GRE condition for PhD canceled | Universities' problems

Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) canceled GRE condition for PhD students
Islamabad, Jan 03: The Academic Council of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) has scrapped the restriction of passing GRE as a necessary requirement for the award of a PhD degree.

The restriction was imposed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) despite the opposition of almost all public sector universities, including the QAU. The condition was opposed by 25 members and only 12 favoured it after a heated debate, while some of the members did not cast their votes.

Another agenda item stipulating 18-credit hours mandatory courses for doctoral students was deferred for the next meeting. The compulsion was imposed by the HEC despite an opposition by universities and the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations.

The meeting recommended a five-day week for classes. A final decision will be taken by the syndicate in this respect. Professor Sky Hawk, director of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisations, informed the meeting that the German government is willing to support PhD students from AJK, Northern Areas and Balochistan for research.

Participants of the meeting offered 'fateha' for the departed souls of QAU Professor Emeritus Dr. A H Dani, Dr. Naseer Ahmad of Mathematics Department and Professor Nasir Mahmood of Administrative Sciences Department.

VCs form group to resolve universities' problems
Islamabad: Vice-chancellors of all government universities of the federal capital have formed a group to resolve the problems of their respective institutions.

This was disclosed by Vice-Chancellor Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) Prof Dr Mehmood-ul-Hasan Butt while addressing a meeting of the General Body of University Welfare Association here.

Giving details of the new-formed group of the VCs, he said it would make consultation on affairs like sending of property tax notices by Capital Development Authority (CDA) to government universities.

He lauded the administration, teachers and students of AIOU for utilising their resources in the best interest of the varsity, adding that work has been started to recommend proposals for the promotion of workers and teachers.

The AIOU VC said that facilities like the welfare of employees, provision of medical facilities after retirement and other amenities are being provided to workers, officers and teachers. He also appreciated the services of those officers, who have retired recently, prayed for their health and prosperity, and hoped these officers would continue facilitating this national institution in the light of their vast experience. On this occasion, VC AIOU Dr Mehmood-ul-Hasan Butt and President Officers Welfare Association Malik Muhammad Munir distributed gifts and shields among the retiring officers. The News

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The student transport quagmire
One of the things by which governments' commitment to education of their citizens can be judged is the policy on student transport which determines accessibility of their people to education.

Here in Islamabad, male students are often seen riding dangerously on the rooftops, footboards and back bumpers of public buses a scene often captured in newspaper photographs and blamed on insufficient public buses and an inefficient public transport.

Male students are also often seen spilling hazardously on the sides and medians of some major roads after school or college trying to catch public transport or hitch a ride home. This problem is most evident on the portion of Islamabad Highway adjoining H-8 sector, which houses a couple of male public educational institutions.

These two scenarios are not only pointers at our failure to inculcate a safety culture in our society but also reflections of the importance (or lack of it) which we attach to education and to our children's future.

The repercussion: the death of a student in a recent hit-and-run accident on Islamabad Highway, apart from many near accidents of the sort daily.

The concerned authorities instead of putting their heads together and solving the transport problem of students, have apparently thrown the ball into the court of the general public. The Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) last week made a civic appeal to motorists to give these students on the roads a lift, their easy travel to and from their educational institutions described as "our responsibility".

Elsewhere abroad, the responsibility for student transport lies with the government. Many countries/states have specific student transport programmes to assist families with education by providing accessibility and easing transport costs, but encouraging the general public to oblige students hitching rides is definitely not one of these initiatives.

In welfare state Britain, public transport is free for all under-18 students and students who are above 18 are entitled 33 per cent discount on public transport fares.

In the Australian state of New South Wales, the School Student Transport Scheme, which provides free travel for school students on rail, bus, ferry and long distance coach services, began decades ago as a way to make sure rural kids get to school but it was later extended to city kids.

The Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) had introduced the Student Transport Programme in 2002 which provides eligible primary, high school and college students with free travel on weekdays.

More recently, the Australian states of Victoria and Northern Territory have also announced plans to make public transport free for all children and full time students.

Bermuda also recently made travel on public buses and ferries free for its students.

The effectiveness of such schemes is of course dependent on reliable and efficient public transport systems.

In North America on the other hand, student transportation is handled by the Student Transportation of America, under which more than 475,000 yellow school buses transport millions of students to and from school each day.

In Islamabad, students studying in government schools and colleges especially primary students and girl school/college students have long benefited from the familiar blue-coloured buses of the school/college bus transport scheme run by the ministry of education.

According to a recent report, over 150 such buses ply in Islamabad under this scheme but over 150 more buses are said to be needed to ensure that most if not all students, especially students from boys' schools and colleges, are also catered to.

At the end of last year, the Islamabad Traffic Police initiated a move to try and solve the student transport problem by holding consultations with the federal territory's education and transport authorities as well as with the administrations of various government colleges, especially those in H-8 and H-9 sectors. Nothing concrete seems to have emerged from these consultations, judging by the ITP's appeal last week to motorists to give students a lift.

Unless more school/college buses are procured for students in boys schools and male colleges or alternatively, more public buses are deployed on the roads, especially on the routes of boys' schools and male colleges, it will be a futile task for the ITP to crack the whip on bus rooftop and footboard travel.

Our students' transport and accessibility problems can only be solved if we are really concerned about the future of our youth and committed to assisting families with education and encouraging our young people to achieve the very best they can. Dawn

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Two students honoured at fifth Intel National Science Olympiad 2009
Peshawar: Two students from Pak-Turk International Schools & Colleges were declared grand winners at the fifth Intel National Science Olympiad 2009 held in Islamabad.

A press release issued by the Turkish international non-governmental organisation Monday said the two winners would represent Pakistan at Nevada, United States in 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

The competition was organised by Intel Education Initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Education where 250 projects of students were found worthy of competing in the national final.

A jury of experts declared Malik Usama and Salahuddin Khan as toppers in the category of the grand winners and both would participate in subsequent US competitions.

It may be added here that the competition organisers had been aiming at encouraging secondary and higher secondary students (9-12) to find solution to global and local challenges of modern life by means of scientific knowledge and inventive insight through such competitions since 2004.

Salahuddin Khan of Pak-Turk institute Peshawar branch was awarded as grand winner in Chemistry category with his project 'Ocean is Precious' while Malik Usama of Khairpur branch for his 'Effects of Mixed Culture' project.

Intel ISEF is a global convention of 1,200 students from 40 countries. The competitions were held to seek innovative and positive scientific solutions to global problems. Intel ISEF distributes more than 900 awards amounting to $3 million.

Khyber Medical University (KMU) announced BSc results'
Peshawar: The Khyber Medical University (KMU) has announced annual results for BSc (Part-II) examinations. A notification issued here Monday said 19 out of 24 students were declared successful, while the overall result was 79.20 per cent. Saima, a student of the Pakistan Institute of Community Ophthalmology, topped the examination obtaining 519 marks out of 640. Muhammad Arshad stood 2nd with 486 marks and Asmatullah grabbed 3rd position by securing 484. The News

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