ROLE OF PRIVATE VARSITIES

"Sooner or later, they have to survive on their own" — Dr. Iqbal A. Panhwar

By M.K. Areola
Oct 26 - Nov 01, 1998

Dr. Iqbal A. Panhwar has been associated with the University Grants Commission since 1995 when he joined as Director, looking after the academic, research and training coordination department of the Commission. A post he held till 1997 when he was made Director General, academic, research and training coordination.

Prior to that Dr. Panhwar was a staff member of University of Sindh between 1980 and 1991 where he worked his way up with hardworking and dedication as Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Joint Director, Technical, Associate Professor, Additional Director, Director and Professor.

Dr. Panhwar, an Economist, specialises in conducting agro-economic surveys, baseline surveys, economic analysis, project design, planning, training and implementation, and monitoring evaluation.

As the study leader of socio-economic impact evaluation of LBOD study, Dr. Panhwar has contributed to seasonal agro-economic surveys and special studies on land tenure, labour contribution to OFWM activities and land leveling studies.

In his eleven years association with Sindh Development Studies Centre, SDSC, Dr. Panhwar participated in a large number of surveys undertaken by the centre and also involved as a Principal Investigator of two PCRWR/USAID projects, namely "An Investigation of Small Farmers' Responses to Programmes of Watercourse Improvement", and "Cost Benefit Analysis of Irrigation from private Tubewells compared to that from Watercourses."

Recently, he was involved as an agricultural economist in studies entitled "Action Research Programme in Water Management for Pak-Swiss Swabi Irrigated Agriculture Project", in NWFP and "Devising ways and means for promoting agricultural development in the Project Area of Left Bank Outfall Drain ".

He has also undertaken consulting assignments for the Overseas Development Administration (ODA), Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), The World Bank (IDA), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Higher Education for Development Cooperation (HEDCO-Ireland) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

A doctorate degree holder in Agricultural Economics, Dr. Panhwar was a part of the Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) team for the Malakand Fruit and Vegetable Project, NWFP and has to his credit over twenty four years of teaching experience and more than 40 published research reports on agri-economics, irrigation and drainage economics, agricultural credit and economic development.

As the Director General, University Grants Commission, Dr. Panhwar spoke to PAGE about the role of private universities in the development of business education in the country.

The private universities will not take over the public ones though they have their role to play in the country but the later's role will remain higher than the former. "With the public sector to manage, the importance of the public sector universities will not reduce and with the increasing demand of the private universities, the role of the public ones will remain" he said

According to Dr. Panhwar, while the private sector higher institutions in the country charge fee on commercial basis, the fees charged by the public institutions are fixed and therefore they are allowed to raise 35 per cent of their revenue.

He said that the external examinations being conducted by the public universities is a huge source of revenue for them while the private ones have not been allowed to venture into conducting external examinations.

Comparing what is known by the private universities as "executive programmes" and the public universities "external examination" Dr. Panhwar said that both are something different and can not be compared with one another .

The Director General, said that the University Grants Commission has a liberal policy towards the private universities and at present some of these institutions located in the Southern part of the country have been assessed and about ten of these institutions have been awarded 'No Objection Certificate' by UGC while five more are still in the pipeline.

According to him, while the University Grants Commission is not a regulatory body to check dubious universities, the UGC is now taking keen interest in the activities of these privately managed universities. The UGC has prepared a standard proforma to be filled by all the private universities planning to register with the Commission.

The information in the proforma include general questions that parents of would-be students are generally interested to know such as the financial stability of the institute, what happen to the university in case of recession and what are the fixed assets of the university.

Other information include the number of permanent and part-time faculty, the availability of library, labs and other necessary facilities in the campus. It also look into the management's serious plan to have their own building or sufficient area for activities.

Talking about the growing need of business education in the country, Dr. Panhwar said that not only is the need for business education is growing, other sectors such as computer, engineering and medicine are growing too "but the growth cannot be assessed by few discipline".

For the private sector's role, "they will organise efforts towards where there is more demand", the learned professor said.

Talking about the funding of the public universities in the country which is decreasing every year, Dr. Panhwar said "Sooner or later, they have to survive on their own".