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Universities play vital role in development of socioeconomic condition of nations

By Naeem Asim

It is good luck of Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and the fruit of the prayers of its students that we are blessed to have an enthusiastic, determined and courageous leadership of Professor Dr Tahir Amin.
Higher educational institutes, particularly the role of university, play a vital role in the development of the socioeconomic condition of nations; and with the passage of time, importance of institutes is increasing for social and economic development; and it is also making sense at national and government level.
Government of Punjab has chosen the internationally famous and kind-hearted personality Prof. Dr. Tahir Amin, for the biggest and most important institution of the region; Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, which is the document of merit policy. Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Tahir Amin holds a degree of M.Sc. in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Later on, he completed his master degree in International Relations from Carlton University, Canada.

He got his PhD in Political Science with a King Faisal Scholarship to study at world’s number one university MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and after that he completed post-doctorate from Harvard University and was the Iqbal Chair at the Cambridge University, UK and here he served as both the researcher and the lecturer for a long time. He has been a chairman in the department of International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and Director at National Institute of Pakistan Studies (NIPS). Prof. Dr. Tahir Amin is the author of four internationally recognized books. He is particularly skilled at Political Theory and the subject of International Relations.
Question: Bahauddin Zakariya University which is considered one of the biggest universities, as a VC after appointment which administrative problems you were to face?
Answer: When I took the charge of this office on October 15, 2015, the university was facing many serious issues like Lahore Sub Campus and distance learning program. “There was a serious unrest among the BZU teachers and staff for not holding syndicate and selection board meetings since long. I resolved all above mentioned issues, settled distance learning programme and Lahore sub campus disputes and put the varsity on path of progress,” he explained proudly. Question: what are your constructive steps to increase its ranking and make it international level university?
Answer: Strict enforcement of merit policy and promotion of research will makeitan international level university. The students are encouraged to revive their friendship with the book. I have asked the faculty to focus on their actual duty of teaching and research. “We’ve created a research-oriented environment in the camps and all resources are being provided to the researchers.
Question: what steps have been taken by the university, foreseeing the current alarming security concerns?
Answer: The BZU administration got installed barbed wire on 13-kilometer long boundary wall of the university, CCTV cameras and search lights besides construction of two latest entry gates in view of security concerns. He added that a state-of-the-art control room has been set up and the security guards have been provided with modern arms besides training.
Question: During 1.5 years of your appointment as VC, which challenges did you face and how did you overcome?
Answer: Over 12 Selection Board Meetings were held during this tenure to make up shortage of teachers and over 200 teachers and officers were selected on merit. It was due to his efforts that BZU was ranked among top five universities of Pakistan while Times ranked BZU 805th among top 900 world universities. Three consecutive convocations took place during this era besides holding of 18 international conferences. All pressure groups were eliminated from the university and free and fair Senate as well as Syndicate elections were conducted.
Question: What role was played to enhance the capacity building of the faculty?
Answer: I drew faculty’s attention towards their actual task teaching and research. Provided them research grant and with HECs collaboration, arranged faculty training programs after 2 months. Workshops were arranged on research methodologies which enhanced their capacity building. BZU has set up ORIC department in collaboration of HEC to promote research and held seminars and workshops on regular basis.
Question: Except educational and research activities which steps did you take to solve the university administrative problems?
Answer: University employees and officers were made punctual, they were also motivated to work honestly and dedicatedly. Tasks were divided and assigned according to the suitability of the available human resource. The concept of Division of Labour was implemented in true spirit in different department which enhanced the quality of work.
Question: What steps are being taken to reduce the budget deficit of the University?
The university did not increase tuition fee this year and instead took other steps to increase its income. “For instance, we’ve tried to boost our income through agriculture farm and Engineering College lab. We’ve also set up an endowment fund to cut down budgetary deficit and promote research”. Its another objective is to provide support needy students in future and financial aid will also be provided to the faculty members to enhance their research expertise. Financial support will also be provided if the faculty members go to present research papers internationally.
Question: With which institutes have the collaboration been made for educational and research activities?
Answer: For academic and research activities I’ve established the office of ORIC with special cooperation of HEC; that helped in promoting research culture and improved the quality of research. After the establishment of ORIC, regular workshops and seminars were conducted for the faculty and a business incubation centre has also been set up by the BZU while MoUs have been signed with many local and international universities. MoU was also signed this year between Department of Islamic Studies and International Islamic University, Islamabad to promote research in Islamic Studies. Centre for International Studies was also established with the aim to promote research at international level. Such centers are also working in the leading universities of the world like MIT and Harvard. The National Research Program for University (NRPU) accepted 27 research projects submitted by BZU teachers in 2017-18 while a Centre for International Studies had been set up to promote research on international affairs.
Question: What steps have you taken to promote modern technology?
Answer: BZU is going to become the first public sector university of Pakistan to introduce machine readable card system for the students and faculty. BZU is also the first public sector university which set up an online PhD directory. “We’ve introduced online admission system to save resources, time and energies spent on publication of prospectus. Similarly, online registration system for BA and MA examinations has also been introduced”.
Question: What steps have you taken to restrict different sorts of irregularities in the university?
Answer: I always preferred merit policy and tried to do every work as per university rules and regulations. Stringent steps have taken to ensure transparency in financial affairs. “The biggest example is allotment of canteens and photocopier shops through open auction. In past, these canteens were given to blue-eyed people against few thousand rupees. This step has increased varsity’s income considerably.”

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