Forget the top 800, KU deserves to be in the top 100 universities of the world!

Published: March 10, 2016
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KU has 21 research institutes; its research cadre ranges from natural sciences, to arts, to social and administrative sciences, and more. PHOTO: MOHAMAMD NOMAN/EXPRESS

There are rare moments when I become proud of my alma-mater. As unfortunate as it may sound, there aren’t many instances where the University of Karachi (KU) is mentioned in an amicable light. So whenever it is mentioned positively, I savour it. I revel in KU’s popularity and I cherish the few moments of spotlight grandeur this university is offered.

Earlier this week, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) – a reputed British ranking agency – revealed that six universities from Pakistan had made it to the top 800 educational institutions around the world. And, lo and behold, KU was one of them. The other five included National University of Sciences and Technology (Nust) Islamabad, Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums), University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Lahore and the University of Lahore.

Naturally, I was ecstatic. And so were fellow KU students, past and present; the response to this news on social media was a testimony of it.

However, while I celebrated this feat, I was also a bit saddened. Why, you might ask? Because having walked on its grounds, I know that this university has so much more to offer. KU could very well have been in the top 500, or the top 300, or – if I may dare to say – even the top 100 universities around the world, if only it were given the administrative support it requires to stand on its feet, undeterred.

You do not believe me? Let’s discuss.

1) It is one of the oldest universities in Pakistan. Which means that most of Pakistan’s earlier intellectuals, leaders and scholars studied from this institution. And seeing how this country’s initial years were somewhat better than its latter ones, we can safely assume that KU was doing something right.

2) It has a vibrant student body, 24,000 strong. And when I say vibrant, I mean it. You will find people from all walks of life; irrespective of class, ethnicity, race, gender or religion. KU is inclusive in the truest sense because it has the ability to cater to everyone. Its ability to host multitudes of people and its meagre fee structure makes it the ideal choice for many Pakistanis. Students from slum areas as well as posh localities sit in the same classrooms, share the same benches, without discord or discomfort. You will find people here from all over Pakistan, and abroad too, having variable ideas and thoughts, all colourfully blending together within its walls.

3) KU has 21 research institutes; its research cadre ranges from natural sciences, to arts, to social and administrative sciences, and more. The sheer number of authentic, first hand researches churned out by this university can be mind-boggling for many. Along with this, it also hosts more than 50 departments and one of the oldest libraries in the country, where manuscripts dating back as late as a hundred years are safely kept and showcased.

4) This university is a member to many international scholarships, associations and educational programs (being the only one from Pakistan, in most cases). Some of these programs include the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the likes.

5) Teachers present here are some of the oldest scholars and educationists in the country. Moreover, many foreigners also make up the faculty list, who are renowned worldwide. The university has intellectual seminars every month and, not to mention, KU certifications are recognised all over the world.

6) KU graduates go places. You can find them in government offices, holding strong positions internationally, working in reputable companies locally, participating in varied fields and variable interests, owning businesses and pushing legislatures, representing Pakistan abroad and continuously breaking the stigma associated with it. In fact, one of KU’s graduates was part of the team which won Pakistan’s second Oscar award, working under Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. What more proof do you want?

While there are many more points that could be added to this list, the idea is not to paint KU as an all-perfect institution. I, like many of my fellow batch-mates and alumni, am not blind to this university’s short-comings. The way this university is managed is disastrous, to say the least. Unregulated student bodies have made its environment violence-induced. The people managing this university’s affairs do not seem to have a direction in mind. The documentation and procedures employed by KU are redundant and need to be computerised and simplified. The real estate is in tatters and it could definitely use a modification.

In short, a lot of work needs to be done.

But my point is, KU has a lot to offer and a lot that needs to be saved. If handled properly and with the right vision, this university has the potential to be named in the top 100 universities of the world. All it needs is a little more direction and dedication, both from the management and local/federal governments.

Therefore, as we celebrate KU’s glory today, let us not be pacified by it. Let’s not think that our work is done and that 800 is good enough. It is not. Not for KU. And we, as its intellectual scions, need to give back to this university after all that it has given to us.

So if you can help in making this institution better, please come forward. If you can teach here, then teach. If you can help in managing the administration better, go right ahead. If you can help deal with the student bodies there, you are most welcome. And, the simplest of all, if you can help redeem KU’s image to Pakistanis and those living abroad, then do it. Talk about how great it can be and what all people can see if they decide to visit it.

This university needs all the help it can get to reach the top.

Do you think the University of Karachi can reach the top 100 list?

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Faiq Lodhi

Faiq Lodhi

A journalism grad and news-buff, his interests include current affairs, arts, literature and social work. He tweets as @FaiqLodhi (twitter.com/FaiqLodhi)

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