Dual Degree Programme is the vision of Dr Junaid Zaidi

Kindly throw light on your education and achievements.

I started my career as lecturer at University of Balochistan. Later on, I went to the US for studying PhD. By profession, I am a Petroleum Geologist.  In 2007, Dr Junaid Zaidi, the Rector of the university, requested me to start Earth Sciences Programme in Abbotabad. I established the project and when the project started running, I was asked to lead the Dual Degree Programme in Lahore.

As far as my family background is concerned, my father, Dr Muhammad Abdul Qayyum, was the first Science PhD in Pakistan, after the partition of the Subcontinent. The Government of India had awarded him a scholarship.

What are your major achievements?

As a professor, I usually tell my students that God has promised to give us food but has not promised to give us knowledge. So, one has to seek knowledge and that is what I have been doing. Besides, I supervised two PhDs, seven M.S and taught two thousand students nationwide. The establishment of Earth Sciences Institute is my latest achievement.

What is the Dual Degree Programme?

The Dual Degree Programme is the vision of Dr Junaid Zaidi. Actually, what is being practised in Pakistan in the last 60 years is to send our talented students abroad. After that, we kept thinking how can we reverse the brain drain.

Ultimately, this idea came out and the idea is that if we could bring here their standard rather than sending our students abroad for higher studies. That is the concept to bring a well-reputed standard of a foreign university to Pakistan.

So we are trying our level best to disseminate standard education. Through this initiative, I hope we will be able to halt the process of brain drain.

When was Dual Degree Programme launched?

The first admission in Dual Degree Programme was registered in 2010. That was the first semester which we started on the 20th of September, 2010.

What is the success rate of this new project?

If we talk about the strength of the students we have 93 students. We had been expecting 125 students.

How can an average student afford such a high fee?

The fee structure is higher if we compare the degree programme in Pakistan. As we are awarding Lancaster University’s degree, we should compare fee structure internationally.

If a student goes to Lancaster for Engineering, Telecommunication or Business Administration, he/she will spend about 10 million rupees. And we are giving the same four years degree here. The total cost is around 1.4 million rupee.

What will be the job opportunities for the students seeking Dual Degree Programme?

There will be ample job opportunities in Pakistan but I will take other perspective. What I have been promoting is that we are imparting knowledge and giving trainings to the candidates. We are training them to be job creators and not job seekers.

That’s why we are teaching them entrepreneurship along with their education. After the successful completion of the degree, they will not be asking their parents to help till they find a reasonable job. We are training them how to establish their own business.

Is there any institution offering the same degree?

Yes, there are various institutions offering different courses. But their offer is to send their students abroad for completing the degree. But we do not extend such offers. We do not provide visas.

We usually tell the students that we are training you that will be sufficient to get you the visa of any country which you would like.

What is the standard of education at your campus?   

The agreement which we have concluded with the Lancaster University clearly states that we will do the teaching part but the evaluation will be done by the University. So we send all the answer sheets assessed by the relevant teachers to Lancaster and they re-evaluate it. Then, whatever weaknesses appear, they will let us know.

On the other hand, if one asks about the standard of education at Lancaster University it is ranked 6th in the UK. There are certain specialties at the Lancaster Department of Physics which is ranked 11th world wide including North America.

In the past many years, we have seen revolution in emerging private colleges and universities. What do you think where the standard of education lies?
The latest statistics shows that we have 17 million young population between the age of 18 and 24. It means that a huge human resource is present in Pakistan. And it is tragedy with us that we do not know what to do and how to deal with them. Such strength can not be cashed in on if they are not trained properly and equipped with modern scientific techniques.

So, these institutions are the requirement of the time. I still believe that we need double institutions (one foreign and one domestic) as we have right at the moment.

How can we reform our educational sector?

We can compare education to a chair having three legs. One leg is the cost, second is the quality and third is the excess. Let me explain how it works. For example if we increase the cost other two legs will go down and the price table will not be stable.

Secondly, if we increase the number of students that is also known as access then again we will be experiencing. So if we are to enhance the access, we will have to increase the cost. The same is the case with quality. If we increase the quality we will have to increase the cost and decrease the access.

Resultantly, all these pillars should be treated equally. Whenever, there is an imbalance, for example, if I admit there are five thousand students in one semester at this campus then there will not be any quality. No doubt, earning cost will be increased but quality will go down. In short, there should be a balance among cost, access and quality.

Any Message

My message is quite simple and that is read and use your mind. Secondly, the internet, TV and games have destroyed our young generation. The internet has provided ready-cooked material and our youth have stopped thinking critically. That’s why our creativity is being smothered. So use your time in productive activities.

By: Dr Muhammad Ahmed Farooqui

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