Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman confers degrees upon 999 graduates at the 8th UMT Convocation
45 students awarded gold medals
Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, former Federal Minister for Science and Technology and former Chairman, Higher Education Commission, conferred degrees upon 999 graduates at the 8th Convocation of the University of Management and Technology (UMT), Lahore, held on December 1, 2012 at the University campus. Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT, Talat Naseer Pasha, VC University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Dr M D Shami, President Pakistan Academy of Sciences, and Dr Rafique Ahmad, former VC Punjab University, who was the Convocation Chair as well, graced the event with their presence. The Convocation was attended by graduating students and their parents, faculty members, educationists, eminent scholars, representatives of the print and electronic media.
A total of 45 students received various Patron, Rector and sponsor medals on the basis of outstanding academic performance. Mahrukh Ahmad, graduate of the BS Social Sciences program, was awarded the Dr Muhammad Ahmed Gold Medal. The Ahmad Dawood gold medal was awarded to Zoha Hadayat, graduate of the BBA program. The Sardar Muhammad Ghalib medal was awarded to Bilawal Rehman, graduate of the BS electrical engineering program.
Giving an overview of the progress made by the University, Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT, said that although Pakistan is the fifth largest country of the world in terms of population, it has one of the lowest education budgets. He paid glowing tributes to the chief guest Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman for building the infrastructure of higher education and for laying the foundation of science and technology in Pakistan. Dr Hasan said that Dr Atta-ur-Rahman’s time in HEC was the golden period of higher education in Pakistan and it is indeed painful to see now the unraveling of such a great institution devoted to the betterment of the youth of the country. He said that the budget and status of HEC should be restored by the government. The future progress of Pakistan depends on developing mind power rather than anything else.
Presenting an overview of the progress made by UMT over the past year, Dr Hasan said that UMT was the first university in the Punjab to receive highest W4 ranking by the HEC in the Punjab. It is also the first in the Punjab amongst medium sized universities in the general category. The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) permits electrical engineering and industrial engineering programs while the BBA and MBA programs are accredited by the National Business Education Accreditation Council. The National Computer Education Accreditation Council (NCEAC) has accredited the BC Computer Science and Software Engineering programs. Dr Hasan apprised everyone that the business administration programs will soon be accredited by SAQS.
UMT has 300 fulltime faculty members – 50 of these have completed the highest degree in their respective fields. Dr Hasan said that UMT plans to add 100 more faculty members in the coming year to cater for the increasing needs of the students and expansion in academic programs. With more than 5500 students from 70 districts of Pakistan, UMT has a diversified student body encompassing all strata of society. About 10% of UMT students come from overseas. He said the UMT students are here on merit and when they join the corporate sector or any other professional field, they compete on merit.
Elaborating future development goals of the University, Dr Hasan said that civil and mechanical engineering programs would be launched soon. He said that UMT is working towards strengthening the social sciences and plans are in the offing to develop psychology and sociology departments, and upgrade the Center for English Language into an Institute of Communication and Culture. The School of Science and Technology, which has the largest student body, has reached an agreement with the University of Essex whereby UMT students may complete part of their degrees programs there. The School of Law and Policy has entered into an MoU with Boston University for academic collaboration. Recently, an internee from the renowned Max Planck Institute in Germany also completed his internship here. The School of Business and Economics is also working with Harvard Business School.
Dr Hasan said that great attention is given to research and development; UMT researchers have published hundreds of articles in reputed journals.
Dr Hasan added that expansion in infrastructure in already underway. While the new library building has already been completed, a new building for classes and laboratories is under construction and construction of a new admin block will soon start. These new buildings will follow the Moorish and Andalusian architectural tradition.
Delivering the Convocation Address, Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said, “The key to progress lies in the abilities of nations to unleash the creative potential of their youth in order to develop strong knowledge economies.” He added that the quality and efficiency of the interaction between industries, universities and the government determines how a knowledge economy evolves. Pakistan, he said, has a huge demographic advantage: 100 million of its inhabitants out of a total of 180 million are below the age of 19. If the country focuses its policies on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship that create job opportunities for the young in value added sectors, socio economic development will get a boost.
Elaborating on the exponential growth of higher education in Pakistan, Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said that there were only 59 universities and degree awarding institutes in Pakistan in the year 2000. These grew to 137 such institutions by 2010. Pakistan has made tremendous progress in terms of higher education in recent years due to steps taken to improve the quality of education and make it relevant to national needs. These included programs to develop a strong faculty; scholarships for completion of PhD degrees in both local and foreign universities, new system of tenure track appointments and salary raises for faculty members. Several new programs were launched to attract qualified faculty members working in advanced countries to return to Pakistan at lucrative salaries and with liberal research funding. Some 600 such persons came to Pakistan under these programs. The establishment of a nation-wide digital library under the auspices of the Pakistan Education Research Network (PERN) with some 25,000 international journals and 60,000 text books from 220 international publishers is also a significant breakthrough.
These and other such measures led to a sudden surge in university rankings. During the 55 year period between1947 to 2002, not a single university could be ranked among the top 400 of the world in international university rankings. By 2008, several Pakistani universities achieved this yardstick. The research publications in journals with ISI impact factors went through an amazing increase from only about 500 per year in the year 2000 to 6,250 per year by 2011, almost equaling those from India if the output is compared on a per million population basis.
Dr Atta ur Rahman concluded by saying that the rapid progress made in higher education during the last decade proves that a combination of vision, determination and funding can make miracles.
This year 493 participants graduated from the School of Business and Economics (SBE), 223 from the School of Science and Technology (SST), 131 from the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSS&H), 73 from the School of Professional Advancement (SPA) and 79 from the Institute of Audit and Accountancy (IAA).
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