COVID-19: University of Karachi removes financial burden from students by deferring fees

Karachi: The University of Karachi (KU) – one of the biggest public sector universities in Pakistan – has undertaken an unprecedented act of generosity by deferring the receipt of fee from thousands of its students in the coronavirus-affected spring semester of this year so that they don’t face any interruption in their pursuit to get higher education.

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The KU-having around 43,000 students getting higher education in 54 teaching departments and 23 research institutes-made this decision in the best interest of the students despite facing deficit running into billions of rupees to meet its annual expenditure.

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The KU has to rely on funding both from federally run Higher Education Commission and Sindh government to meet its expenditures.

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Middle-income families

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“During this situation of COVID-19, we haven’t put any financial burden on our students as foremost thing we did in the previous semester was 100 per cent waiver of the late fee fine,” said the KU’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Mahmood Iraqi during the conversation with the Gulf News.

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He said that financial shortcoming faced by the family of any of the KU’s student during the pandemic didn’t hinder his or her plan to get higher education.

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“The students who were not able to pay their fee in the last semester, we didn’t bother them by deferring their fee to the next semester,” he said.

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The KU collects around Rs 800 million fees during a semester as still it has to collect Rs 222.680 million from its students who didn’t pay the fee in the previous semester.

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“The situation hasn’t changed much as we collect fee in this fall semester,” said Dr Iraqi.

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Assistive technology

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The KU last year did a pioneering work by allowing its visually impaired students to appear in the examinations using the assistive technology.

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“Before the adoption of this reform, the visually impaired students had to appear in the exams with another student with lesser academic qualification who writes answers on behalf of the special exam candidate. But the idea was not attractive to such students who didn’t get the opportunity to solve the question paper first-hand,” said the KU’s VC.

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He said that assistive technology had been successfully introduced in the university’s exams since last year allowing around 32 visually impaired students of the KU to avail this facility.

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Majority of these students are enrolled in departments of Computer Science, English, and International Relations.

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He said the Academic Council of the university last year had duly incorporated the provision in the exam rules allowing the use of technology for the KU’s differently abled students.

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Online classes

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The VC said the commencement of online classes by the KU after the anti-coronavirus lockdown was a major challenge given the large number of students studying in different faculties.

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“We undertook training of around 65 master trainers belonging to different departments to train rest of the faculty to impart online education,” he said.

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He said the KU had successfully completed the previous semester through online education.

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He said the KU had also conducted its supplementary exams using the online mode.

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“We are once again imparting online education in this semester as hopefully we are able to do it in a much better way given our experience of the last semester,” he said.

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Dr Iraqi said the trust related to the Dawoodi Bohra community had been funding the construction of the new building of the KU’s School of Law on two acres land on the campus.

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He said the KU had availed the philanthropic support under its vision to allow the mechanism of public-private partnership to provide maximum opportunities of higher education to the deserving students.

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