ISLAMABAD: The government has introduced a bill in parliament for converting COMSATS Institute intoa full-fledged University in order to get higher status, grabbing attention of donors and providing quality education to thousands of students on annual basis.
A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology under chairmanship of Senator Osman Saifullah Khan is scheduled to be held today (Thursday) at the Parliamentary Lodges to hold further discussion on COMSATS University Bill 2017 as referred by the House on January 10 this year for consideration and submission of report.
The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) is a public sector federally chartered degree awarding institute working under supervision of Ministry of Science & Technology. It was established in August 2000 during Musharraf regime under Presidential Ordinance No.XXXVIII of 2000 which was later on validated by the Parliament when Legal Framework Order (LFO) and other Ordinances were given legal cover by the Parliament in the wake of 2002 elections with the help of then PML (Q), PPP Patriots and MMA.
The tabled COMSATS University bill proposed that the university shall be a body corporate by the name of COMSATS University Islamabad and shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued by the said name. The university shall be competent to acquire and hold property both moveable and immoveable and to lease, sell or otherwise transfer any property, which have been acquired by it.
Notwithstanding, anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the university shall have academic, financial and administrative autonomy, including the power to employ officers, teachers and other employees on such terms as may be prescribed subject to the terms of this Act and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Ordinance 2002. The proposed bill dwelt upon the powers and purpose of this upcoming university as it will provide education and scholarships in such branches of knowledge as it may deem fit and to make provision for research and service to society.
The proposed bill states that the university shall be open to all persons of either gender and of whatever religion, race, creed, class, colour or domicile and no person shall be denied the privileges of the university on the grounds of religion, race, caste, creed, class, color or domicile.
The bill proposed that an increase in any fee or charge that is in excess of ten percent per annum on annual basis from the last such increase may not be made except in special circumstances and only with the approval of Chancellor.
The President of Pakistan shall be the Chancellor of the university. The selected members of the Senate and Rector shall be appointed by the Chancellor from amongst the persons recommended by the Representation Committee and the Search Committee respectively in accordance with the Act.
Talking to The News, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology Senator Osman Saifullah Khan, said that the panel meeting was rescheduled for Thursday (today) in which COMSATS University bill would be considered for approval. To a query, he said that a sub- committee was constituted to probe whether changes in the draft bill were made or not to accommodate certain clauses into the bill. He said that there were some concerns regarding appointment of Rector and given powers but it is important bill which will be accorded approval after hearing views of all sides.
This correspondent also visited COMSATS Institute Islamabad Campus which is situated on a state-of-the-art and beautiful building. This Campus, located in the suburb of the federal capital, also possessed a library where hundreds of students visited on daily basis.
Dr S.M Junaid Zaidi, Rector COMSATS Institute of Information Technology told The News in an exclusive talk in his tastefully decorated office that there was one percent shortfall out of total operational expenditures as 22 percent cost was borne by the government, 78 percent through collection of fee and one percent remained deficit on annual basis. When asked about fees structure for students, Dr Junaid Zaidi said that they had provided scholarship to 10,000 students by utilising Rs1.02 billion during the last academic year. He said that there were 3 projects having PC-1 pending before the Planning Commission as they wanted to construct Quetta Campus for which they had already acquired land.
The remaining projects are related to upgrading the existing eight campuses for which they require Rs800 million per campus.