QAU’s new project raises eyebrows
Islamabad: Taking lead in generating its own resources, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has taken a novel initiative to set up a school of management sciences on the basis of design, build, finance, operate and transfer.
According to an advertisement placed in the national media, the university has sought expressions of interest from interested parties to set up the Quaid-i-Azam University School of Management Sciences (QASMS) on public-private partnership basis.
However, majority of the varsity’s faculty has disliked the idea, terming it an ill-founded move which would bring a bad name to the university. With the involvement of the private sector, there will definitely be a high fee structure at the proposed school, they said. The very concept means business and profit making that would affect the QAU in a long way, they added.
However, the university spokesperson said as per directives of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and federal government, public sector universities had been asked to take such initiatives to “stand on their own feet”.
Mr Nadeem who deals with QAU public relations said that last year the university had received only Rs525 million whereas it needed over Rs600 million to pay salaries of its employees alone.
“Even on Friday, we had a protest demonstration on the campus for not implementing the government decision of 50 per cent increase in the salaries,” aid Mr Nadeem, adding QAU had no money to implement the decision.
Though Mr Nadeem claimed the varsity was still brainstorming the idea, a deadline of August 12 has been set for interested parties to submit their proposals. The QAU syndicate is also taking up the subject in its meeting on Saturday. A professor of the QAU requesting anonymity said there was nothing wrong with the idea to have public-private partnership but there were reasonable ways and means to do that. “How come a university can go ahead with such a major initiative without seeking prior approval of its syndicate,” he said.
The hotchpotch manner that is being followed to move ahead for setting up of the management sciences school does not go well with the campus community. Already people have started raising their voices against the project, he added. An assistant professor said some powerful elements from the ruling PPP government were eyeing varsity’s prized land under the garb of private-public partnership. There is nothing wrong to start new courses to generate resources but why the involvement of private sector, the assistant professor questioned.
Despite severe criticism, the QAU management got the idea passed through the Academic Council recently and would try to bulldoze it through the syndicate on Saturday. In the presence of politicians like Sherry Rehman and Aftab Shaban Mirani of the PPP who have been nominated as members of the syndicate, the QAU management wants to get approval of the project, said the assistant professor. Fearing reprisals from the university management, nobody is publicly criticising the initiative though it is the hot issue on the campus, he added.
When contacted, Secretary General QAU Academic Staff Association Dr Gulraiz Akhtar accepted that everybody was talking about the issue but the elected body was yet to take it up at the level of executive body meeting. Association president Dr Aitzaz Ahmad could not be contacted for comments. Dawn