, according to the letter, would be approved by the board of arts faculty later.

Speaking to Dawn, teachers expressed their shock and dismay, describing the development as “illegal” and a “serious violation” of university rules and regulations.

“It’s the first time in KU’s history that academic programmes lacking approval from statutory bodies are being launched,” senior KU teacher Dr Riaz Ahmed said, adding that earlier KU vice chancellor “got the sports business management programme forcibly approved” by the academic council.

“The vice chancellor bypassed all other statutory forums and presented the sports programme directly in the academic council without giving an opportunity for debate. The programme was approved the same day it was presented in the council,” he explained, while questioning the motive behind the undue haste in programme’s approval.

Sharing similar concerns, KU academic council member Prof Firduous Imran Ali and former secretary of the Karachi University Teachers Society Dr Faizan Naqvi condemned the move.

“The university has come to a stage that its statutory bodies no longer serve even as a rubber stamp,” regretted Dr Naqvi.

The KU vice chancellor and dean of arts and social sciences were not available for comments.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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