Governor urges PM to spend more on higher education
* External linkage directorate announced in universities
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Khaild Maqbool, who is also chancellor of all public universities in the province, has urged Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to increase funds allocated to higher education.
The chancellor, on Tuesday, also directed public universities to set up an external linkage directorate and appoint an external linkage director in each university. The directorate will establish and promote links between universities and industry, identify areas that universities should concentrate more on to produce graduates with skills relevant to industry, and arrange job placements.
These decisions were made at a meeting chaired by Mr Maqbool and attended by university vice chancellors, industry representatives and government officials at Governor’s House.
The meeting also approved the setting up of a special coordination cell at government level and advisory committees of old students to promote links between universities and industry. It also discussed ways to develop relationships with non-government organisations, and establish new engineering campuses near industrial zones.
Mr Maqbool told Daily Times that he had especially recommended that the new prime minister increase higher education funds. He said further recommendations would be made at a future meeting. He said he had also ordered the introduction of new curricula for 50 subjects in public universities. The curricula were finalised last month after one year of deliberations.
Earlier, in remarks at the conclusion of the meeting, Mr Maqbool said the process of universities establishing links with industry would be monitored. He said the quality of education at Pakistani universities needed major improvement. He said universities must teach courses that give graduates skills that industry demands.
Dr Zafar Iqbal Jadoon, director of the Institute of Administrative Sciences and Human Resources Development Centre at the Punjab University, gave a presentation on the topic ‘Linking universities with society’. He suggested that a meeting of vice chancellors be called to teach them the importance of linkages. Industry, NGOs, government representatives, parents and media people should attend. Chambers of commerce and industry, the Higher Education Commission, Punjab University and the University of Engineering and Technology should organise this conference.
Dr Jadoon suggested each university appoint a director of external linkages and each department appoint an officer to act as a focal point. The director should also be responsible for alumni affairs. Directors and focal points should identify clients and their needs. Each university should publish a newsletter. Each department should set up an advisory board or committee that contains representatives from industry, government and NGOs.
He said postgraduate diplomas and short courses should be introduced in specialised areas. Endowment funds should be created and fundraising campaigns organised. Student internships should me made more structured and should be graded. The organisations they work with should also participate in the evaluation process. Industrial parks for research and development should be set up in leading universities. Universities should be accessible to government, corporate and civil sector organisations.
Dr Jadoon suggested that industry experts be invited to conduct training programmes, seminars, workshops and lectures. Students and teachers from other universities should be invited to these as well. Convocations should be held at the university and department level as annual events.
He proposed that the government give companies tax incentives to sponsor research and development and set up chairs in universities. The government should award more consultancy projects to university faculty members. The governor should make it mandatory for universities to submit a curriculum revision and courses and linkages reports annually. The government should make it mandatory for each public and private limited company, medium to large NGOs and government organisations to have a fixed number of faculty members on their advisory boards. The government should oversee faculty development programmes and industry experts should be invited as visiting faculty.
Industrialist Dr Shehla Javed Akram in her presentation focused on the empowerment of female students. She recommended that schools try to motivate their female students to become entrepreneurs. Schools should also train women to start new ventures. They should make marketing, management, finance and IT courses part of their curricula. The media should also try to promote women entrepreneurs.
Dr Akram said the government must simplify the company registration process, which in its current complications discouraged new businesses. The government should also launch an awareness campaign that convinces people not to stop their daughters from taking greater interest in their careers.
Dr Suhail H Naqvi of the HEC said there was a lot of work to be done to develop links between higher education and industry.