Students in a fix as Mianwali varsity found to be unrecognised

MIANWALI:06 February: Nearly 3,000 students of the University of Mianwali are concerned and uncertain about their academic future after they found out that their university is not recognised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and their degrees will not be accepted anywhere. This gloomy picture of a state-run university should be an eye-opener for the Punjab government and needs its prompt attention to provide relief to the students. A sub-campus of the University of Sargodha was established in September 2012 with the efforts of then MPA Ali Haider Noor Khan and MNA Humair Hayat Khan Rokri of the PML-N on incessant demands of the public to provide postgraduate education to students of the district. The classes temporarily started at the MA Block of Govt Degree College Mianwali. The Punjab higher education department later notified the University of Mianwali on Aug 29, 2019, the government issued a notification for its establishment and promulgated an Act on Dec 13, 2019. Resultantly, the sub-campus seized to function and its set-up was handed over to the newly notified varsity. Unfortunately, the new institution did not even fulfil the basic requirements of a university, reducing it to an academic showpiece in the prime minister’s home district. All mega projects of health, highways and education for the district were to be launched and completed by the Punjab government. The premier laid foundation stones of several of them on Nov 22, 2019. University without full-time VC, professors, campus, several faculties, complete syndicate The Mianwali university has a strength of 2,400 students – 1,470 girls and 930 boys – and departments of computer science, mathematics, chemistry, physics, zoology, English, Urdu and business administration. However, it was functioning without a full-time vice chancellor (VC). Dr Shabbar Attiqe, the VC of University of Gujrat, was assigned the additional charge here and he visited once a month. The university also lacked faculties of botany, education, economics, commerce, Islamic studies, Pakistan studies, sociology, psychology, geology, international relations, history, political science etc. The administrative control of the university is also very poor. Regular academics could not be appointed permanently for various disciplines and part-time visiting professors were doing the needful. The university does not even have its own bank account. There has been no effort to acquire land for a full-fledged campus; the temporary accommodation in the building of the postgraduate college was creating difficulties for the administration and students of the college. The university does not feature on the list of universities approved by the HEC and its syndicate remains incomplete. Only political members of the body, including MPAs Sardar Sibtain Khan, Malik Ahmed Khan Bhachar and Zainab Omair Khan, were notified by the Punjab government. On top of this incomplete administrative structure, students and their parents were uncertain about the non-recognition of the university by the HEC. The syndicate has yet to approve the varsity’s monogram and the administration complete all requirements for the institution’s recognition by the HEC. None of these tasks could be completed till the appointment of a permanent VC. The sorry state of affairs came to light in December 2019 when undergraduate students of all universities across Pakistan were declared entitled for scholarships under the prime minister’s Ehsaas programme and the students of the district were shocked to know that their applications were not entertained since their university was not on recognised. This prompted a local lawyer, Abdul Hameed Shehzad, to file a complaint on the Citizen’s Portal, but he did not receive any response, he told Dawn. He said he was hopeless about the functioning of the portal which seemed to be a prey to bureaucratic red-tape. Dr Abdul Majeed Khan Niazi, the university coordinator, admitted to Dawn that there were multiple problems that needed to be addressed at the earliest. He said the government must appoint a permanent VC on priority, provide at least 300 acres for a campus, hire permanent faculty members and launch new programmes. He said a few years ago, 2,600 kanal was donated by the people of Chhidroo village and transferred to the defence ministry for the establishment of Cadet College Mianwali. Unfortunately, due to political intervention, the project was shifted to Isakhel tehsil of the district. The land had however been declared ideal for the construction of an academic institution by a government committee comprising the buildings chief engineer, education secretary and a defence ministry official. Mr Aamir Shehzad, the deputy director of accreditation at the HEC Islamabad, told Dawn that the University of Mianwali would be included to the list of recognised universities as soon as the varsity administration fulfilled all formalities.The news.

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