Multan-Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Vice Chancellor Dr Tahir Ameen expressed concerns over the poor performances of Pakistani university as they have got no place among the top 500 varsities of the world.

This is a serious issue of concern for the country, he said and added that the faculty lacks dedication and the educational institutions lack international academic culture. With regard to BZU, he said that the varsity has come out of crises it faced due to NAB cases against former VC and Registrar. He added that the initiatives like induction of new faculty, promotion of research activities, implementation of rotation policy and separation of faculty members from administrative tasks will bring it among the top ranking institutions of Pakistan very soon.

“We’ve changed the leadership and introduced a healthy research and academic culture. We’ve given the varsity a positive direction,” he added while talking to The Nation in an exclusive interview. He pointed out that not even a single Pakistani university got place among world’s top 500 varsities, saying it was a serious issue of concern for the country.

“It is because of multiple issues. Our varsities have an invert approach as a result of which our professors are oblivious of the work being done by their international counterparts. The faculty lacks dedication and the institutions lack international academic culture,” he further explained.

Recalling the time when he joined BZU, the VC said that the condition of the institution was very poor as the Vice Chancellor and Registrar were wanted to the NAB. “We brought in a totally new team clear of any charges, introduced rotation policy to change department chairmen and made up the shortage of faculty,” he added. He said that the replacement of leadership brought considerable positive change in the culture. He told this scribe that the BZU was short of 52 percent faculty when he took the charge but it was made up through the holding of six simultaneous selection boards. He disclosed that all the departments were asked to hold at least one seminar in a month and invite teachers from other national varsities besides arranging an international conference annually.

Declaring a newly set-up Endowment Fund as a lifeline for the BZU, the VC said that it was launched with a principal amount of Rs220 million . “We’ve talked to Multan Chamber, JICA, USAID and many other donor agencies and they have expressed deep interest in it. The fund will sponsor research and academic activities, establishment of new labs, deserving students and many other heads,” he added.

The VC revealed that the BZU had established an Office of Research Industrialisation and Commercialisation (ORIC) which would help boost research activities with the collaboration of community. He hoped that the ORIC office would bring solutions to the problems being faced by the local community. Citing examples, he said that the Veterinary Science, Engineering, Textile College and many other departments were directed to enhance their engagement with their concerned walks of life in local community. He pointed out that the initiative would benefit the local community through the knowledge sharing.

He declared that the faculty and administration would be separated within next six months to let the faculty members focus on just research and academic activities. “The faculty members might get membership of some administrative committees but their prime job will be research,” he added.

He revealed that the BZU syndicate had approved rehiring of the retired faculty of the varsity. “We’ll rehire the retired professors up to the age of 65 on contract on the same salary. It was a much needed initiative to prevent faculty shortage and to retain good teachers,” he explained.

He disclosed that the BZU had a plan to set up a medical college. “We have resources and space to build this college. The proposal is sent to the government,” he added.

To a query on Lahore sub-campus, he said that 3,500 students had been enrolled at the campus and the court had directed the syndicate to bring a solution to save the future of these students. “We’ll hold an examination of these students and degrees will be given to those who qualify,” he declared. He said that the sub-campus administration was issued a clear direction to refrain from doing new admissions and the campus would be closed down after holding the test of the current students.