University of the Punjab, Lahore

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Thursday, August 17, 2006


Police called to control PU admissions protest: * University relieves ill-equipped NTS of MA/MSc test job * Policemen charge money to guide protestors to the

LAHORE: Punjab University’s (PU) experiment of involving a third party in the 2006-07 admissions came to a head on Tuesday, and police was called to control hundreds of candidates protesting outside the vice chancellor’s office against insufficient admission forms desks and facilities. The university authorities responded promptly and increased the number of desks. An Admissions Committee meeting decided that the university would conduct the tests for MA and MSc admissions for all departments except the Institute of Business and Information Technology, and the Institute of Administrative Sciences. NTS will conduct the admission tests for all undergraduate programmes. The NTS, initiated by COMSATS institute and run by the Higher Education Commission, had insufficient space and facilities at its model town office, according to candidates, despite help by PU. After waiting for hours in unusually long queues, the students began to protest. A number of students also protested outside the vice chancellor’s office on Tuesday, shouting slogans against the new admission system. Admission candidates said policemen were charging money from candidates who arrived from outside Lahore to show them the way to the protest scene. Talking to Daily Times, PU officials said the university had not done its homework for the changeover. Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan said admission candidates would be given better facilities Wednesday onwards. He said it was NTS’ first such initiative, which was why it miscalculated. “The university has realised that the NTS cannot manage,” said the registrar. The NTS executive director briefed the Admission Committee meeting that made the decision, he said. “We regret the inconvenience.” He said police had been called on Tuesday because “political elements” had damaged the NTS office during protests on Monday. The Admission Committee meeting at the New Campus, chaired by Vice Chancellor Lt Gen (r) Arshad Mahmood, decided that the university would conduct MA and MSc admission test for all departments except the Institute of Business and Information Technology and the Institute of Administrative Sciences. NTS would conduct admissions tests for all BA, BSc and honours programmes, for which it would set up four new admission forms counters at the PU College of Pharmacy, Old Campus, the Undergraduate Block, the Institute of Business and Information Technology, and the Institute of Administrative Sciences. The published admissions schedule would be followed, a university statement said. The candidates would be given role number slips on the day of the test and admissions forms would also be available before the tests, it said. Roll number slips already given by the NTS would also be accepted, according to the statement. Forms for MA and MSc are also available on the PU website (www.pu.edu.pk) and photocopies of forms will also be accepted. The statement said qualifying marks in the entry test would be 40 to 50 depending upon the department. It said students would send filled forms to the head of the institute, centre, college or department they were applying to, by registered mail or courier service.The university will pay Rs 300 per candidate to the NTS for conducting and marking the tests and publishing the results. Thousands of admission candidates apply to the university every year. PU has about 70 departments, hundreds of programmes and more than 25,000 enrolled students.
Punjab University Lahore: PU steps in after NTS mess: Entrance test for BA/BSc, MA/MSc

LAHORE; Aug 8: Hundreds of candidates visiting National Testing Service (NTS) offices on the first floor of a plaza in Model Town faced problems while collecting and submitting forms for admission to Punjab University BA/BSc (Honours) and postgraduate programmes.They blamed the university administration for creating a mess by introducing the entrance test system as well as outsourcing the entire exercise (of conducting the entrance test) to a firm which lacked adequate infrastructure to entertain thousands of candidates.Sources told Dawn that the university administration did not assess the NTS plans before outsourcing the entrance test.A large number of candidates, including those coming from other parts of the province, were shocked when they reached the NTS offices on Tuesday as no responsible official was present there to sell and receive forms.Unaware applicants who kept thronging the NTS offices throughout the day were seen arguing with guards and policemen on duty.The NTS officials said they had suspended their service for Tuesday after Monday’s hooliganism by some students who also thrashed policemen on duty.Talking to Dawn, the students said the Punjab University had done a great injustice (to students) by introducing the entrance test and then outsourcing it to a private firm lacking in infrastructure. Most students who had come to obtain or submit admission forms from other cities said the university administration had left them at the mercy of “non-cooperative” NTS officials.Mudassar Ahmad, Irfan and Habibur Rehman, holding form in their hand for submission, said that they had been facing problems at NTS offices for the last three days. They purchased forms after hectic efforts for Rs100 each. Then they faced further trouble for depositing Rs300 entrance test fee with the NTS bank account. They said the bank charged Rs400, adding Rs100 as processing fee.Muhammad Zikriya from Khushab said the university had put an additional financial burden on them by introducing the entrance test. “I paid Rs100 for the form, a similar amount for having a passport size photograph and Rs400 test fee but my ordeal was not yet over.”Staying in Lahore for the last three days, Zikriya said he had spent some Rs2,500 on his meals, stay and travel. “Same is the case with hundreds of other students.”Inside the NTS offices, this correspondent saw hundreds of admission forms (submitted to the NTS) lying unattended in unlocked cupboard as well as on the floor. Some admission forms had also been lying torn apart. An applicant claimed that some candidates had also taken away a number of filed admission forms after getting desperate because of the harsh attitude of NTS officials. “Who will be responsible for the misplaced admission forms?” he asked.Girls also criticised the university as well as NTS officials for putting them in trouble. Sweating in small corridors of the NTS offices, Aysha said the university should explain that why it was conducting BA/BSc exams if it was going to give admission on the basis of the entrance test.Responding to a question that the university had allowed students to download admission forms (for admission to MA/MSc classes) from its website, Aysha said the university website was not accessible.She said that it was her third visit to the NTS offices but every time she was returning without an admission form. She said the NTS should have arranged a proper place for selling and receiving forms or the university should have allowed it to use its premises.An aged woman who had come to collect admission form for her daughter, said the NTS offices were housed in such a locality that she wasted some three hours to reach here. “And now I have been told that the NTS officials have left and nobody is present to sell admission forms,” she lamented.Candidates Sehrish and Farzana said they had been left high and dry as no official was available to attend them. They said the NTS offices’ telephone numbers given in newspaper advertisements were always busy.They also claimed that the NTS officials had also given a room to some people who were asking students to get admission to their academy for preparation of the entrance test. “They are charging Rs3,500 for 10-day crash NTS entrance test preparation.”Security guard Rana Ashfaq told Dawn that he had come to collect NTS officials’ belongings but the students had attacked him as they wanted him to collect the admission forms. “How can I collect admission forms?” he said.NTS head in Lahore Majid Sultan said the students had become unruly when they started distributing admission forms. He said that all the officials left the NTS offices as they, along with police, could not face an unruly mob. He had no answer to a question regarding an inadequate place to attend to a large number of applicants.Following applicants’ complaints and NTS officials’ inability to handle the rush, the PU admission committee meeting chaired by vice-chancellor Arshad Mahmood decided on Tuesday that the entrance test for admission to post-graduate classes would now be conducted by the university itself. The VC said the decision had been taken to “facilitate the candidates seeking admission to its postgraduate classes”.The meeting decided that the NTS would only conduct the test for BA/BSc (Honours) programmes. The meeting also allowed the NTS to set up its stalls at the Institute of Education and Research (IER), Institute of Business and Information Technology (IBIT) and Undergraduate Block on the New Campus and College of Pharmacy on the Old campus from Wednesday (today). The NTS officials were also asked to distribute, from now on, admission forms free of cost.The NTS would hold the entrance test for admission to undergraduate classes at the Divisional Public School, Model Town; Garrison College, Cantt; and the University of Engineering and Technology.The meeting decided that university would conduct the test for MA/MSc programmes on the time and dates already announced in newspapers. The venue will be the PU examination halls on Wahdat Road. Two institutes - Institute of Administative Sciences and Institute of Business and Information technology - will hold the test on their own.The meeting decided to issue roll number slips to postgraduate classes’ candidates on the day of entrance test. However, the roll number slips already issued by the NTS for postgraduate classes’ entrance test would remain valid. Qualifying marks for the entrance test range from 40 to 50 per cent for various departments.The university officials said the admission forms for postgraduate classes entrance test were available on the university website www.pu.edu.pk as well as in national newspapers published along with the admission notice advertisements. Photocopies of these forms would be acceptable. The candidates are required to send their filled-in forms to respective heads of the institutes, centres, colleges and departments through registered mail or courier service.When this correspondent asked a senior university official to log on to the university website, he found that it was not accessible even on the university computers linked up with the `high speed’ Local Area Network.Meanwhile, hundreds of students staged a demonstration in front of PU vice-chancellor’s offices against the university decision of introducing entrance test. They chanted slogans against the university and wanted its administration to abolish the new admission system.PUASA: The Punjab University Academic Staff Association welcomed the university decision of withdrawing its contract for the holding of entrance test for postgraduate classes by the NTS.The PUASA demanded that the university should also withdraw the contract of holding entrance test for undergraduate programmes from the “incompetent” NTS.The association said the university should better revert to the old admission criteria