The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking 2019 includes more than 1,250 universities. It is the global university performance chart to measure research environment, teaching standards, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology of Pakistan has secured a rank of 601-800 in world and ranked top among Pakistani Universities in officially released rankings on Tuesday, September 26, 2019. While Last year, Quaid-i-Azam university (QAU) Islamabad was ranked top in Pakistan and 401-500 in THE ranking 2018, mysteriously, QAU appears out of the ranking this year.
There are many known reasons behind this, such as the current position of QAU. The educational and research environment was largely interrupted by student unions in the university. The chief persona of the QAU valley, the student councils denominated as Quaidian Student Federation (QSF), patently delineate a mini-Pakistan. The QSF comprise Baloch, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Gilgit councils making an attractive simple pentagon made up of many different people, concerning ethnic, racial and linguistic basis. The groups fight with one another as well, and the authorities had to step in so that they could expel the bully students from the institute. After this fracas, during the fall semester of 2017, the student’s groups allied with one another, and proceeded to strike against the administration, with a charter of demands, claiming that they were raising their voice for the needs of the rest of the students by highlighting issues like high fees and low number of buses etc. But their sole purpose was the restoration of expelled students; other points were just to create a room for protest. Briefly, they were restored. During this episode, the working days of the impacted semesters were ribbing.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan is indirectly responsible for such a scenario. HEC wants to sweeten the research field, such that the promotions, payments and other perks are dependent on the number of publications. This is why many professors prefer to focus on research. Spending time more in poorly installed labs, research room with crude setting and with old aged damaged computers, what teacher job is now, enrol students for PhD, just busy himself in earning their degrees. MPhil scholars are left on the clemency of PhD students. In the classroom setting, teachers show less interest, just vomiting a selected text from a book, leaving the students confused at the end of the day.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan is indirectly responsible for such a scenario. HEC wants to sweeten the research field, such that the promotions, payments and other perks are dependent on the number of publications
The continual episodes of strike has not been ended, but has evolved over time. This became evident when many teaching faculty members, during the winter vacations and before the beginning of the spring semester of 2018, demanded the removal of the Vice Chancellor. The VC was deemed incompetent and was accused of lacking financial integrity and leadership acumen, as per the Academic Staff Association (ASA). The matter prolongs and abeyant the new semester. Amazingly, the QSF had nothing to add to these protests but did endorse the ASA.
The fall semester of 2018 is set to begin soon, and yet no VC has been nominated for the university. The solution for this situation is that the government must enforce rule of law rigorously, whether they are professors or students, or those who use vehemence to disrupt the academic activities should have no place on the campus. The Government must take a notice of current ranking of the university and order strict instructions to the administration to stable a healthy research and knowledge transfer environment in the campus. Hopefully QAU can make a return to the THE rankings soon.
The writer is a researcher of Natural Sciences at Physics Department, QAU Islamabad and can be contacted on his Email: email@example.com
Published in Daily Times, October 8th 2018.