NED 22nd convocation – Over 2,000 NED graduates awarded degrees
Karachi: Proud students in black gowns and graduation hats with only the different colour borders of their hoods setting them apart posing to capture the significant moment in time in pictures, family members fixing their hats or ties, in the case of boys, the band playing national song tunes … and life moves forward without the former (late) vice chancellor of NED University of Engineering and Technology, Abul Kalam.
“It was indeed an honour for me to take over this prestigious job from my predecessor [late] Engr Abul Kalam, the longest serving vice chancellor of the university. During his more than 16-year service, he took the university to unparalleled heights. To continue from where he had left was no doubt a challenging task for me,” said Prof Dr M. Afzal Haque, the seventh vice chancellor of the university while presenting the VC’s report at their 22nd convocation here on Wednesday.
Speaking about the university’s financial problems, the VC said: “NED is a public-sector university which is highly dependent on grants of the Higher Education Commission and the government of Sindh besides the income earned from tuition-related fees and funds from self-finance schemes, which partially subsidise our research and development activities. Since the financial year 2007-2008, the incessant increase in operational expenses mainly due to increases in salaries and pension fund announced on a perpetual basis by both the federal and provincial governments, the exorbitant increase in utility charges and unabated inflation have widened the gap between the cash inflows and cash outflows leaving a yearly deficit of around Rs500 million.
“The accumulated liabilities of the university have crossed Rs1.5 billion and our efforts to make it sustainable in future will go in vain if we don’t get a bailout package of Rs1.5 billion. I appeal to the relevant quarters of the government, corporate sector and philanthropists to consider our request for extending financial assistance to enable us to continue our work,” he said.
Later, while congratulating the students, Dr Abdul Wahab, president of Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, who was also present on the occasion, said that they had done the country proud. “Pakistan is a more desirous place to live with your capabilities and qualifications,” he said.
Sindh’s Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, who was presiding over the convocation, said that he was glad to be doing so at the institution which had refused him admission when he was a pre-engineering student. To the students he said: “Today you students and your parents are the beautiful colours of this university. Pakistan is in good hands to have professionals like you. For your professionalism and expertise merit will be respected. Go make a name for your university as you serve your country.”
In response to the VC’s appeal for financial support, he said: “We will do our utmost to help you out of your financial problems. Sindh is proud to have NED University.”
Meanwhile, 1,702 students qualified to earn bachelor’s degrees in 20 disciplines at the undergraduate level and 307 graduates earned master’s degrees at the postgraduate level. It was also announced that from 2014, NED had opened its doctoral programme to all eligible candidates. Previously this programme was restricted to faculty members only.
Students and parents
“I’m overcome by emotion at not seeing our former VC Abul Kalam at this convocation. My last convocation after completing bachelor’s was in 2011 and he was there then. Who could have known that he would no longer be here at this convocation,” said Mariam Batool who completed her master’s in telecommunications.
“Maybe the former VC took NED to such great heights that it is impossible to climb any further,” said M. Saad with his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in hand. “But frankly, I think the former VC worked more on NED’s infrastructure while Dr Haque is more involved in academics.”
“Our programmes in Engr Abul Kalam’s time used to be pre-planned to perfection but today we have witnessed much chaos while getting here,” said Faryal Yasir, a fresh bachelor’s in computer information systems.
An exasperated parent thought that the university had asked the students to pay too much for the convocation. “We already pay a good amount as fees for our children’s education and we live to see the day when they receive their degrees, but making us pay through our nose to be able to do that is not fair,” she said, adding that the basic fee for attending the convocation with two parents was Rs3,500 for each student. “Then the students also had to pay Rs1,900 for a gown of which Rs1,400 would be refunded if they returned it. Also they are charging Rs5,000 per parent if any of us wants to attend the convocation dinner later.”
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