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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Illegal campuses of Universities: Students’ careers in danger

Sources claim that illegal sub-campuses of several universities are not operating under the law which may cost the career of the students studying at such campuses. Has the HED any policy to ensure that academic careers of students of ‘illegal campuses’ shall not be damaged?

In a latest development, the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) has taken notice of illegal sub-campuses operated by several private universities and directed these varsities to immediately stop the intake of student at the unauthorized campuses. Sources claim that the universities may take appropriate steps to get the sub-campuses legalized in due time.

According to two letters written to the chairmen of the board of governors of the private universities and rectors/heads, the department listed the illegal sub-campuses and directed them to stop the intake of students.

The private universities operating illegal sub-campuses are the University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore; the National College of Business Administration and Economics (NCBA&E), Lahore; the Hajvery University, Lahore; the Qarshi University, Muridkye; the University of Central Punjab (UCP), Lahore; and the Superior College, Lahore.

According to the HED, the UMT was operating an illegal sub-campus in Sialkot in violation of Section 5(2) of the University of Management & Technology Act 2004 and the department under Second Schedule of the Punjab Government Rules of Business, 2011 asked the varsity to stop the intake of students at the illegal sub-campus.

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Similarly, the NCBA&E was found to be operating illegal sub-campuses in Bahawalpur, Gujrat, Sialkot and Rahim Yar Khan; the Hajvery University in Sheikhupura; the Qarshi University operating two illegal sub-campuses in Lahore; the UCP in Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Gujrat and Sargodha; and the Superior College in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Khanpur and Bahawalpur.

The HED, in the letters, said the aforementioned universities were operating the sub-campuses in violation of their Acts.

A senior HED official, seeking anonymity, reported The News, said unauthorized and unlawful academic programs (being offered without accreditation) at many of these unauthorized sub-campuses were tantamount to offence of a serious nature. He went on to say that certain programs were being offered at these unauthorized sub-campuses beyond legal jurisdiction as well as statutory approvals of the Patron (Governor Punjab) as per the Act/Ordinances of these very universities.

The official said at most of the sub-campuses the universities did not fulfill the prescribed requirements of teaching faculty. “This shortage of teaching faculty has a direct bearing on the prescribed benchmarks of quality of education and student-teacher ratio,” he added. Giving an example he said, against the requirement of 44 PhDs, only 32 PhD faculty members were working at the UoL’s Gujrat sub-campus (unauthorized) across 11 departments with no PhD faculty in the Medical Lab Technology, Radiological Medical Imaging and Physical Therapy departments.

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It is pertinent to mention that HED Punjab high-ups in a recent meeting with Special Committee of the Punjab Assembly constituted to inquire into / evaluate the issues moved up in the Adjournment Motion No 769/19 informed the committee that in the past, similar situation was witnessed with regard to the establishment of sub-campuses of both public and private sector universities of Punjab.

The committee was informed that transparency, legality, propriety and quality were major casualties while the “investors/owners” minted huge amount of money at the cost of future of thousands of students. In this regard, the committee was informed that BZU’s unauthorized sub-campus at Lahore was closed down on account of illegalities involved in its approval/establishment while the students had to be adjusted at the principle seat in Multan and some other universities. Similarly the University of Sargodha’s five sub-campuses were also found short of legal and codal requirements and the students had to be adjusted at the principle seat during 2017-18, the committee was also informed.