Excerpts from an interview with Vice Chancellor, University of Karachi

Sep 25 - Oct 01, 2000

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) has a long and enviable history. It is still one of the prime business schools enjoying the degree awarding status. Since its inception, it has produced the largest number of graduates due to its long history. Its graduates are working at key positions at local and multinational companies both within and outside Pakistan. To remain at the top, it has been striving hard by adding new courses, increasing the number of full-time faculty members and following the calendar strictly. The efforts by IBA has also given other institutions the strength to follow the calendar and not to complain about unscheduled holidays etc. Another quality found and also groomed in IBA students is the skill to manage the events, seminars and conferences. Even convocations are organized and managed by the students. Such an experience help in building self-confidence, prudent decision making and also working as a team member.

I was entrusted by the Governor to look after the affairs of IBA in the absence of its Director. The Governor of Sindh and Patron has appointed Dr. Javed Ashraf as Dean who is holding position of a professor at a US university. His selection was based on an international advertisement (including internet). He has submitted a comprehensive plan to the Board of Governors headed by Justice Sarwana to further improve the infrastructure and the faculty to improve the quality of outgoing graduates of IBA. The plan seems very promising and include arrangements for higher education and training of faculty members, sending senior faculty members for training to further improve their teaching skills.

The Board of Governors of IBA now meets once a month the practice is being followed since Justice Sarwana has been nominated as its Chairman. The need for holding frequent meetings was realized by him to discuss the pressing issues. The Academic Committee, consisting of seasoned and reputed academicians regularly appraise the curriculum.

Let us accept the fact that the quality of IBA faculty is not all that superior as it should have been. It still has highly qualified and experienced academicians. To compensate for this inadequacy, IBA has a long list of Adjunct Faculty members. This was possible only because a large number of IBA graduates enjoy key positions in the corporate sector and also love to teach at the Alma mater. Since Karachi is the hub of all types of business activities, a number of CEOs and senior professionals also come to teach at IBA. Following the concept of Adjunct faculty also helps the institute to keep its courses up to date, blend theory with real-life experience and case studies.

Not only that most of the IBA graduates, despite time constrains, take active part in the affairs of the institute, they also make contribution towards keeping the curriculum current. IBA received substantial input, both from IBA graduates and other professionals, when it held a conference to upgrade/re-engineer it, the then, curriculum.

I, as Vice Chancellor of University of Karachi, have also realized the need for affiliating some reputed institutions to undertake BBA and information technology programmes. The objective behind such affiliation is to provide students a close-by facility for higher education at an affordable cost. Since the University will be monitoring their course outlines, quality of faculty and infrastructure, it is expected that more students will have access to such programmes.

I believe that the universities and business schools operating in the country must meet a minimum benchmark in terms of infrastructure, quality of faculty and examination procedure. The standard for appraisal of students should also be made a little more stringent to ensure the highest quality of graduates coming out from these institutions.

I have a very strong faith in the upcoming generation. These boys and girls are studious, ready to work for long hours and follow the strict discipline provided they are given the knowledge which can help in improving their skills and earnings. Look at the zest of students to join the education in information technology (IT). They believe that the skill has an instant demand and the potential for growth is enormous in the field. However, some unscrupulous elements may take the advantage by establishing flight-by-night institutions. Therefore, students in general and parents in particular must find out the credentials and affiliation of such institutes before joining or making any payment for fee etc. The substandard institutions as such cannot survive in the long run. The credit rating of corporate entities has become a norm. There should be efforts to formulate some entity which should also undertake rating of business schools.