NO CRUNCH IN EMPLOYMENT MARKET

INTERVIEW: DIRECTOR BAHRIA UNIVERSITY

TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI (tariqsaeedi@hotmail.com)
Nov 17 - 23, 2008

Global economic crisis has rendered sever losses to banking and financial system and mitigated the chances for academic graduates to get hold of their job places as massive retrenchment has vacancies refilled by seniors confronted with wave of attrition. A market survey showed that grads from colleges in USA felt adversely fallouts of regression, in Wall Street, that left no place for college grads in the employment market swarmed with layoffs and despondent but experienced chaps who were all set to replenish appearing job positions.

Despite clouds of depression hovering above the Pakistan's economy, notion that services especially financial and banking sector wards smartly off wave of global recession epidemic is verified by a veteran educationist who vehemently denies that economic crisis shut down doors of employment market for graduates of professional disciplines of management and computer sciences. In prospect too he sees a minor probability of it.

"Rather, I am asked by a renowned bank for fresh grads for induction," says Captain (R) Ashfaq Agha, Director Bahria University, Karachi campus. "Staff of a foreign bank, recently started its branch operation in Pakistan, is 60 percent constituted by the students of Bahria. In addition, it is looking for further recruitments", informs Ashfaq Agha during an informative Q&A session with Page. So as such there is no crunch in the employment market for business grads. He said employment ratio-induction in percentage of grads-of Bahria University is 80 percent.

The total numbers of students in both Karachi and Islamabad campuses of the university are 7000. When he joined the Karachi campus as a director, he said, back in end of 2006, there were only 1700 students studying in different departments and 'now this figure is almost double to 3000 out of which 52 percent comprises of female'. The university was chartered in year 2000 and it is a public sector university. Out of its 230 faculty members 196 is permanent. Karachi campus has been deployed a wi-fi system through which altogether 250 students can connect to internet.

He said in order to transform the society higher learning students should engage in part time jobs while studying. They must dig up own sources of financing their studies rather than depending on familial props.

He is critical to common inclination of employers towards a grads flock of a particular university or institute. Advertisement mentioning a name of a university in job criteria is ethically wrong and a sheer prejudice, he says and adds without on-job assessment efficiency of a candidate is unfounded.

As a signatory of global network that drives higher education to contribute in social and economic development, the university promotes exchanges of knowledge amongst corporate and opinion leaders through organization of seminars, conferences, and guest speakers sessions. The aim of such regular parleys is to explore, exchange, and discuss developments pertaining to society and economy. These meetings are also aimed at to mull over current issues.

"In fact, guest speaker session has result oriented purpose to take cognizance of basic problems of the industry and get acquaintance with the industrial working procedures in order to conduct, for instance, problem solving research, results of which may lead to innovative remedies to hurdles in procedures. Unfortunately, corporations have not been candid in sharing information with us, they are scared of sharing data", he answered candidly when asked objective of guest speaker session.

The importance of research and development is undeniable. For conducting a research there needs to have essential preliminary data without which any probe will be directionless. Every issue should be discussed in the university. Pakistanis are very talented.

A staunch believer of hard working, he entitles work holism as his key to success in life but has faith over destiny also. 'The more you work hard, the more you luckier.' As a nation we have a common characteristic of puling legs of others instead of trying to progress. People are fond of climbing the ladder of success through personal relationship. He related top government official wheedled him for academic support but he always declined.

Holding an honorary vice-chairpersonship of the Bahria University, he owes his coming to education field to his wife who, he thinks, was the real motivation. He himself wanted to attach with the future of the nation. By coming to the education sector, he feels, he is with the future. Following retirement from the Pakistan Navy, as his first exposure to the sector, he was appointed as a registrar of Hamdard University in year 2005. Since his holding the stewardship of a campus, five international conferences have been organized.

He introduced degree course of pharmaceutical business management. Behind introduction of weekend study programs, he had intention to let students excel while doing jobs. Although target markets of offered programs are middle or upper middle classes, he says "if candidate fulfills admission criteria, his inability to pay fees is not considered". 'The philosophy of the university is to retain competent candidates even if they are cash strapped. We are trying to provide opportunity to needy students'. In last two years the university has funded Rs20 million for scholarships and financial assistance for studies.

About the university's future plans, he said by January 2009 medical and dental college in the Karachi campus would start its operation. Furthermore, construction on five-storied lab block, which will have computer, engineering, and environmental laboratories, is underway. Confirmation of Pakistan engineering council accreditation of engineering program is due. Presently, 552 students are studying electronics and telecommunication in its engineering department.