Vice Chancellors of leading universities discuss problems in higher education

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ISLAMABAD: The Vice Chancellors of Pakistani universities discussed academic discourse and problems being faced higher education in the country during one-day consultative conference titled “Emerging Trend & Challenges in Higher Education”.

They said emerging Trends & Challenges in Higher Education is an important issue in today’s progressive world where everything is just a click away. Time has come to revise policies to face the modern world with equal on-going trends and technologies, they added.

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The conference was organized by Allama Iqbal Open University in collaboration with Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. The purpose of the conference was to review the current higher education policies in Pakistan and discuss possibilities for the future education planning.

Through this moot, Vice Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University, Prof. Dr. Zia-ul-Qayyum, made an effort to build consensus between universities and the Higher Education Commission.

His efforts finally paid off and he along with the VC, Quaid-i-Azam university Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali managed to get the Vice Chancellors of 26 Pakistani universities under one roof for consultation at Allama Iqbal Open University.

Educationists across the country expressed determination to overcome the challenging situation and bringing everyone under one umbrella.

They believed that when educationists sit together, they can find solutions to cope up with the fast-moving world.

The conference focused on four key areas: Undergraduate and Postgraduate policies; Future of Higher Education; Technology driven Governance and Instructional Management; and Information Influence as a global challenge.

The Chief Guest of the inaugural session was Prof. Dr. Khalid Mehmood Khan, President, Pakistan Academy of Sciences while Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Former Chairman HEC, VC, QAU Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali and Prof. Dr. Masoom Yaseenzai , Rector IIUI were among the guest of honors.

Prof. Dr. Zia-ul-Qayyum, Vice Chancellor, Allama Iqbal Open University, in his welcome address highlighted objectives of the conference.

He said higher education is going through a very difficult period. In the past some decisions were made in such a way that leading academicians had reservations.

Dr. Quyyum said his intention is not to criticize anyone, but to have a healthy discussion to help chalk-out future policies.

He said these discussions should culminate into proposals to be sent to the government and relevant stakeholders.

In their speeches during inaugural session participants shared their views on the current policies and state of their implementation.

They said consultation process needs to determine what kind of research the country needs at the moment and which subjects should universities focus to ensure employment for graduates.

In the first session, the keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Mahmood Al Hassan Butt, a renowned educationist and expert in educational planning and policy, gave a detailed analysis on recent postgraduate, undergraduate and postgraduate policies.

Dr. Mahmoud Al-Hassan Butt said that the Higher Education Commission should consult and seek feedback from universities, teachers and even students before formulating any policy on higher education.

He said that for the last two to three years, the key stakeholders of the country’s higher education have been kept away from the consultative process which has caused great loss to the country in general and higher education in particular.

Presiding over this session, Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission, emphasized the need to analyse higher education from a different perspective- keeping in view individual needs of a person.

The moderator of the first session was Prof. Dr. Nasir Mahmood, the Dean Faculty of Education, AIOU. Among the speakers were Prof. Dr. Khalid Iraqi the Vice Chancellor University of Karachi; Prof. Dr. Anwarul Hassan Gilani Vice Chancellor, University of Haripur; Prof. Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Vice Chancellor, University of Shifa Ta’meer Millat, Islamabad; Vice Chancellor of Engineering and Technology Karachi, Prof. Dr. Surosh Hashmat Lodhi, Rector of University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, Prof. Dr. Syed Mansoor Sarwar and Vice Chancellor of University of Balochistan Quetta, Dr. Shafiqul Rehman.

A question-and-answer session was held after a constructive discussion on undergraduate and graduate policies.

The keynote speakers of the second session were Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-e-Azam University, while Dr. Shahid Mehmood, CEO Interactive System, Islamabad presented his views on the future of higher education in Pakistan keeping in view the requirements of the 21st century.

The session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha, Vice Chancellor, University of Education Lahore. Among the panelists were Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission, Prof. Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid; Rector of International Islamic University, Prof. Dr. Masoom Yaseenzai; Vice Chancellor of Peshawar Agriculture University, Prof. Dr. Jahan Bakht; Vice Chancellor of Islamia University Bahawalpur, Dr. Athar Mehboob; Vice Chancellor, Bahauddin Zakaria University Multan, Prof. Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi; Vice Chancellor of Women’s University Multan, Prof. Dr. Uzma Qureshi; Vice Chancellor of Karakoram International University Gilgit, Dr. Ataullah Shah and Vice Chancellor of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University, Prof. Dr. Sajida Noreen .

The panelist said that there is a need for paradigm shift in higher education, so that it should become source of providing leadership to the country in all the fields.

The third session on Technology Driven Governance and Instructional Management was chaired by the Vice Chancellor of University of Haripur, Prof. Dr. Anwarul Hassan Gilani while the Vice Chancellor of Allama Iqbal Open University, Prof. Dr. Zia ul-Qayyum was the keynote speaker of the session.

Among the panelists were Dr. Athar Mehboob, Vice Chancellor of Islamia University Bahawalpur; Dr. Ataullah Shah, Vice Chancellor of Karakoram International University; Prof. Dr. Sajida Noreen, Vice Chancellor of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University; Prof. Dr. Jamil Ahmed Vice Chancellor of Hazara University, and Prof. Dr. Surosh Hashmat Lodhi, Vice Chancellor, NED University of Engineering and Technology Karachi.

Prof. Dr. Zia-ul-Qayyum shared his views on digital governance. Dr. Zia-ul-Qayyum said that digitization is essential in today’s world.  Educationists have to pay special attention to the use of technology.

The fourth session was on Information Influence as a global challenge. The keynote speaker of this session was Prof. Dr. Wasim Qazi and renowned Professor and Media analyst Dr Riffat Hussain.  Prof. Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi, Vice Chancellor, Bahauddin Zakaria University presided over the session.

The panelists of this session explained how digital change has led to the inherent controversy of bringing the western culture dominance.  This has created another sort of digital divide. This influences our higher education as well. On the one hand digitalization make information accessible being our friends and on the other hand search engines can be our enemies.

The techniques of marketing bring various pages on top in search and this is how information is manipulated. There is a need to teach students how to share, analyze and interpret the information being poured. Critical thinking and analytical reasoning have to be inculcated to enable the students compete the modern world. The students should develop habit of reading books instead of using presentations and short text notes.

After a productive discussion on selected topics at the conference, recommendations were made for the government.

Also Read:The Road Not Taken

 

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