MULTAN-Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Tahir Ameen disclosed on Tuesday that he took special initiatives to make up the shortage of faculty which resulted into 21 percent increase in PhD and 13 percent total faculty in just one year.

Giving details of reforms introduced by him in first year of his tenure as VC during an exclusive talk with The Nation, he added that four concurrent meetings of selection board were held during the last one year which resulted in induction of 180 new faculty members. “Our efforts and initiatives have yielded as The Times magazine ranked BZU among world’s top 900 universities besides declaring it a good university of West Asia,” he noted.

The VC further revealed that the varsity has decided to shut down distance learning programme besides shifting the Institute of Social Sciences to the concerned department due to massive irregularities committed by former director Dr Ishaq Fani. “The existing students of the distance learning programme will be given relief under one time dispensation formula but no other new admission will be made to this programme. Besides, all the financial benefits to everyone from this programme have also been stopped,” he added.

He said that the hiring of people on daily wages badly harmed the varsity. “I stopped this practice right after taking charge and this initiative has started delivering positive results,” he added. He said that the revival of Yousuf Raza Gilani foreign scholarships is another big achievement and he succeeded to get revived 43 scholarships. He said that the BZU Syndicate convened for record four times in his one year period to decide 163 items, Advanced Studies and Selection Board four times to decide 438 items while 95 PhD and 275 MPhil Scholars as well as 6,244 graduates received their degrees in convocation held in March 2016. The VC pointed out that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and other professional bodies awarded or renewed the accreditation of departments and programmes while five national and international conferences as well as 46 seminars and workshops took place during one year.

Answering a question, Prof Tahir Ameen revealed that 484 papers of BZU researchers were published in Impact Factor Journals while 137 in X and Y category journals in the year 2015-16. “We’ve accomplished seven research projects of national and international level worth Rs94 million in just one last year,” he added. He said that the HEC approved a proposal sent by the BZU and upgraded Department of Biotechnology into the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.

The VC disclosed that an Endowment Fund worth Rs220 million has been set up by the BZU for granting scholarships to the students, holding international conferences and supporting research-related activities. “Soon we’ll start receiving a sizeable amount as profit of this fund and we’ll be able to grant scholarships to the students in next few months,” he declared. He said that 1,900 scholarships have been granted to the students on the basis of merit by different organizations like PEEF, HEC, USAID and UBL worth millions in the year 2015-16.

Referring to development projects, he said that seven projects worth Rs449.3 million were completed in last one year while as many projects worth Rs280.57 million were still under process. Giving details of projects, he said that three new hostels were completed while three new busses were purchased for students’ transportation. “Keeping in view the law and order situation, we’ve constructed 25 watch towers, installed barbed wire around 8,000 kanal area, 281 CCTV cameras and floodlights besides giving wireless sets to the security guards,” he added.

Answering a question on the fate of Lahore Campus, he said that the BZU administration had submitted proposals to the syndicate, HEC and HED to resolve the issue. He said that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated in the corruption cases.