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October 5, 2018

Empowered by controversial law, CM chairs NED varsity’s Senate meeting


October 5, 2018

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday chaired for the first time a meeting of the top-most statutory forum of any public sector university in the province since the enactment of the controversial Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Act 2018.

The law, which was approved by the Sindh Assembly earlier in the year, empowers the CM to preside over such meetings. The CM chaired the meeting of the Senate of NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi at its main campus. The varsity also happens to be his alma mater as he obtained a bachelors of engineering degree from it some three decades back.

Earlier, the laws governing the functioning of public sector universities in Sindh empowered the governor, as he is the chancellor of all public sector universities registered in the province, to preside over the meetings of the varsities’ Senate.

Since the time, the Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Act 2018 was passed, the office of chancellor has been made completely ceremonial and his involvement in the varsities’ affairs is now restricted to just presiding over the proceedings of annual convocations.

The Sindh Universities and Institutes Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 was passed by the Sindh Assembly in April 2018 amidst protests by opposition members and teachers of the public sector universities.

The opposition had adopted the stance that the new amendment law would empower the provincial government to interfere in the varsities’ affairs, which would eventually result in corrupt practices.

Likewise, the teachers had argued that the new law would deprive the public sector universities of their autonomy as the government and provincial bureaucracy would easily interfere in policies of the varsities. The teachers also expressed concern over ever-shrinking role of the office of chancellor that had been reduced to a ceremonial job.

The provincial assembly had to pass the controversial bill twice as then Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair returned the bill without his assent when it was approved the first time. Commenting on the new law, Prof Dr Shakeel Farooqui, a former office bearer of the Karachi University Teachers’ Society, said earlier, the chancellor had powers to chair meetings of the Senate of public sector universities that reviewed financial affairs of the varsities.

Explaining the rationale behind the governor’s (chancellor) authority to chair the varsities’ Senate, Dr Farooqui said the governor is the representative of the federal government and he used to chair Senate meetings as the federal government provided financial grants to the varsities. However, this is no more the case after passage of the new amendment law, he said.

Senate proceedings

A statement issued by NED University said that 26th meeting of Senate of the NED University was held with the CM in chair. The annual budget of the varsity for financial year 2018-19 having volume of Rs2.554 billion was presented during the Senate session.

NED University Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Sarosh Hashmat Lodi gave a presentation to the participants of the meeting in which he said NED University has been placed among the top 25 universities of Asia Pacific region. A total of 24 departments under six faculties are offering 29 undergraduate and 57 post-graduate degree programmes, he said.

The VC informed the meeting that during the academic year 2017-18, the varsity admitted 2,393 students in its undergraduate programmes while 1,753 students were enrolled in the post-graduate programmes. Of the students of the undergraduate programmes, 39 per cent were female while the ratio of female students was 29 per cent in the post-graduate programmes.

The Senate was informed that as many as 1,982 students of undergraduate programmes and 802 of graduate programmes passed out during the annual convocation for the academic year 2017-18.

The meeting was also briefed on the faculty of the varsity. It was informed that there are 506 faculty members at NED University, of whom 20 are foreign faculty members. As many as 176 faculty members of the varsity have completed PhD degrees.

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