National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) has been in the news for numerous good reasons. They were ranked in the QS Rankings among the top 500 universities of the world and were recently included in top 50 young universities of the world. To all that good news are certain professional reasons and one of the reason of such professionalism is the bodies operating within the university. On Friday, NUST’s new alumni association has taken oath for their duties to begin.
Due to spread of deadly virus and closure of institutes, an online ceremony was arranged in which 97 members were present. The ceremony was headed by Registrar of NUST, whereas, Rector and Chairman of Alumni Association were also included in the online ceremony. Alumni, who were interested in becoming a part of the association had applied in the month of February and elections took place in the last month with results being declared last week. The oath ceremony included the remarks of Rector, Registrar and Chairman of Alumni Association.
One of the education system which is studied in private schools of Pakistan is Cambridge stream in which students qualify for O Levels and A Levels rather than Matriculation and Intermediate. At the time of applying into Pakistani institutes, they need to get an equivalence certificate from Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC). The committee had been deducting 15% marks of all such students as a permanent rule, however, the rule has been suspended for the time being in order to give relief to Pakistani students studying in various institutes across the country.
The students had already faced trouble in the Cambridge exams of 2020, therefore, in order to safeguard their marks; this decision has been taken by IBCC. In the previous week, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) announced the cancellation of all Cambridge exams which were scheduled in the month of May and June. Later on, same institute passed a decision that students will be awarded marks on a 4 step process using evidence provided by schools.
After the announcement of such relief decision for the students of O Levels and A Levels, IBCC has asked all international examination conducting bodies to furnish the results of all Pakistani students for last 3 years. The decision has been communicated to CAIE, American System of Education (ASE) and International Baccalaureate (IB). This is being done to ensure transparency while awarding the marks, while IBCC said that this decision has been taken only for the exams of June, 2020.
Government of Punjab has drafted an act regarding Public Sector Universities named Public Sector Universities (Amendment) Act 2020. However, serious concerns have been registered by various Vice Chancellors of public sector universities across Punjab. VCs are of the view that the amendment will be a step towards politicizing institutes with an appointment of retired judge or bureaucrat as its head.
The reservations were also brought to social media as VC of Punjab University said that amendment made by Punjab government will deprive public institutes of their much needed autonomy. GCU’s Academic Staff Association has named the amendment as anti-education initiative. VC of GCU had also expressed similar concerns in a talk show on a leading news channel of the country. Academic associations have now come to front by indicating protests to follow on the policy.
Educational institutes had to face a lot of troublesome situation in the past few months due to global pandemic of covid-19. The situation still hasn’t improved but certainly, various parts of the society are now developing a sense of living with the virus for at least few years from now on. Crises isn’t over from anywhere with growing cases and deaths in Pakistan but one has to adhere to all the SOPs along with guidelines. Health crisis can very quickly transform into an economic and food crisis if the things are not started.
Keeping in view all such scenarios, government and institutes have decided to continue educational activities using the online platform of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms etc. Similar to that, institutes are now opening up their admissions using the same platforms. Few of the universities have a fully functional Learning Management System, whereas, others are using their websites. Interested students can now apply for various Bachelor and Master level program in different universities as admissions are now open.
Information Technology University, Lahore School of Economics, Pak Aims Institute of Management Sciences, Ripah International University, National University of Sciences and Technology, Institute of Management Sciences, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Hamdard University, National University of Modern Languages, Bahria University, Goethe-Institute, IBA Sukkur, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Butto Institute of Science and Technology Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Capital University of Science and Technology, Ziauddin University, Comsats University and Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology have opened their admissions. Cadet colleges including Cadet College in Jehlum, Army Public School and College in Karachi, Askari Cadet College in Kallar Kahar, Wapda Cadet College in Tarbela and Cadet College in Kasur are now also taking students for coming academic session.
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In China, a mother and daughter have been able to pass Medical’s postgraduate exam in the same class. The news coming out of Sichuan city from the province of Beijing shows that a 50-years old nurse named Bai Yungi had taken admission in South West Medical University and his 25-years old daughter Lulu was already studying there.
However, the daughter was unable to pass the exam in her first attempt. But the mother gave her confidence to start preparation once again and appear in the exams with more high confidence than before. Mother and daughter both were taking classes and preparing for exams collectively. Two of them used to help each other and at last, mother and daughter both passed the exams with decent marks in medical’s postgraduate exam.
The problems of educational institutes can increase according to the funds entitled by federal and provincial governments. Higher Education Commission (HEC) demanded 42 Billion rupees for education budget but only 29 Billion are awarded to the education by Federal government. Federal government says that it has increased the budget of education, however, it is a nominal increase of only 400 Million rupees. Some of the universities have registered their concern by stating that they will not be able to pay salaries as heavy amount is reliant on government’s funding.
In the last financial budget, government reduced 10% from the development budget for education, which caused a lot of trouble for the institutes. In order to fill in that gap, educational institutes raised their fees. Dr. Mumtaz, President of Punjab’s Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association has said this is a very nominal increase in current budget and this is more worrisome situation for the institutes than last year. The situation is not good as this is not sufficient budget for managing educational expenses. Universities will not be able to carry out research and development activities with such budgetary concerns.
University of Engineering and Technology (UET) had announced that they have extended their deadline for entry tests as some of the students are facing problems owing to the lockdown situation in country. The decision has been made in order to facilitate students at most. Previously, UET had announced 1st June, 2020 as the deadline for registration of students. 1st June was the deadline till which students have to submit their e-registration forms.
Although, availability of internet and completion of required documents was not easy at all due to certain restrictions in wake of Covid-19. However, the dates for entry tests are unchanged with Saturday and Sunday dedicated solely for entry tests using Virtual University’s centers.
13th June and 14th June will be the dates for final entry tests, however, students will also be able to attend a mock exam on 6th June and 7th June in the allotted centers of Virtual University during the said time. Organizers have strictly developed SOPs and had requested the same to students so that social distancing can be practiced with avoiding the spread of deadly virus.
Too much of interest has been given in last one month to the exams and decisions taken by the provincial and federal governments. One of the recent developments suggests that Sindh has announced in a policy statement that there will be no exams from class 1 to 12 across the province and all would be promoted. Sindh’s Education Minister, Saeed Ghani said that decision was made with the agreement of steering committee on education.
However, the decision regarding those students who had failed in more than 40% subjects still remain unanswered. The minister said that they will be given passing marks and shall be promoted into next grades. Furthermore, the students who had failed in matriculation or intermediate exams and want to improve their marks via papers will not be provided any opportunity of such nature in 2020. The same opportunity could be available next year.
Sindh government has made a decision contrary to Federal government as Islamabad decided to conduct a special exam for those candidates who failed in more than 40% subjects. But Sindh will promote all students by grading passing marks rather than conducting any special exam. The students of 10th and 12th classes will be given marks based on previous year with adding 3% marks making their total obtained score. Whereas, 9th and 11th students will be promoted without any marks and their marks of 2020 will be determined using their performance in 2021 with the same formula used in this year.
As far as, conduct of classes are concerned, all institutes are encouraged to start online classes but no one shall be allowed to open their gates as strict actions will be taken all such instances. The institutes shall remain to close as per the orders of all provinces and federal but Sindh’s education minister said that till any further orders, educational institutions shall remain close.
The exams have been cancelled and universities are in a spot of bother for developing their admissions policy. In spite of such confusion, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has announced that it will accept web based results for granting admissions to the students. The admissions for M.A., M. Sc., M. Ed, B. Ed, BS, B.A, BBA and Associate Degrees have been opened and applicants can apply till 5th June, 2020.
The distant learning universities had already issues web based results and are available to the students through their online portals, whereas, AIOU has taken the step to dispatch the hard form of results to the postal addresses of students. VC AIOU said that their university will take every step for ensuring educational continuity despite the pandemic crisis across the world. However, university has been strictly observing SOPs laid by the government as few of the administrative departments of AIOU are attending offices.
In wake of pandemic COVID-19, the entire world has taken the online route and in order to manage that, there is a need of few specialists. Hence, there has been a high need of managing online resources and e-library so for that particular reason, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) has launched Master in Library and Information Sciences (MLIS). The entire world remains in a position of strict or relaxed lockdown, therefore, now interested individuals can study it using an online platform as provided by AIOU.
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The program was announced on the website of the university prior to Eid holidays and now has been publicized in the leading newspaper too. The last date for applying in this program is 5th June, 2020. AIOU said in their policy statement that MLIS will be launched under the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities with an aim to develop the knowledge, skills and qualification of the ones that are already working in the related field.
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It is to be noted that Bachelor degree is already being offered by AIOU but now Master degree has also been initiated. There is a high number of Library and Information Sciences graduates that have shown their desire to take admission into Master degree. Number of opportunities for such students are quite less as there are hardly any university which provides a Master degree in related field. Lastly, AIOU has ensured all the interested students that they will receive quality education using the state of the art learning management system of the university.