In the latest QS World University Rankings 2019, only two Pakistani institutions made it to the top 500 and merely seven to the top 1000. Just one of our universities is listed in the top 500 on the rankings of QS Graduate Employability. Such is the poor and appalling condition of higher education in the country.

Our university education system is caught in many serious dilemmas. Many public universities serve as places for political contests. Generally, both students and teachers have their own political wings. Student federations associated with any political party would come on roads to lodge angry and violent protests at the drop of a hat on the slightest whims of their political masters. Most of them are so powerful that they can shut down the whole campus for days by brute force. Coercing teachers to dismiss classes so that students could participate in demonstrations is routine. Resorting to inter-federation political violence is also commonplace. Having political affiliations, most of the authorities and administrators strongly support the respective students’ organizations.

The overall situation in hostels is also tragic. Illicit drugs are used by students and alcohol consumed with impunity. Many addicts (students) first start on soft drugs, such as cannabis which is readily available and then go for more potent drugs like ice (methamphetamine) etc. Drug rings operate without much difficulty allegedly with the connivance of some officials. Likewise, for the most part political activities are also undertaken there which lead to chaos and unrest. It is the hostels where most of the brilliant and best students, whose parents have built hopes on them, transform into drug addicts and political tools. Outsiders, those who reside illegally, are mostly responsible for ruining the atmosphere here.

Moreover, there are highly qualified teachers in our universities. But, is only educational qualification enough? Many among them resort to teaching via PowerPoint presentations, giving plain reading to the contents, and ending the class with absolutely no concern for any learning process. They may hold first-class degrees and be gold-medalists but, regrettably, possess no aptitude for teaching. Usually practical work is paid no attention to and data is faked without performance of experiments. Rote learning is encouraged and teachers are pleased with reproduction in papers of what they have exactly taught. Some teachers would hold classes on politics and Islam in lieu of teaching their specific subjects. Yet, Islam teaches to do what one is strictly paid for. Spending time devoted to a particular discipline on other issues is tantamount to hypocrisy and venality.

Thesis, partly or entirely, are mostly obtained through copy-paste method and edited subsequently with the use of different software. Researches are not carried out in many cases and findings are fabricated. Fictitious interviews are conducted and only on paper visits are made.

When it comes to writing of papers in national and international journals, the priority of both students and faculty members is not quality but quantity. They play the numbers game whereby prestige is gained by publishing research papers irrespective of authenticity and originality. While exhibiting professional incompetence, many students switch fields at postgraduate level. Some go for businesses they inherit from their parents, or get irrelevant menial jobs for which they are over-qualified.

Quite frankly, male students are predominantly of the view that female get unfair favours from male teachers when their papers and tests are marked. It seems almost ridiculous but when some female students share the same conviction it gives credence to the argument.

In order to enhance the quality of higher education in the country, many policy changes need to be brought about. Politics should be completely banned on campuses because this is the main distraction for students and a cause of many social evils including violence. Vice chancellors ought to be appointed on merit rather than on political patronage. Lecturers and professors must not be recruited only on the basis of medals and papers published. Their capability for teaching should be given a significant weightage. Environment which encourages creativity and promotes reasoning among students should be explored.

Experiments and practical work in laboratories may be carried out with diligence under supervision of lab assistants with no room for negligence and delinquency. Researches should be performed practically with proper protocols followed, whereas forging of data and plagiarism must be discouraged and duly punished. It would enormously help in drafting quality research papers.

Also, why not make the climate of hostels education friendly by holding seminars on different issues in their premises. It may result in confining students’ attention to positive things. Besides, these hostels should be made cleaned of drugs and other crimes.

The government is wanting in heedfulness concerning university education in the country. Before it’s too late, decisive steps must be taken towards important reforms which are long overdue.