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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, on Wednesday, showed concern regarding the lowering of the COMSATS University’s world ranking.

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology was briefed in detail on functions and working of COMSATS University, its campuses and staff and the under construction Quetta Campus.

The Committee was also updated on the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

Chaired by Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen, the meeting was attended by Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai, and senior officers of the ministry along with all concerned.

The committee members observed that the university bought controversial land for new Abbottabad campus as it is laying on a fault line.

The concerns were endorsed by the university officials during the committee meeting.

The reports of the survey of Pakistan for the university land are negative.

The land purchased for the campus has ditches, said committee members and asked what are the purpose of purchasing land on a fault line.

If the campus is built, the lives of students will be endangered, the committee members observed.

Abbottabad’s old campus is on lease and needs to be vacated, officials said, adding that the WWF has issued a five-year notice to vacate the campus.

Deliberating over the functions of the university the Committee was informed of the seven campuses across Pakistan.

Members were of the view that the university must establish campuses in rural settings, so that students in those areas may benefit as well.

The Committee recommended that provincial quota may be implemented in COMSATS and that students from Balochistan may be given special quota in admissions.

It also showed concern regarding the lowering of the university’s world ranking.

Regarding staff promotions, the Committee expressed its reservations regarding delay by the Selection Board.

Reasons are to be submitted to the committee.

Discussing the various projects that the university has been involved with, the Committee stressed the need for COMSATS University to focus on sustainable energy projects.

Reviewing business development initiatives, the Committee was informed that 129 companies have been enrolled at the Student Start Up Business Centre to-date.

Regarding research projects, it was known that funding is carried out through different funding agencies.

For the fiscal year 2020-21, a total of 11 projects worth Rs91.75 million have be approved.

The university won the 3G Research Excellence Award 2018 and 2019.

Discussing recruitment and placements, the Committee directed that COMSATS University share its recruitment policy with the Committee.

It also stressed the need for ensuring that Balochistan is included in the divisible pool.

The Committee was informed that 1,450 scholarships were awarded to students this year Rs31,829,000 have been disbursed.

Scholarships have also been awarded to students by the HEC under the EHSAAS Program.

Discussing the establishment of the COMSATS University Campus in Quetta, the Committee was informed that an enrolment of almost 3,500 students was expected.

The university aims to provide higher education facilities to students from Quetta, Pishin, Ziarat, Mastung, and Chagi.

A feasibility study was conducted and was shared with HEC in June, 2016; followed by submission of PC-I. The proposed duration of completion is 48 months. The project has been approved by the Board of Governors of COMSATS Institute in January, 2016. The project awaits approval of competent quarters. It was recommended that until the campus is up and running, students must be accommodated in campuses in other cities. The Committee directed the Ministry to Coordinate with HEC regarding the establishment of the Quetta Campus and report back in two weeks.

Reviewing the performance of the PEC, the Committee was informed that the PEC is an apex body to regulate the engineering profession including engineering education and practice in Pakistan.

The Committee showed concern regarding the absence of the chairman PEC.

It stressed the need for formulating a rotation policy among provinces for the election of the chairman.

Amendments would be recommended by the committee in this regard.

The Committee was of the view that the PEC must broaden its ambit and include and facilitate professionals that are at the lower rung of the ladder.

It stressed the need for a level playing ground.

Discussing registration of engineers, the Committee showed concern over decreasing number of registrations.

It also directed that domiciles of employees from Balochistan be presented to the Committee.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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