Islamabad - A three-day regional directors’ conference of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) began here Saturday to adopt ways and means for qualitative improvement in the university’s overall system, particularly enhancing its role as a research-based organisation.It is also aimed at strengthening regional campuses’ role in providing best possible services to the students and to ensure quality education. Some 44 regional directors (Rds) of the university are participating in the moot. Addressing the opening session, Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Siddiqui highlighted four areas of priorities set by him, including promotion of research culture, professional development, revision of text-books and strengthening students’ support system. He said professional development was being attached high priority for the capacity-building of the employees, enabling them to deliver the best.Underlying the importance of students’ support system, he said it was the backbone in distance education system. Keeping in view the priority areas, he said the university had undertaken a series of activities, including skill-based lecture series, distinguished lecture series, book and author series, research colloquium, awareness and advocacy series, and media dialogue.Dr Siddiqui hoped that the regional campuses could lay special focus on maximum utilization of the available technology for meeting the requirements of distance education. They should also work hard for the development of knowledge, skills and attitude to bring about qualitative improvement in the university’s working, he added.  In order to promote self-learning and providing support to research work, he said the university’s library had been switched over to automation system. Besides this, on-campus training-courses for faculty and non-faculty employees were in progress to enable the workforce to provide unparalleled and error-free services to the students, he added. He said a process was underway to launch a new students friendly website of the university. The first ever-issue of quarterly newsletter would be published from this month to reconstruct and rebuild the university’s image among the people, home and abroad. To encourage research work, he said, a committee had been constituted for preparing incentives package, which would be implemented after approval by the Executive Council. In 2015 the university would publish at least four research journals. Dr Shahid Siddiqui reiterated that the students’ support system would remain the top priority area in their on-going efforts for qualitative improvement in the university’s overall system. He said a comprehensive complaint management centre was being set up for quick response to the calls and queries received from students. The university, he added, was in communication with the postal departments for more efficient delivery system.The Vice-Chancellor appreciated the efforts of regional directors developing AIOU as one of the world’s mega universities, imparting education to 1.3 million students. He advised them to take great carte in appointing the tutors. He also directed them to set up a complaint management centre at their regions as well to facilitate the students.Earlier, Registrar AIOU Prof Dr Nowshad Khan and Director Regional Services, Prof Dr Rashid A Naeem highlighted aims and objectives of the conference. The conference will be followed by a training course on “Management, Accounts and Information Technology. Renowned intellectuals and educationists from different educational institutions will deliver their lectures. It will discuss new strategies for improving educational delivery, examination, communication methods, adoption of new technology, students care, appointment of tutors, problems, solutions and future plans and future planning.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 25-Jan-2015 here.