As part of NEDians Convention 2007, I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy's keynote speech and then had a conversation with Dr. Shamsul Haq, the Pro VC of NEDUET. Both confirmed that, under Dr. Ataur Rahman's leadership, there has been a dramatic increase in spending on higher education. Here's a quote from Prof Hoodbhoy's speech: "Currently(2007), HEC's total spending is a huge Rs. 33.7 billion, mostly for universities." This is a 10-fold increase in about 4-5 years.
A brief conversation with Dr. Shamsul Haq confirmed for me that the money is currently not an issue for NEDUET. The funds, according to him, are being used to send faculty abroad for higher education and to improve buildings, labs, equipment and infrastructure in general.
The biggest problem Dr. Haq brought up is the ability of NEDUET to attract and retain competent faculty because of the constraints imposed on faculty compensation by the various Government pay-grades being applied in the process. In other words, the compensation offered by NEDUET (and I assume other government-funded institutions) is not competitive with the industry and the market. This is obviously a very serious issue because the quality of the faculty is the greatest contributor to the quality of education and research at an institution of higher learning.
One of possible ways that NED alumni can play a role here is to set up a mechanism such as an alumni center to get more involved in understanding and influencing decision-making processes. We can try and lobby for compensation reform and development of various incentives to attract and retain the best possible faculty at NEDUET. What do you think? Please jump in and talk about what alumni in general and you in particular would do to improve the situation?
Please see the attached pdf file containing the text of Dr. Hoodbhoy's keynote speech at NEDians Convention 2007. The speech is titled: The Power of Ideas and the Modern University. It was delivered to about 400 attendees on Sept 8, 2007 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.Hope you find it relevant to this forum.
I truly agreed with you about the HEC role in Higher eductaion, but i wonder about the NED future,time is near when NED will approach the situation where Dawood college is today. i also agreed with Dr Haq that their funds are also being used in building labs. i had opportunity to see couple of months back there are alot of construction going on but i dont know building labs and occupying equipments with out strong faculty and research be impertant or not? .to see the extent of research carrying out at NED look at the NED website, you will not wonder that there is no research tab on the website.i think they dont know how much this is imp in building the Uni name around the world. i still donot know why administration at NED is beleiving by constucting labs and buidling they can ensure better research. i am sorry to say the faculty at NED is not much stronger as it supposed to be except few at NED. If someone trying to do effort to make it individually then NED adimin discourage them, case of Dr Z Zaidi is recent story. few year back the story of center of excellence at NED by Dr Aamir, I regret that this not happened first time. Mr Riaz i am not discouraging but i am sheding light on imp issue, to wake up this is our Alma mater please donot let it going..... save it. you invited people to form loby to suggest about the issue but i donot know the results? will your suggestion get considerable attention at NED admin ?? i want to ask Dr Haq if they have funds why they are not offering good pay to faculty rather building labs and constructing rooms ?? this should be comparable with the private sector uni or industry, even i can say at least should be comparable with the Mehran Engg uni sindh. Mehran offering very good to some their Prof thats y they are there since long , Mehran is also public sector uni then y NED canot make it? even they have funds as they are claiming. My perspective is now like that some one trying to ruin our Alma MATER !!!
Thank you for bringing your personal experience and perspective to this discussion. I agree that change is not going to be easy. But, without change, I fear that not only NED but the rest of the higher education in science and tech in Pakistan will continue to slide. I see many NEDian and Pakistani entrepreneurs (Rehan Jalil of Wichorus and Naveed Sherwani of OpenSilicon are examples) going to India to set up shop and look for IIT grads. A few of them, such as Raghib Husain of Cavium, do try and succeed in finding engineers in Pakistan but they usually find them in places other than Karachi. To be competitive with IIT and other institutions of higher learning, we'll need major reform in how NEDUET and other public-funded schools are structured and managed. We can look to how UC system in California, UT system in Texas and IITs in India are run by independent boards of trustees free from government interference and political influences. They get significant funding from the taxpayers and some from private sources including industry and alumni. However, they operate pretty much on their own with their own rules on hiring, firing,compensation, promotions, research, curricula etc. They're usually managed by very competent administrators and academics with a vision, and not by government bureaucrats. They are able to use many different incentives to bring the best faculty and compete effectively with private institutions such as the Ivy League.
This is what I think is needed at NEDUET. You can try and tinker at the fringe but the results will only be peripheral.
A major change would require someone to champion it and bring all possible resources to develop proposals and make the arguments at the highest levels of Pakistani establishment. Achieving the best possible standards of education in science & tech education is truly a matter of survival for Pakistan to remain competitive economically, politically, militarily and socially in its own region and the world.
As you say in your post, the purpose of this forum is not to bash any one in particular but to think out loud and find ways of getting to our goal: Making NEDUET a world-class institution of higher learning.
Hopefully, out of this discussion, we'll get to a specific set of ideas that can be pursued to get some results on the ground.
I completely agree with the management of universities by bureaucrats which has caused a lot of damage and played the best role in introducing the sort of politics that should not be there in an educational institution both among teachers as well as students making them more political institutions instead of educational. This has also added more official procedures and a long chain of approving authorities to get some work done. I also agree with Mr. Zeeshan about the construction of many labs and occupying equipments with out strong faculty and research. I will also like to add up incident of my encounter with a few PhD students from Quaid-e-Azam university during my MS. Those people were about to finish their PhD but did not know where their research can be utilized.
Just as Mr. Khurram mentioned about the importance of grooming students and providing them a culture of research and creative thinking that they can use in their higher degrees. But is it possible with the existing faculty except a few? You will be ashamed, if you go through the CVs and academic record that HEC scholars who are selected not on merit but due to the fact that they are faculty members in some university or working in a scientific research (mostly defense oriented) organization.
We need motivated teachers who not only know what will be the solution of a particular problem of a book, they should also know how to relate the problems in text with real world. They need refresher courses for themselves.
So far no one has addressed the last question placed by Mr. Riaz "what alumni in general and you in particular would do to improve the situation?"
By making some kind of Alumni organization in coordination with NED Admin (The white house what we used to call it), we can start with series of guest lectures by who ever is willing to give one on his / her visit to Pakistan. The senior Alumni can influence in addition of courses such as philosophy of science, enigneerng methodologies etc. for refinement of thinking process of students.
As far as I remember NED used to hire visiting faculty for the ME program. That can be done for the BE level as well by replacing some of the old courses with some state of the art offered by some ex-Nedian. Furthermore, some old courses can be replaced by new ones designed and taught by members of Alumni.
Last but not least "the industrial cooperation", at present most of the efforts put forth are by students themselves which should be done at the institution level. This includes internships, projects, some kind of job fairs etc.
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