Why I chose Karachi University

Published: October 22, 2013
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KU is like a mini Karachi, where people from all walks of life come together and strive to learn. PHOTO: FILES

KU is like a mini Karachi, where people from all walks of life come together and strive to learn. PHOTO: FILES KU is like a mini Karachi, where people from all walks of life come together and strive to learn. PHOTO: FILES

Karachi University (KU) is to Karachi what Karachi is to Pakistan. I was the first member of my family to attend KU for a Bachelors degree and even after completing four years at the institution, I still get concerned queries from people wanting to know how I survived.

It seems strange to me that KU appears like such a distant and uncharted territory to those who have never studied there; it is as if people from KU are aliens!

Hence, I thought that I would shed some light on this mini universe for those who have never been here and who have no idea what they missed out on by choosing other universities over KU.

Getting a ‘lift’

Yes, asking random people to drop you off at a certain distance is exactly what I mean by ‘lift’.

Before coming to KU, I had only heard about taking a ‘lift’ in Bollywood movies. I would never ask for one on the streets of Karachi because it is just not safe. However, you see in KU, the size of the humongous campus can make it difficult to travel on foot, especially during the summer time. Therefore, asking for a lift is very common in the university premises. In fact, it is a routine phenomenon in KU.

Yet, it took me a while to learn the correct technique of hitching a ride on campus. When I was a new student here, I would just wave at every other car that came my way, but then I realised that the trick was to just stand and wait, until a kind soul would halt his/her car and offer you a ride.

It is almost like having our personal chariots on campus to take us from the gate to the department and vice versa.

The diversity

Burqa-clad girls and bearded boys are just one segment of students on campus. The campus is home to people belonging to a range of strata, coming from different walks of life and various neighbourhoods of Karachi including the posh areas. Moreover, studying at KU invariably gives you the chance to interact with foreign students – Turkish, Iranian, Kenyan and even Nigerian. This, in itself, speaks volumes about how amazing this institute is. Simply put, KU is diversity personified – from financial background to age and ethnicity; you can find all kinds of people under the same roof.

Let me ask you how many universities you know that offer admissions to visually-impaired students? You guessed it right – hardly any. However, KU does, and it was in KU that I first met my visually-impaired friend.

The political activism

KU is infamous for the political activities which take place on campus. From clashes to rallies, the student wings of different political parties can raise havoc in the university.

However, this has a positive side as well – it represents the true spirit of Karachi. If you are not aware of the political dynamics which surround this city and how to manoeuvre these divides carefully, then you cannot be a true Karachiite.

KU recognises that and helps the youth come out of the bubble and face the reality of their city. Being a pampered middle-class person myself, I only came to understand the real politics around me after I got admission in KU.

The street culture

Eating at dhaabas and sitting on the floor; donkey cart rides and cheering for your department’s cricket team at the top of your lungs – KU is the place to be if you thrive in adopting the street culture of this city.

Prem Gali (Lover’s Lane), fondly referred to as PG, is KU’s own little food street, famous for its small potato samosas and other culinary delights. We have Sufi’s Dhabba which offers scrumptious, local Pakistani food. Food, interestingly enough, is not the only speciality offered at Sufi’s. True to its name, it provides the perfect setting for all our spiritual musings and gives one the platform to connect with nature, amidst which this restaurant operates.

The facilities

I won’t exaggerate and say that KU provides the best quality education available. However, for the fee that it charges, KU gives more than expected. From digital libraries with all the latest and up-to-date research journals, to the main library which houses books ranging over a hundred years, KU has it all.

The teachers

KU’s main asset is its teachers. The qualification of these teachers, enhanced by their understanding of the subjects they teach beyond the binds of academic books, is what makes most classes addictive. I won’t say that all teachers have the same ‘magic’, but many do and this is what makes this institute far better than others.

Moreover, the relationship we have with our teachers is ideal for university culture; it is causal and invigorating, not intimidating and foreboding. Teachers at KU teach more than just academics; they teach us about the real world, about our role in society and about how we should strive for goals which could potentially bring betterment to all of us.

In essence, KU teachers educate students about life and all its shades.

Hence, my friends, if you are uncertain about whether to go to KU or not, I hope I have answered your questions! Whatever it is, enjoy university life and work as hard as you can. Pakistan needs bright minds.

Narjis.Fatema

Narjis Fatema

A student of Mass Communication at Karachi University who Tweets @Narjis_Fatema (twitter.com/Narjis_Fatema)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sane

    The environment overall in KU is conducive for HULLA GULLA, but not for education at all.Recommend

  • brb

    “However,
    this has a positive side as well – it represents the true spirit of
    Karachi. If you are not aware of the political dynamics which surround
    this city and how to manoeuvre these divides carefully, then you cannot
    be a true Karachiite.”

    If you find this so-called “divide” of this university anything to be proud of, I have some really bad news for you lady.

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – KrishnamurtiRecommend

  • SBH

    Amazing post. Made me nostalgic.
    I love and miss my alma mater. No matter how poorly equipped
    our department was, no matter how many hardships we had to face in a public
    sector university -from running errands to get our forms submitted and endorsed
    in a typical sarkari idara fashion, the place actually made me what I am today.
    Prior to joining KU, I was a pampered girl who could have never even imagined
    travelling across Karachi alone, unaided!

    And I am indebted to the university because had it not been there to admit middle class students like me I would have ended up doing my B.A. privately or from a girls’ college. KU made me learn how to be practical. How to be self-reliant. How to debate in a class of 250 students, how to argue with people with opposing viewpoints, without hurling personal attacks on them. It helped me interact with people from diverse backgrounds. People coming from different areas of Karachi. The institution helped me get rid of the stereotypes I earlier had about people belonging to different geographical locations.

    It was only because of KU that I learnt to travel by public transport, go to the library on my own and study (without my parents telling me to) and meeting some of the best teachers on campus. Not only teachers, but some brilliant students, who (unlike popular belief) studied from ordinary gali muhallah schools of Karachi.

    Honestly speaking, I have had interaction with people belonging to top-notch business schools in Pakistan and though they may be ahead of us in terms of their analytical skills and exposure, they terribly lack the necessities that one has to learn to lead an independent life – independent of parental supervision, independent of the fear of facing political clashes on campus, and independent of baap ka paisa lol.

    I love the place and I will always be indebted to it for honing my skills and inducing confidence in me.

    P.S.
    That’s my personal experience. I am sure my last paragraph would make a lot of people uncomfortable, but no need to take things so personally.Recommend

  • Zaman

    The only way KU is different from any Pakistani University is that it has been hijacked by goon from warring political parties. Hey wait!!!! Yes its different. It gave away an honors doctorate degree to Dr. Rehman Malik. CheersRecommend

  • Rakshinda

    I am sorry, if you have visited other universities then you wouldn’t say the same. I mean yes, your blog post is good and it sends positive vibes to those who have been affiliated with KU or wish to study there but that does not justify hiding the bad side of this institution.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    good for youRecommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Studying in Karachi University is a waste of time and money. No employer recognizes its degree.Recommend

  • Zoya

    Haters gonna hate.
    Thumbs up ! :DRecommend

  • AZ

    Do you also know that the students and teachers protested against gifting him that degree and it was later taken back? I guess not and yes that what makes KU different everybody here can have a opinion so cheers :)Recommend

  • Asad Khan

    “I won’t exaggerate and say that KU provides the best quality education
    available. However, for the fee that it charges, KU gives more than
    expected. From digital libraries with all the latest and up-to-date
    research journals, to the main library which houses books ranging over a
    hundred years, KU has it all.”

    ..seriously, sister, what is your benchmark of “quality” and “more than expected”, the masses & prospective students what to know.Recommend

  • Asad Khan

    …well that is entirely untrue.Recommend

  • shizra

    Mr. Kirshnamurti her point is that one gets to learn to face the society as it is!Recommend

  • nudrat arshad

    beautifully written!!!!! It reminded my KU life…Missed all..This what KU is…Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Ku is a government university so I guess you don’t waste too much of your money over there and there are some departments that are in a much better state like UBITRecommend

  • Ahmed

    I really like the samosas of PG and yes everyday I also take a lift !Recommend

  • A-Fellow-Mass Comm-Student

    Forget the whole university, have you been TAUGHT in the mass communication department. I mean do we even have a course there?

    A-Frustrated-Mass-Comm-StudentRecommend

  • M. Atif Nadeem

    That’s not true dear. You have to learn yourself if you want to do something in your life. University is just a place where you find notes. If involve in other matters instead of learning and studying then probably you said that KU is just a wastage of time and money.Recommend

  • AamAwam

    Honestly. Thank you for highlighting all of this.
    And to the rest let me point out some important aspects for you. Karachi University is not less than any private university.
    The problem lies with the corporate. Its bias and its prejudice and lack of confidence in the students. They have made a mind set that a KUrian wont be able to live upto their standards which is what is creating problems!
    I am graduating this year and already have landed a job. But for it I had to work twice as much as any private university student would.
    I had to complete my bachelors in evening. And work and intern in the morning and literally beg at offices for one chance. After my completion I always got job offers but that wasn’t my goal then
    This isnt just my story its story of most of us.
    Corporate has been really bias and have showed no concern for us. The top notch companies who claim to be very FAIR, excused my friend from final interview and clearly said we pitch for private universities.
    The only thing where Karachi University is behind is that its students mostly are from middle class backgrounds and hence the lack of faith.
    Give us half the amount of support you give to private students and then you’ll see what exactly a student passed out from Karachi university is capable of.Recommend

  • Peter Pan

    I was at KU from 1959 to 1963. During this period the University moved to its new campus. Several of my class mates ended as world class scientists. Some joined the World Bank. Not many got intot he Civil service because fo the quota system but the world is a large place and they got alternative opportunities.
    Nice to se that the tradition lives on!Recommend

  • Haris

    nicely written.. though mentioning of KU serving as a marriage bureau to few and presence and experience with Rangers would have made this an even better write-up..
    a nice effort nonetheless!!!!!!Recommend

  • Sakina Kavi

    No wonder KU has a bad side too. Theres a lot that KU students go through. But have you wondered, why is KU the only institute offering courses that all the other pvt sector institutions (Yes i am generalizing) find worthless to invest in? Dyu know how much do we pay per semester for tuition fees in the arts dept? less than 3000/6 months and it gets lesser with every year! Can you expect any of the pvt sector/money making institutions to charge their students that less? Yet you see KU students everywhere, in every profession doing just as good! – only one word, RESPECT!Recommend

  • SBH

    Really? Few examples.

    The Editor of ET Mr Kamal Siddiqui is a KU grad and also teaches there.

    Nadeem F. Paracha, a well-known columnist for Dawn is a KU political science graduate.

    The News International editor, Mr. Amir Zia is a KU grad.

    And you say no employer recognises the degree?Recommend

  • Yawar Abbas

    Well Written. This article has all you need to know before joining the institution or commenting on this institution after listening to the things which have been said about KU.
    This article is truly “All about KU” :)Recommend

  • Yawar Abbas

    I am a pass out from KU and most of my batch mates are getting better pay then the grads from reknowned private institutes !
    100% of my batch mates were employed just after 3 months of graduation man !Recommend

  • Asad Khan

    …that is it, renowned (Specialized), is the name of the game

    a graduate from Yale is much more sought after than a graduate from Connecticut state university but it does not necessarily means that Public Sector is useless.

    2 + 2 is remain 4 in IBA as it remains in KU Business School. The Name give you Prestige + Connection + Confidence + Alumna

    However, there is a dire need of improvement in Karachi University, right now the KU environment is like a Gandhi Garden park. Rickshas + Girls walking walking + Countless Canteens + Litter flying etc.

    The KU was at it best when Abdul Wahab was VC.

    regards,Recommend

  • Parvez

    That was a fun read.Recommend

  • Kamran

    MashaAllah! KU needs these types of posts and news to our new generation.. Some crap pvt. universities give money to our media to show off wrong rumors about Karachi University..!Recommend

  • Nida’s Beauty Bag

    Such a lovely post… I am a Kurian and proudly say this..
    learned alot from this university.Recommend

  • http://www.captainjohann.blogspot.com/ captainjohann samuhanand

    A very interesting take on University life.Hope it gathers strength to strength and leads Pakistani nation with students like you.Recommend

  • Faizan

    Waste of money… Most of the top management employees of MNC are K.U graduates not IBA graduates.. Till 1994 K.U awarded degree to IBA..Recommend

  • Sakhi Asif Weer

    I am a student of Sociology in Karachi University. Indeed a great write up but i can not agree with some of your description about the UOK. What do you mean by diversity ? just a set of mind from different area living together ? Does the accept each others ? okay lets say there is diversity, where is pluralism? i still remember the very first day where a group of people came to me by saying that why you are sitting here ?? this is lobby (Sitting place of APMSO) .After spending few days in UOK i came to know that the University is divided in many parts like Jamiat stand,PSF stand,APMSO stand, ISO stand and BNSO stand. the question arise here is where can a patriotic man will sit ?? Teachers them self are involved in political parties. Worst examination and marking system in the word.
    we are having very wrong lesson from this University. Indeed we need to ban the political parties activities inside the campus. There are many more things that i can not share here but at last,not the least thanks for your nice words about the university.Recommend

  • Sakhi Asif Weer
  • Sami Khan

    aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh……………….. what else except UBIT <3 Karachi University roxxxxxxxxxxxxRecommend

  • Hira Masood

    Ahh it is a mini Khi! seriously this is my all time favorite one liner intro of KU! There is still so much to say about studying at KU.
    One cannot miss Pharmacy canteen. The baraat of points moving to their destinies in all areas of Khi! The juice center at terminal. Book Fairs. 14th Aug celebrations with full rain to be the cherry on the top!The independence chowk formerly known as check post. Strong teachers/seniors/Juniors relationship. The hectic of Admin block. Long struggles for the membership of Mehmud Hussain Library. Late hours Labs…So Much!! :DRecommend

  • adil

    All are true about K.U. thanks :-)Recommend

  • Naveed Ali

    sorry. but this content is not mature enough to find place in ET. either change the title to ‘KU kay ATTRIBUTES’ or write something above the caliber of teens.Recommend

  • Varda Gabriel Arain

    Hats off to you such a great peace of writing, I am also a pass out from Jamia karachi and I miss it like anything! Its like my second home, i have learned alot from KU it not only provides a quality education but also did my social development. it was a treat reading your blog and remembering all those things i have enjoyed..the lift,eating at dhaba, siting anywhere on road,eating fries from VS canteen,the famous food street PG, waiting for friends at SJ, organizing picnic and events with “mutual understanding with political parties”,untiring walks,cricket tournaments and yet we managed to study with all these activities :) in short “Jamia Karachi gives life to education”.Recommend

  • musab kazi

    behtreeen :) k.u zindabadRecommend

  • Parvez

    In my view its the university’s job to provide an enabling environments to obtain an education……..now if the student wishes hulla-gulla, then the student is more to blame than the university.
    I am talking very generally as I have no exposure to KU.Recommend

  • Shahrukh Hassan

    If only this article had some pictures of the places you mentioned!!! Recommend

  • The Patriot

    Well written and I do agree to most of what you wrote. But please, political parties having strong influence in any university should not be supported at all. It, in fact, is a disgrace. Those goons put the lives of students in danger just to get an upper hand in the campus and the people who suffer in the end are the students themselves. There are no positives to this. Understanding the politics of your city in no way justifies the existence of political activism in the university. They are just making a mockery of our education system. Foreigners who are studying in KU must have a bad impression about the city too because those political goons show them exactly what they see and listen to on the media. Nevertheless, it was a good read. My 5 minutes weren’t wasted. Keep up the good work and keep promoting our beloved Pakistan my friends.Recommend

  • The Patriot

    But does that justify the existence of political parties in a university?Recommend

  • The Patriot

    Hard work always pays off. Keep up the good work and best of luck!Recommend

  • rebel

    the existence of political parties in universities was given a free hand by the post 2008 government by lifting the ban on student political activities, and KU is not the only university to have student politics. Many universities, belonging to both public and private sector, have students in political parties, and with good reason, too. If you’re against the presence of political parties in universities, how can you expect to have students who are politically aware and active citizens of the state?
    or would you rather do away with political parties altogether?Recommend

  • rebel

    OK so ive read all the comments, and granted, some complaints do hold water. KU is not the best university in the world, or even in Asia. nobody ever claimed it was. what we are talking about is the comparison of the education provided with the fees .

    A lot of people here complained that a KU degree doesn’t get you a job. Thats not true, atleast in my case it wasnt. I did my B.S. in Psychology and was offered my first job even before i graduated, and that too in a multinational organization. The same goes for most of my classmates ( except the ones who chose to get married first) and as of now, most of the students from my batch are gainfully employed. I am a KU graduate (2011) and come from a family of KU graduates (all of whom got admitted on merit seats, all of whom studied in different departments of the arts/humanities faculty and…surprise, surprise…all of whom hold government posts of 18th grade or above in the Federal government).

    As for the “KU degree isnt recognised anywhere ” issue, i can only wonder that if the degree was’nt recognised internationally, would we be having scholars from the Erasmus-Mundus (EU’s scholarship) program in the STUDENT body? Yes, thats right. KU has EM scholars in the student body who CHOOSE to go there .

    Alongwith an illustrious past, KU has an alumni list which includes people ranging from Parveen Shakir, to Qaiser Bengali and Altaf Hussain. That is sufficient to show that people of all backgrounds have walked through the Silver Jubilee gate, and continue to do so. i personally know the HODs of two different well-reputed business schools who are KU graduates themselves.

    Is KU perfect? no. Is it almost perfect? not by a long shot. there is politics and the proverbial “pawwa” at every level, the red-tapism is suicide-inducing, the campus looks like something out of an old western movie, there is negative influence of political parties, the sanitary conditions are nightmarish, electricity is subject to the whims of the KESC, assessment and teaching methods of some teachers are better suited to the middle-ages, the office staff alternates between manic and depressive phase, security is non-existent and “phaddas” are daily matters.

    In spite of this, as far as my knowledge goes, KU deals with 25,000 (regular) students on a daily basis. It has its own cricket, hockey and football grounds, the students have access to worldwide journals via the LEJ digital library, some truly passionate and learned teachers and huge campus grounds (complete with its own haunted house, astrophysics tower and zoology museum). More importantly, almost 70% of the students are females who get a genuine opportunity to gain a university education and actually contribute to the national progress, instead of going the “shadi-roti-bachey” route due to lack of finances. Did i mention the girls there also have opportunity to learn martial arts,and that too for free?

    All this and a 4 year education for a roundabout figure of 40,000 rs. Not bad, huh?

    PS: This article was sent to me by a classmate who is currently studying in a private business school in Islamabad (paying almost Rs 100,000 per year) and still thinks KU was a much better university. Silly girl.Recommend

  • az

    For all the critics, the writer isn’t saying KU is the best uni in Karachi. What she’s trying to say is that it’s not a complete waste of space either. just like anyone outside of Karachi believes the city to be ‘loot-maar’ and nothing else, people who don’t know students from KU believe it to be completely useless.
    The quality of education varies from department to department, KU has some subjects that a lot of uni’s don’t offer and the quality vs affordability ratio is pretty damn awsm and most importantly KU is (shocked?) internationally recognised unlike some private uni

    For a hardworker simply getting access to resources is enough. Imagine a KU student paying 10,000 per year and reading plenty of books and being engaged with the subject while an private uni student pays twice as much but does not avail any of the resources and is constantly last in class. Who is better?
    Ofcourse KU has plenty of faults but our entire education system is flawed and slowly but surely people are trying to revise and improve. Employers should hire on merit not on name of uniRecommend

  • Hasan Umar

    Thanks a ton for writing this article.You made me nostalgic.I miss Karachi University and my life at Karachi University.I remember that in my Final Year I used to say to my friends that once I get out from this University I won’t ever come to see this university again in my life bla bla bla and now I miss it like hell.
    The famous Prem Gali aka PG,Juice Corner,Food Science Canteen,Luqmiyan(small samosay).
    Karachi University gave me confidence in dealing with people around me otherwise I was quite a reserved person.
    I wish I can fly back to that time again……Recommend