Home / Interview / Education budget should be doubled: Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad

Education budget should be doubled: Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad

UMT rector says universities can only function if they are autonomous

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By Ammar Sheikh and Hibra Binte Imran

LAHORE: The budget for education should be doubled as Pakistan has more than 100 million people who are less than 25-year-old; under normal circumstances 4 per cent of the GDP is recommended, but in our situation – because of the large number of under-25 population – it should be 6 per cent, said University of Management and Technology (UMT) Rector Hasan Sohaib Murad during an exclusive interview with The Educationist.

The Educationist: Please tell us about your early life and early education?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I was born in Karachi and then we moved to Dhaka, where I received my education up to class seven. There I studied in three schools, when I was in class eight Pakistan was split into two. So then we moved from Dhaka to Karachi and I joined Delhi School, Karachi. Delhi School was set-up by the alumni of Delhi College, and I received my matriculation and Intermediate education from there. Later, I went to Engineering University Karachi and completed my civil engineering degree. After that I moved to United States and I shifted to business administration and I did my MBA. Later on, I joined University of Wales and completed my PhD there.

The Educationist: Please tell our readers about some of your academic achievements?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I was in top 10 of my MBA class, my GPA was around 3.9. Throughout my life I have always been interested in academics and research, so I have been teaching courses here and since I am also involved in running the university as its rector, therefore I am not allowed to teach more than one course a year. It’s very hard for me to spend time directly on research, but when I teach and I normally teach high-level courses 600-level or 700-level in my area which is management and organisation. My students publish and I make sure that I prepare them enough that they are ready to publish. I have some old research papers on my credit because of the task of institution-building, which is very complex in our environment. So rather than doing research on my own, I am more interested in enabling and facilitating our faculty members and students in research. When I go and teach courses I think I am wasting my time because I feel that if that time is spent on any function of the university, in any department, in any group, I will be able to contribute more.

The Educationist: Sir we’ve learnt that when you completed your doctorate and applied in Punjab University (IAS then IBA) but your application wasn’t entertained. What is the story behind that?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: Yes, I wanted to teach in Punjab University. When I returned from America with my MBA degree there were maybe five or six people with an American MBA and we would meet in various places.  Ahsan Iqbal (Minister of Planning and Development) and I, we both returned from America in the same year and there were like a few others that we knew were MBAs who came back. Those were very good times in America and anybody who was going to America would have stayed there. When I came back, I intended to go back to America or UK for PhD, but I started teaching part time at Hailey College and later I applied in IBA Karachi.
As I wanted to be a faculty member of Punjab University, I had many other offers from companies but I thought my job was teaching. People were very surprised that I had an American MBA and wanted to teach at Punjab University because that was what I wanted to do. Yes I applied at IAS, I don’t know what the reason for my rejection was, and I also later applied in IBA. I received the letter of the selection board two days after it was held. I was told that this also happened. So I was unable to appear in the selection board and I was told that I could come and teach part time, so I was little bit discouraged from Punjab University. Later, I joined the corporate sector to gain experience. I started working at Dawood Group and I got to know a lot of things in Pakistan about the workings of business sector.

The Educationist: How did you establish ILM and then UMT, what was your inspiration behind that?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I spent two years at Dawood Group, so when I was there I saw people working in different departments. I saw that people were not very motivated, I found them lacking in skills and they lacked exposure. I also felt that they needed a lot of training as there was a lot of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the organisation. This prompted me to think of setting up a training institution. One day I went to my director Mr Bashir Dawood and told him that I wanted to establish a training institution for employees. He asked me to prepare a feasibility report and promised to discuss it with the directors. I prepared the feasibility, he presented the feasibility in Dawood Group, but they said that it was not the right time to set up a training institution and said it would be done later.

In South Korea, China and Japan higher education is in their
national language, but we lack good books in our national language

In the summer of 1989, I prepared the feasibility for a training institute and told my MD that I am willing to take my idea forward on my own. He said that it was a very difficult time because the Gulf War just ended and industry was shrinking. He advised me to spend more time at Dawood Group, but I wanted to go ahead and asked him to let me go and parted ways with the Dawood Group. On 16th June I started the ILM project.

The Educationist: How many students, teachers and faculty does UMT have?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: We refer to students as participants. We have 9,000-plus participants and 400 faculty members, out of which 90 are PhDs and about 10-20 PhDs are always engaged from outside. We have a sub-campus in Sialkot and there we have about 1,000 participants. We have a good full time faculty base. Our faculty to student ratio is also very good.

The Educationist: How many degree programmes are being offered at UMT?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: There are a total of 150+ degree programmes; we have completed the formation of departments in the areas of social sciences, management sciences and engineering. Our focus is now in the area of life sciences, medical sciences, bio sciences and we also want to further expand our engineering programmes. We have 5 disciplines and we want to expand to 10 disciplines.

The Educationist: Where do you want to see UMT in the next 5 years?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: We are looking for global prominence and distinction in five years. By global distinction I don’t mean that we will be known globally, it means that we will have global accreditations within 2-3 years. This is not just a certificate, we will undergo a holistic transformation. We will undergo a complete overhaul because by implementing these accreditation procedures and accrediting templates, it will require us to completely turn around the way we work. It will require us to make significant changes, in the ways we teach, what we teach and how we teach. It will be very useful for our students and it will add value to their degrees. If anyone wants to earn a degree which is accredited by European foundation, then one has to spend around £25-30,000 a year. At UMT, that degree would be many times cheaper, so students from Pakistan will be able to access the globally-accredited degree at about 1/4th or 1/6th the cost. This is my target for 2020. We have 5 engineering disciplines and we will add five more. We will have a medical school and 500-bed hospital; and we hope that by 2020 we will have over 300 PhDs.

The Educationist: What are the obstacles and hurdles in your expansion plans?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: You know we are a private-sector institution and we are a not-for-profit, we are also exempted by FBR for the last 25 years and we are one of the largest trusts in Lahore. We are a W4 – highest category – university, which means we can have public funding as well. What I want to say is that the biggest hurdle right now is resources. If the total number of alumni produced by us so far is 50,000 – with bachelors or masters degree – and each one of them is contributing in terms of personal tax of at least 100 thousand rupees each. It means that our students are contributing about 5 billion rupees annually to tax. What I want to say to the government is that they could help us a little more by giving us land and other facilities or just by removing some legal hiccups, so that we can do a lot more for the country. So the biggest hurdle is finance, and I would like to tell the government that it is time that they realized that there were some very good institutions and they should provide help. They should also look at institutions which are doing tremendously good work, and are not from elite groups or not from any leading business groups and extend wholehearted support for these not-for-profits. On the one hand there are very elite institutions, on the other hand there are commercial institutions, we are in the middle; we are neither elite nor commercial. We are, I think, best because we are addressing the needs of the middle class.

The Educationist: Sir there is a perception that UMT is affiliated with Jamat-e-Islami. Is the institution a part of Jamat or affiliated with it or any other political organisation?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: Politics is a part of society and every person has their own opinion and affiliations. There is only one member from Jamat in our board, while the rest are independent, but yes our board members have their own political opinion. But as an institution, Jamat did not invest in UMT, nor Jamat intervenes in our affairs. I never received any advise from them, we work only on professional bases and follow globally-accepted best academic practices. On the other hand, I will also like to add that in United States there are many universities by churches. Catholics have established some very good professional schools in United States, peoples from all faiths Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, go in those institutions to study. I think if there is any affiliation, there is nothing wrong with it and it should be determined that whether the institution is good or not, is it offering good service or not. In our case, all faculty members and students come from all over the country from all states, all religions, we are based on merit.

The Educationist: Sir you teach management science. What do you think are the problems of management in higher education?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I think students should be given some role in governance, students are not consumers or clients they are our stakeholders, they are adults, and they are recipients of education. I think they are proactive learners and they should be given more power in what should be taught, how it should be taught and they should – their representatives or those who are top on merit –be given some room to express their opinion in academic council forums. Right now our model of higher education is authoritative and top down. Governance of higher education is similar to the governance of schools. Higher education should be collaboratively governed by the authorities, faculty, industry, students, some employees and parents; it should be stakeholder-based governance. Right now it is top down, authority-based system and even faculty is not given as much room as there should be. Although faculty representation is at every forum and faculty has a voice, but I would like to see more proactive role of faculty as well as students.

The Educationist: In our education system students come from various backgrounds. Do you think our education system – as a whole – caters to all social levels?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: It does not, to the extent it should. I think public sector is doing very well, it is catering to the poor, the under privileged because they are funded by the government. The private sector has limitations, but they are doing as much as possible. Out of our 9,000-plus students, about 3,000 students are receiving some kind of merit on need-based scholarship. There is a huge problem of residence of students who are from other cities and come for education to larger cities like Lahore and Karachi. Students are living off-campus in places that are not right for them. The Turkish government has built a lot of hostels for students, so that they may go anywhere in town but they can live on-campus. It is the government’s job to provide student housing. If the government provides housing, students will feel secure and it will be good for their careers and for their character development. If students are left to make their own arrangements they will fall into many traps, especially girls and boys who just came from rural areas.

The Educationist: Many students come from Urdu medium schools and almost all courses at universities are in English. What are your views on this?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: This is something where I think students need to work because the medium of higher education should be English. I wish courses were in Urdu, but unless the government prepares textbooks in Urdu it is not possible. In South Korea, China and Japan higher education is in their national language, but we lack good books in our national language. I suggest that students are adults, they are fast learners, learning a language is not a big problem. They can pick up a new language in 6 months. It’s just that they have to attempt. In my times – when I was a student – in order to understand the pronunciation we had only two ways: BBC or Voice of America. Their transmissions aired late at night and I would listen to Voice of America and BBC to learn English. So that was the only choice then, there was no other way to hear an American speaking or a British speaking. Now there are several channels for films and news but still there are students whose pronunciation is bad. They are not listening properly and they are not learning properly. In my time there was only Dawn newspaper and that was expensive, we would buy Dawn to read and to learn the language. Now Newyork Times is available for Rs 20. You can get Newyork Times in your homes and there are so many other journals, so I think it is the inability or disinterest that is more of a problem than any other thing. Our students should know that in order to succeed in their professional lives, they have to be very good in English. They should read books, newspapers and journals to master the language.

The Educationist: The national and provincial budgets are being announced and there is a consensus that the education budget is very meagre. What would you suggest to the government?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: Every year we talk about this, I think there is some improvement in the education budget. I would specially acknowledge the very good schemes introduced by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the scholarships to study in Pakistan and abroad. The Danish school is also a good initiative. Scholarships are being awarded on merit base. There are many students in our university who are studying because of these scholarships, but teachers – school and college teachers – in Pakistan are not paid properly. The rule should be that a teacher teaching in a school or a locality should be paid enough that he could live in the same locality. If a teacher is teaching in Model Town, then the teacher should be living in Model Town. In my time our school teachers were living where we were living and we would interact with them in our neighbourhood. Now the living standard of teachers has drastically gone down. Teachers’ salaries should be increased; it should at least be doubled, especially for school teachers. The government has increased their salaries, but the minimum salary is Rs 12,000 and it should be increased to at least Rs 20-25,000. On the budget, I would just add that the budget for education should be doubled. We have more than 100 million people who are less than 25-year-old. We have such a huge resource of people and under normal circumstances 4 per cent of the GDP is recommended, but in our situation – because of the large number of under-25 population – it should be 6 per cent. A person who fails to get enrolled, who doesn’t get education, and has reached the age of 18-20 years, that person would be dependent on others. If we want to be a self-reliant nation, we have to have self-reliant families and for that our budget for education should be 5-6 per cent. Government has the money, and people will pay more taxes when they see services delivered to them at their doorsteps. When they see that their children are studying for free, they get free books, they get free uniforms, everyone has free transport to school, then people will pay taxes. We have the lowest tax to GNP ratio because we have the lowest services.
When Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were finalised, the idea was that if any country needed money to achieve an MDG it would not just depend on its own budget. They would get the money from the MDG fund. So it was an open cheque written by the world and resources were not an excuse any more. Almost 90% of the countries have achieved the MDGs. Very few failed and Pakistan is one of these countries. The problem was not money, it was bad governance and lack of priorities. It is very shameful that Pakistan has reached 2015 and is still unable to achieve the MDGs.

The Educationist: What are your views on the establishment of provincial higher education commission (HEC)?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I think this is a very good decision. Prof Dr Nizzamuddin is a learned man. He has served as the vice chancellor of the University of Gujrat and the varsity has made good progress under his leadership. He has some good ideas for higher education and we will support him. It would take a lot of effort, but I think he is capable of the job. I also hope that there will be understanding between the federal HEC and the provincial HEC, and both will join hands and work together. The controversy, however, is that the chief minister would become powerful and take all major decisions, such as the recruitment of vice chancellors. I think that’s why public sector universities were not supporting the ideas. In my opinion, we should learn from our experiences and we should give autonomy to universities. Universities can only function if they are autonomous. As I said earlier, universities can only function if they are governed by faculty and not the bureaucracy. I want faculty governance, I want students to have more voice and more say.

The Educationist: Sir do you have any message for our readers?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I highly appreciate this initiative (The Educationist) and I think it will create an independent forum for cross fertilisation of ideas of how to run higher education. As for those who are at the helm of affairs and also the government are concerned it will help them deal with higher education issues and help formulate policies in higher education. It would be good for students and faculty as well because I think this forum would become a forum of exchange of ideas and thoughts and good practices.

Teachers’ salaries should be increased; at least be doubled, especially for schoolteachers

want to say to the government is that they could help us a little more by giving us land and other facilities or just by removing some legal hiccups, so that we can do a lot more for the country. So the biggest hurdle is finance, and I would like to tell the government that it is time that they realized that there were some very good institutions and they should provide help. They should also look at institutions which are doing tremendously good work, and are not from elite groups or not from any leading business groups and extend wholehearted support for these not-for-profits. On the one hand there are very elite institutions, on the other hand there are commercial institutions, we are in the middle; we are neither elite nor commercial. We are, I think, best because we are addressing the needs of the middle class.

The Educationist: Sir there is a perception that UMT is affiliated with Jamat-e-Islami. Is the institution a part of Jamat or affiliated with it or any other political organisation?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: Politics is a part of society and every person has their own opinion and affiliations. There is only one member from Jamat in our board, while the rest are independent, but yes our board members have their own political opinion. But as an institution, Jamat did not invest in UMT, nor Jamat intervenes in our affairs. I never received any advise from them, we work only on professional bases and follow globally-accepted best academic practices. On the other hand, I will also like to add that in United States there are many universities by churches. Catholics have established some very good professional schools in United States, peoples from all faiths Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, go in those institutions to study. I think if there is any affiliation, there is nothing wrong with it and it should be determined that whether the institution is good or not, is it offering good service or not. In our case, all faculty members and students come from all over the country from all states, all religions, we are based on merit.

The Educationist: Sir you teach management science. What do you think are the problems of management in higher education?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I think students should be given some role in governance, students are not consumers or clients they are our stakeholders, they are adults, and they are recipients of education. I think they are proactive learners and they should be given more power in what should be taught, how it should be taught and they should – their representatives or those who are top on merit –be given some room to express their opinion in academic council forums. Right now our model of higher education is authoritative and top down. Governance of higher education is similar to the governance of schools. Higher education should be collaboratively governed by the authorities, faculty, industry, students, some employees and parents; it should be stakeholder-based governance. Right now it is top down, authority-based system and even faculty is not given as much room as there should be. Although faculty representation is at every forum and faculty has a voice, but I would like to see more proactive role of faculty as well as students.

The Educationist: In our education system students come from various backgrounds. Do you think our education system – as a whole – caters to all social levels?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: It does not, to the extent it should. I think public sector is doing very well, it is catering to the poor, the under privileged because they are funded by the government. The private sector has limitations, but they are doing as much as possible. Out of our 9,000-plus students, about 3,000 students are receiving some kind of merit on need-based scholarship. There is a huge problem of residence of students who are from other cities and come for education to larger cities like Lahore and Karachi. Students are living off-campus in places that are not right for them. The Turkish government has built a lot of hostels for students, so that they may go anywhere in town but they can live on-campus. It is the government’s job to provide student housing. If the government provides housing, students will feel secure and it will be good for their careers and for their character development. If students are left to make their own arrangements they will fall into many traps, especially girls and boys who just came from rural areas.

The Educationist: Many students come from Urdu medium schools and almost all courses at universities are in English. What are your views on this?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: This is something where I think students need to work because the medium of higher education should be English. I wish courses were in Urdu, but unless the government prepares textbooks in Urdu it is not possible. In South Korea, China and Japan higher education is in their national language, but we lack good books in our national language. I suggest that students are adults, they are fast learners, learning a language is not a big problem. They can pick up a new language in 6 months. It’s just that they have to attempt. In my times – when I was a student – in order to understand the pronunciation we had only two ways: BBC or Voice of America. Their transmissions aired late at night and I would listen to Voice of America and BBC to learn English. So that was the only choice then, there was no other way to hear an American speaking or a British speaking. Now there are several channels for films and news but still there are students whose pronunciation is bad. They are not listening properly and they are not learning properly. In my time there was only Dawn newspaper and that was expensive, we would buy Dawn to read and to learn the language. Now Newyork Times is available for Rs 20. You can get Newyork Times in your homes and there are so many other journals, so I think it is the inability or disinterest that is more of a problem than any other thing. Our students should know that in order to succeed in their professional lives, they have to be very good in English. They should read books, newspapers and journals to master the language.

The Educationist: The national and provincial budgets are being announced and there is a consensus that the education budget is very meagre. What would you suggest to the government?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: Every year we talk about this, I think there is some improvement in the education budget. I would specially acknowledge the very good schemes introduced by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the scholarships to study in Pakistan and abroad. The Danish school is also a good initiative. Scholarships are being awarded on merit base. There are many students in our university who are studying because of these scholarships, but teachers – school and college teachers – in Pakistan are not paid properly. The rule should be that a teacher teaching in a school or a locality should be paid enough that he could live in the same locality. If a teacher is teaching in Model Town, then the teacher should be living in Model Town. In my time our school teachers were living where we were living and we would interact with them in our neighbourhood. Now the living standard of teachers has drastically gone down. Teachers’ salaries should be increased; it should at least be doubled, especially for school teachers. The government has increased their salaries, but the minimum salary is Rs 12,000 and it should be increased to at least Rs 20-25,000. On the budget, I would just add that the budget for education should be doubled. We have more than 100 million people who are less than 25-year-old. We have such a huge resource of people and under normal circumstances 4 per cent of the GDP is recommended, but in our situation – because of the large number of under-25 population – it should be 6 per cent. A person who fails to get enrolled, who doesn’t get education, and has reached the age of 18-20 years, that person would be dependent on others. If we want to be a self-reliant nation, we have to have self-reliant families and for that our budget for education should be 5-6 per cent. Government has the money, and people will pay more taxes when they see services delivered to them at their doorsteps. When they see that their children are studying for free, they get free books, they get free uniforms, everyone has free transport to school, then people will pay taxes. We have the lowest tax to GNP ratio because we have the lowest services.
When Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were finalised, the idea was that if any country needed money to achieve an MDG it would not just depend on its own budget. They would get the money from the MDG fund. So it was an open cheque written by the world and resources were not an excuse any more. Almost 90% of the countries have achieved the MDGs. Very few failed and Pakistan is one of these countries. The problem was not money, it was bad governance and lack of priorities. It is very shameful that Pakistan has reached 2015 and is still unable to achieve the MDGs.

The Educationist: What are your views on the establishment of provincial higher education commission (HEC)?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I think this is a very good decision. Prof Dr Nizzamuddin is a learned man. He has served as the vice chancellor of the University of Gujrat and the varsity has made good progress under his leadership. He has some good ideas for higher education and we will support him. It would take a lot of effort, but I think he is capable of the job. I also hope that there will be understanding between the federal HEC and the provincial HEC, and both will join hands and work together. The controversy, however, is that the chief minister would become powerful and take all major decisions, such as the recruitment of vice chancellors. I think that’s why public sector universities were not supporting the ideas. In my opinion, we should learn from our experiences and we should give autonomy to universities. Universities can only function if they are autonomous. As I said earlier, universities can only function if they are governed by faculty and not the bureaucracy. I want faculty governance, I want students to have more voice and more say.

The Educationist: Sir do you have any message for our readers?
Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad: I highly appreciate this initiative (The Educationist) and I think it will create an independent forum for cross fertilisation of ideas of how to run higher education. As for those who are at the helm of affairs and also the government are concerned it will help them deal with higher education issues and help formulate policies in higher education. It would be good for students and faculty as well because I think this forum would become a forum of exchange of ideas and thoughts and good practices.

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