Prof. Dr. Masoom Khan Yasinzai Vice Chancellor Quaid-i- Azam University, Islamabad
After doing his PhD, he came back and started teaching at the University of Balochistan and spent 30 years over there. He served at various positions including the post of Vice Chancellor University of Balochistan. Then he was appointed as Vice Chancellor Quaid-i-Azam University, but he is still a faculty member of University of Balochistan.
JWT: What was your vision for ‘Quaid-i-Azam University’ when you joined as Vice Chancellor of the University and what are your major achievements?
DMK: As you know Quaid-i-Azam University is a premier national university. In fact, it is the symbol of federation of Pakistan because its process of admissions contains reserved quota of seats for all the provinces of Pakistan. That is why here one can find a student from Turbat and another student from Gilgit at a time studying in the same class room. In addition, I would say Quaid-i-Azam University is the best place for the projection of the agenda of inter-provincial harmony in true letter and spirit.
Therefore, my vision for the Quaid-i-Azam University as a vice chancellor is that I want to give a chance and access to all the meritorious students from every corner of the country to complete their education irrespective of the fact whether they can afford the education or not. If they can afford their education, it’s fine, but if they cannot afford then the University will support them.
Another important thing of Quaid-i-Azam University is it’s very good base of research. As the universities play an important role in the progress and development of a country, so my vision for the university is to build Pakistan stronger and higher.
It means that the university would equip the youth with scientific and research based education which would be instrumental in socio-economic uplift of the country.
Major Achievements: Actually, the tasks which I set for myself in this University will have a long-term effects in the coming years. So, at first I started from the faculty of Social Sciences where I promoted the inter-disciplinary approach which is the most important thing in my opinion.
Previously, there was only a departmental structure in Quaid-i-Azam University. Therefore, I established four schools in the faculty of Social sciences. These are the School of Economics, the School of Management Sciences, the School of Politics and Int’l Relations and the School of Law. For instance the school of politics and international relation has introduced a master degree programme in political science and another programme in political science and another programme namely public policy and governance will be launched soon.
Similarly, in the School of Law we are introducing some inter-disciplinary subjects so that students studying in this school can get the best knowledge. In fact, this school system will produce best graduates and these graduates will tackle the social challenges effectively. Thus, this school system is going to pave the way of University-society partnership and University-industry partnership; and in this way ‘academia’ would be able to play its role more effectively instead of just teaching the students and giving them degrees.
JWT: Being top University of Pakistan and 1st Pakistani University which ranked on 69th position among the top 100 Universities all over the world; what are the distinguished features of Quaid-i-Azam University?
DMK: When we talk about Quaid-i-Azam University then I would say the most distinguished feature is the research base of our University. In fact, we got this prestigious ranking i.e. (69th position among world’s top 100 universities) because of our research productivity which itself is honour for the whole country.
Moreover, those subjects which are linked with the engineering sciences like mathematics, our physics is very strong, our chemistry and electronics is extremely strong. Therefore, our strength lies in our research productivity and actually, it comes when you introduce the ‘research culture’ in the University.
JWT: As you know Balochistan is far behind in education in comparison to other provinces but it is not be hind in terms of ‘talent’. What steps have you taken as vice chancellor to encourage the ‘talent’ of Balochistan?
DMK: I was born as Balochistani, I grew up as Balochistani no matter today I am here but my heart is still there. As a matter of fact, it is always in my mind that what I can do for Balochistan, to bring education in Balochistan at least at par to the other provinces.
So, during my two years tenure as vice chancellor of University of Balochistan I tried my level best to accomplish one mission i.e. establishment of two Universities in Balochistan, one in Turbat and another in Loralai.
Once in a fine morning I went to Turbat and there I visited a girls’ degree college. There were 1500 students but they had no chairs to sit.
On that day I realized that as educationists we should take education at the door step of those who cannot move towards the far-flung areas for education; because of their social and financial problems. That is why, I am grateful to the government of Pakistan as they agreed to establish the Universities. Funds for this purpose have been released. I am very hopeful that setting up of these two Universities will change the education scenario of Balochistan.
Moreover, while I am here, I am trying to attract the talented students of Balochistan. For this, I have signed the MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with two Universities of Balochistan for the enrollment of teachers in M.Phil and PhD programmes. On the other hand, we have already increased the numbers of seats reserved for Balochistan in various disciplines.
JWT: What are your views on the devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC)?
DMK: We must be aware of one thing that devolution is part of our constitution because 18th amendment is also part of our constitution and no one can deny that.
Well, I am not against devolution, but in my opinion the devolution in certain ministries and departments should be taken stepwise. This process is being taken to produce good results which can be beneficial for the people; but if it brings certain challenges which are going to be faced by the provinces, then we cannot get any benefit.
So, my point of view is that before devolving the HEC to the provinces, first of all build the capacity of provinces by strengthening regional offices of HEC, and by giving them certain powers. They should take care of the universities located in their respective areas and universities should also be strengthened.
Similarly, within three to five years you can devolve everything to the provinces and then they will be able to take up this challenge. However, if we do it in a haphazard manner or in a hurry, then this devolution is not going to yield the desired results.
DMK: I think you should ask this question from the officials responsible for the allocation of budget instead of asking any VC. In fact, currently we are spending less than two per cent of our GDP for education, if we raise it up to four per cent at least then it would be a respectable figure and it can produce a lot. And then we can bring it at par with the other regional countries by increasing gradually. Moreover, I would like to say that education is like oxygen for a nation. If we do not concentrate on education sector then Pakistan will never be able to progress.