Urdu varsity still without own building
ISLAMABAD, July 15: Even 10 years after the establishment of the Federal Urdu University, successive governments have failed to allocate funds for the construction of its building.
Set up in 2002, the university with an enrolment of about 3,700 students is running in a rented building owned by Iesco, which now has issued a notice to the institution to vacate it after expiry of the 10-year period.
According to sources, as the number of students is increasing, there is no open space on the premises forcing them to spend most of the time sitting on the stairs, at the entrance and in front of offices.
A professor of the university said the minimum requirement of land for the campus was 80 kanals which the management had purchased in Chak Shahzad. The PC-1, worth Rs830 million, was also prepared for construction of the building with the capacity to accommodate 4,000 students.
“The Higher Education Commission (HEC) paid Rs8 million for construction of the boundary wall but grant for the building could not be released,” he said.
According to the PC-1, the building should have been constructed in three years, he said.
Mohammad Faisal, a student of the university, said the HEC had put the university at No 5 in its ranking which showed that the students were performing well and could do much better if all the facilities were provided to them.
“Because of the congested environment, the students are suffering. There should be proper sitting area, grounds, canteens and other facilities,” he said.
Nawaz Jillani, the public relations officer of the university, said that in 2007 the Pakistan Engineering Council had refused to give accreditation to the university due to which the students launched protests. At that time, the HEC allocated Rs80 million to the university for purchase of equipment but now we have no funds for construction of the building.
He confirmed that Iesco had sent notices to the university to vacate the building but the management had no other alternative.
“We are trying to find a solution to the issue or enter into another agreement with Iesco to remain in the building,” he said.
A faculty member requesting not to be named said the name of the university had become a problem. He claimed that some elements in Karachi did not want the Urdu University to flourish in Islamabad. He added: “We had a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari, who is also the chairman of the university, and raised the issue of funds with him. The president agreed to provide the required amount but later a message was conveyed to us that we have to convince the governor of Sindh for construction of the building. The Sindh governor has noting to do with the Islamabad campus,” he said.
Professor Dr Zahid Saleem, a member of the university management, told Dawn that despite repeated efforts funds could not be allocated for the campus.
“We know that both the students and faculty members are facing problems, so we might go for a public-private partnership to construct the building. But the first priority is to get funds from the government,” he said.
Adviser to HEC Riaz Qureshi said they were not getting funds for development projects due to which a number of projects, including that of the Urdu University, were pending.