KARACHI, June 25: The Karachi University Academic Council on Saturday decided to restore the three-year BSc, BA, BCom (honours) and two-year MA, MSc and MCom programmes with effect from the academic year 2012.

However, the four-year BS (bachelor of studies) programme of eight semesters which the KU introduced in 2007 on the directives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would be retained as well and, as such, this programme and the BSc, BA and BCom (Hons) programmes of six semesters would run concurrently and the students would have the option to choose any of them.

The meeting presided over by the KU Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr) Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui was attended by all faculties deans, departments chairpersons, directors of different KU institutes, all professors and elected members from KU affiliated colleges.

There are over 200 members of the KU academic council.

The KU in the light of the academic council’s Saturday decision decided to offer admissions in 2012 to the following degree programmes simultaneously: BS four-year (eight semesters); BSc, BA, BCom three-year (honours) (six semesters); and MA, MSc, and MCom two-year (four semesters).

According to KU officials, the existing batches of students who are at various stages of BS programme will be allowed to opt for either: BS on completion of eight semesters; BA/BSc/BCom (Hons) on completion of six semesters; MSc, MA, MCom on completion of four semesters; MA/MSc/MCom on completion of two semesters (after honours).

Emphasising the need for restoring the three-year BSc, BA, and BCom (Hons) and two-year MA, MSc and MCom programmes, the KU officials said that though the KU had introduced BS 4-year programme in 2007 and it was running successfully in almost all departments of the University of Karachi, those passing BS were not being accepted for their rightful place in the competitive job market. The BS students were not considered eligible for grade 17 and grade 18 jobs, while the Master’s degree holders produced by other public and private sector universities were getting these jobs since the requirement of such jobs was a first class master’s degree and not the BS, they said.

The academic council felt that before asking the universities to introduce the four-year BS programme, the HEC should have taken initiatives to sensitise the Federal and Provincial Public Service Commissions/R&D institutions and other employers to the equivalence status of the BS programme to Master’s degree (MA/MSc/MCom) so that the same might had been reflected in their job advertisements, they said.

The academic council pointed out that during a survey of different public sector universities it was found that they were offering admissions to BA, BSc and BCom (Hons) and Master’s programmes (MSc/MA/MCom) together with the new BS programme, they added.

“In order to address all issues related to the BS programme and to save the career of our students, the only way out seems to continue our four years (eight semesters) BS programme in addition to our previously approved programmes: MA/MSc/MCom (two years/ four semesters); MA/MSc/MCom (one year/ two semesters); and BA/BSc/BCom (Hons) three years/six semesters,” the academic council said in a statement.

It said that the Master’s and BS programmes would remain same as their courses had been updated and, as such, the KU students would be able to compete better for right positions in the job market.

The students who are in different stages of BS programme or have completed eight semesters of BS will be given an opportunity to opt either for BA/BSc/(Hons) and MA/MSc or to remain in the BS programme, it said.

All students will be graded according to the examination and assessment rules of Semester Rules 2002 Booklet (pgs 6 and 7) as per the registrar’s notification dated March 13, 2009, the statement added.

Teachers’ society reaction

Commenting on the decision of the academic council, Karachi University Teachers’ Society president Prof Abid Hasnain told Dawn that though both the three-year BA, BSc and BCom (Hons) programme and the four-year BS programme would run concurrently, the later programme would naturally die out as most students would opt for the former programme. He said the students would have the option of either getting honours degree after passing their six semester or a Master’s degree after successfully completing eight semesters.

“In fact, the BS programme was introduced in haste and under the pressure of the HEC,” he said.