Islamabad - Nearly 400 students of Federal Urdu University of Science and Technology on Tuesday boycotted final examinations due to non-recognition of their department by Pakistan Engineering Council, said an official.

Students of electrical engineering department of the university have been demanding recognition of their department for several months.

The students, instead of appearing in the exam, staged a protest outside the examination centre, declaring sitting in examination as meaningless because of non-recognition of their department with the PEC.

“It’s useless to appear in the exam and receive a degree that is not recognised by the PEC,” said Waqas Ahmed, a student of final semester of electrical engineering. The students protested ‘non-serious behaviour’ of the university management, saying that they had conveyed their demands regarding registration of the department a month ago but no action was taken.

Ali Usman, another student, said that a number of meetings had been held between the university administration and the students for recognition of the department but the management failed in resolving the issue. “It’s a longstanding issue and the management was aware about upcoming crises but it took no practical steps,” he said. The protesting students said that the management remained busy in internal rivalries which ruined future of the students. “Future of the students is hanging in balance,” said Ali Uzam, a student.

An official told The Nation that the PEC was not recognising the department as it was not fulfilling the required criteria of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the PEC. “Labs of the department are not well equipped and the building where the department is established is not suitable for such kind of programme,” the official added. He also said that the administration paid no attention to talk with the students and convince them to appear in the exams.

The official added that the PEC had set a condition of shifting the university and the department to a separate building where labs could be established under the HEC criteria. The Urdu University’s Islamabad campus is functional at a rented building owned by WAPDA and the later department has already given final notice to the university to vacate the building.

The official said that the university administration is paying above Rs3 million as rent and was now mulling to shift to another building where the expected rent is nearly Rs10 million.The university with above 5,000 students had acquired its own 81 kanal of land at Kuri Road in 2009 but not a single brick was laid for construction due to heavy financial embezzlements reportedly by the administration. Auditor General Pakistan had also objected to Rs50 million paid for purchasing the land. The official said that the entire bachelor programme students were on protest and the students having passed the previous term were also suffering as they had not been issued PEC number by the council. He said that the PEC had directed the university to hire senior faculty members for the electrical engineering department, a demand that was not fulfilled.

Later, the students and the administration clashed as the management forced them to appear in the exams and end their strike. However, the administration failed in convincing the students.

Meanwhile, additional registrar of the university, Shah G, while talking to The Nation said that the exams were held properly, adding that only the engineering department students did not appear due to non-accreditation of their department. He claimed that the university had fulfilled all other requirements but it still had no building due to which the PEC was not recognising the electrical engineering department. He added that other departments had raised objection for not allowing the construction work in absence of permanent vice chancellor of the university.