An exclusive interview with Dr Zubair Bandukda, President Textile Institute of Pakistan

KHALIL AHMED, Senior Correspondent
Nov 27 - Dec 03, 2006

PAGE: Please tell us something about yourself?

DR BANDUKDA: After completing my high school education from DJ Science College, I proceeded to the UK in 1984 for higher education and completed BSc (Hons) in Textile Technology and PhD in Textile Engineering from University of Manchester's Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST). I returned to Pakistan in 1992 and initially worked for the family textile business for around a year. In early 1994, I was approached by some members of APTMA who were setting up an institute in Karachi and invited me to join Textile Institute of Pakistan with which I have been associated since its inception in various capacities as Assistant Professor, Academic Coordinator and the Dean. Since February 2006 I have been serving as the President of the Institute. I lived in the UK from 2002-05 and worked in the William Lee Innovation Centre, School of Materials, University of Manchester as Knowledge Manager managing two EU-funded projects on training and knowledge creation.

PAGE: How long has TIP been serving the nation?

DR BANDUKDA: TIP was set-up in 1994 and during these 12 years of existence, the institute has made tremendous progress in terms of infrastructure facilities and programme development. To date, TIP has produced 454 graduates in the areas of Textile Science, Textile Management & Marketing and Textile Design Technology. Majority of these graduates are serving the local textile and garment industry, fibre manufacturers, buying houses, textile machinery sales, textile auxiliary's sales and financial institutions.

PAGE: Would you apprise us briefly about each department of TIP?

DR BANDUKDA: Since TIP is a single discipline Institute, we do not have separate departments. We offer the following programmes:

* BSc (Hons) Textile Science

* BSc (Hons) Textile Design Technology

* BBA (Hons) Textile Management & Marketing

* BBA(Hons) Apparel Manufacturing & Merchandising

All our undergraduate programmes are of 4 years (8 semesters) and in fact TIP was one of the very institutes in 1994, which were offering 4 year degrees which have been made mandatory by Higher Education Commission. This has ensured acceptability of TIP students for postgraduate courses in UK, USA and Australia.

PAGE: How would you comment on the recent HEC university ranking?

DR BANDUKDA: HEC has taken many initiatives since its formation with an objective of improving the academic standards of both public and private universities and degree awarding institutes. Ranking of universities is part of this process but as HEC has clarified that these rankings are based on certain premise and hence will always be subject to discussion and criticism. As you know that even in developed countries like USA and UK, various university rankings are done annually and they all come out with different results. I am sure in the years to come HEC will be fine-tuning their ranking system and it will eliminate some of the grey areas. TIP got a fairly good overall ranking but this was mainly due to the excellent infrastructure facilities at our purpose built campus which is spread over 50 acres of land on the outskirts of Karachi. We have a long way to go to be on top of the league in academic terms and we are striving to achieve that level.

PAGE: How many students are enrolled in TIP at present? Do you think that our local market will be able to employ all textile graduates?

DR BANDUKDA: Currently a total of 445 students are enrolled in all four disciplines with about half of them taking up Textile Science and the other half divided almost equally in other three programmes. So far the graduate placement has been almost 100% and there is still a demand for fresh graduates, therefore, we do not see any future problems in placing our graduates in local textile and related industries and businesses.

PAGE: How are TIP graduates different from Textile Engineering graduates?

DR BANDUKDA: TIP is the only institute among all the HEC recognized textile institutes that offers Textile Science rather than Textile Engineering. This was done quite deliberately keeping in mind the needs of our industry. Pakistan is a cotton growing country and has always been a leader in exporting raw cotton and then cotton yarn. The weakest links in our textile sector are product design & development and marketing which the TIP addressed by offering science-based courses rather than a mechanical engineering-based programme. TIP graduates (Texperts as they are known) differ from Textile Engineers in the way that not only do they have a broad knowledge of all the processes involved in textile manufacturing but they also study subjects like business communication, management, marketing, quality management systems, production & operations management and organizational behaviour. This provides a well-rounded education and prepares the students to face different situations in the working environment. TIP was established with a core objective of filling the vacuum of professional middle management within the textile sector and it is heartening to see that our graduates have been able to achieve that in a short span of eight years.

PAGE: Would you brief us about the degree programmes your institute intends to launch in future?

DR BANDUKDA: We are in the consolidation phase and hence there are no immediate plans for offering new degree programmes. However, TIP's Board of Governors is well aware of the fact that for any academic institution to flourish, it must be engaged in research and our medium term plan (3-5 years) is to establish a research centre at TIP which will then help us in postgraduate research studies as well.

PAGE: Nine new engineering universities are being set up in the country? How do you see the textile education in future?

DR BANDUKDA: Engineering education is the key to the development of our country and it will definitely have a positive impact. However, it remains to be seen when these universities become operational because the biggest challenge will be getting the suitably qualified faculty to run the various programmes in these universities. Since the textile industry is dominant, it is clear that textile education will remain the need indeed.

PAGE: Do you think that aspiring students would prefer getting engineering education rather than textile management courses?

DR BANDUKDA: There is no need to draw a line because the industry needs textile engineers, scientists, managers, designers and marketers and I believe that all the various institutes compliment each other rather than indulging in competition. However, I would like to see changes in current textile engineering curriculum to upgrade it to international standards and to incorporate areas such as technical textiles keeping in view the current trends in textile manufacturing.

PAGE: Which discipline in textile education would be in more demand in the days to come?

DR BANDUKDA: As already explained above, all the disciplines are important but if we were to highlight the most significant, I think there is definitely a lot of scope in the marketing of textiles and the disciplines related to value addition like apparel/garment manufacturing.

PAGE: Would you tell us about research activities by the TIP faculty members and students?

DR BANDUKDA: TIP is an undergraduate teaching institution and hence not much research activity is taking place right now. We do have individual faculty members (sometimes involving students) who contribute regularly to textile journals of national level. This is one area we are working on and hopefully in the next few years TIP will be in the forefront conducting some valuable research for our textile industry.

PAGE: A word of advice for the youngsters.

DR BANDUKDA: We live in a 'global village' and it is not sufficient that we have knowledge of our local environment. Whatever career you choose, keep in mind that you should not be worried about competition from within but more aware of the challenges you face from the outside world. With all challenges come opportunities and if you want to be truly successful, you will have to open your mind (and eyes too) and to believe in yourself. I strongly believe that in today's world and in future, it will pay off to be 'jack of all trades' - to be able to adapt quickly to the ever-changing scenario. And finally, whatever you do, do it with conviction.