The higher education system in Pakistan is facing difficulties as faculty members at Karachi University (KU) have declined to provide their services because of outstanding payments for more than a year and accusations of ‘improper behaviour’ of the Vice Chancellor. The resignations that have taken place recently at NUST and the scandal at Islamia University Bahawalpur point to the larger issues that academic institutions grapple with. All these occurrences together emphasise the urgent need for policy changes and backing for the academic community.
The ongoing faculty boycott at Karachi University, coupled with other universities being exposed, is an indication of the deep-rooted issues prevalent in Pakistan’s academic system. The financial difficulties experienced by faculty members, who play a vital role in the operation of academic institutions, are resulting in interruptions in the academic schedule and negatively impacting the reputation of higher education. On top of this, brain drain is on the rise as well. The nation loses crucial expertise which further exacerbates educational challenges and other pressing issues. Higher education institutions in Pakistan lose international recognition because of this exodus of talent.
The issue is made worse by insufficient policies and meagre salary hikes, resulting in discontent, and impeding the ability to retain talented individuals. Additionally, the evident disparity between the privileges enjoyed by the administration and the challenges faced by the faculty highlights the urgent need for extensive reforms in policies, aiming to establish fairness and openness in the realm of higher education.
To deal with the crisis in front of us, it is imperative for the Ministry of Education in Pakistan and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to recognise and consider the issues of brain drain, resignations, scandals, and boycotts. It is crucial to evaluate higher education policy critically, with a particular emphasis on the well-being of faculty members, equitable remuneration, and establishing a supportive atmosphere that fosters academic brilliance. To bring higher education into the modern era, it is essential to prioritise the provision of research funding, fostering partnerships with industries, and enhancing faculty support services.
It is essential to prioritise the welfare of teachers and establish a conducive atmosphere that fosters educational excellence, research, and inventive thinking. If the country wants to maintain its talent and stay competitive on a global scale, these essential reforms are necessary.