Assistant Professor Dr. Dipak Bahadur Bhandari, the Registrar of Pokhara University, has envisioned the ambitious plan of the university to enroll more than 5000 students if all the plans and projects are successfully accomplished with the support of the stakeholders including OPEN. Dr. Bhandari emphasizes the need of private colleges working hand in hand with the university. The significant cooperation of OPEN and affiliated colleges to cope with the challenges during the pandemic and conducting online examinations in a systematic way are really commendable.
As private colleges collectively cooperate with the university, the private colleges and the university are not contender but concomitant and travelers travelling in the same boat. Dr. Bhandari has appealed to all the private colleges not to call themselves Mafias and to avoid the paranoia of Mafia. He further insisted on saying that the university has never treated them as mafia rather a good companion instead. He questioned that since they both are travelling in the same boat to reach a destination such kinds of unreasonable thought and treat are impossible. He said, “We want to go together and work together for our mutual benefit.” He further requested all the affiliated colleges and their umbrella organization, OPEN, to come to a meaningful discussion if any problems occur in the course of journey and to resolve the problem with a logical solution through consensus.
Mr. Bhandari focuses on IT friendly education and is going to connect all the colleges through a medium of information technology very soon. He is planning to implement the online registration system. The university has formed a scholarship committee to systematize it. “We will make the exam and issuance of results more systematic and effective and make the provision of conducting exam within the 15 days of submitting exam forms.” He shares.
The present team of university has been working with true spirit of sincerity for the development of entire education. Due to the positive role, suggestions and cooperation of all the affiliated colleges, it has been possible for strengthening the university.
His ideas are worth sharing, which we convened during an interview with him. Excerpts:
We would like to congratulate you on assuming the office as Registrar at Pokhara University about six months ago. Could you please tell us how your teaching career commenced?
I first began my career as a teacher. I dreamed of becoming a teacher and University Professor while studying at school and college. After I completed my master’s degree, I began teaching at Campion College and Shubhashree College. Later, I worked as principal at Shubhashree College. After teaching for some years there, I went abroad for my doctorate degree. Then in 2009, I joined Pokhara University as an assistant lecturer. It’s been 12 years that I have been involved in Pokhara University and rendering my services as a faculty member and official. Since April 2021, I have been working as the Registrar of this university.
You had a dream of entering the university and rendering your services. To what extent has your dream been fulfilled?
After achieving my doctorate degree from an overseas country, I envisioned lots of potentialities in Nepal and returned to crystallize them. But I couldn’t achieve as much as I expected in my field. Only my efforts did not work here. The political, social and cultural barriers sabotaged my pace to reach the touchdown of my success.
It is heard that Pokhara University has sprung up from the hubris of fiascos and started delivering its quality services. How did the university revive its legacy?
First and foremost, I am a professor at this university. I have every detail of this university and know its strengths and drawbacks. Hence, I know how it functions well. Before I was appointed as Registrar, I had prepared a plan to reform the university. I had made a priority list of the work with a concrete timeline. That university development plan came into effect and function right after my appointment as the registrar. Though we were paralyzed by the global pandemic of Covid-19, we did not eschew our function rather we delivered our alternative, i.e. online teaching. Even amid the fear of pandemic, by maintaining the health protocols, we ran offices and the university council which were halted for two years. We did in July this year and passed the budget. Now with rapid speed we are functioning to develop the university.
In onset of the pandemic, Tribhuvan University conducted the exams in physical presence of students, but Pokhara University did it through an online platform. How was the participation of examinees in the board examinations?
Examination is the indicator of an individual’s knowledge again. It’s not necessary to examine one physically to measure the knowledge one has perceived. There are several instruments and tools, online source is one of them. So, we applied the alternative, i.e. hybrid online method which was best during pandemic. The examinations were held effectively and efficiently. We maintained the schedule; examinees were satisfied, and we relished our success. Our university is ahead in academic excellence.
You had a vision and a university development plan at the time of your appointment. Would you tell us what it was?
The courses of Pokhara University are in high demand in the market now, but as we are in sort of physical and academic infrastructures, we could not add and launch market-oriented subjects/programs though market has been continually demanding it. So, after my advent as Registrar, I focused on infrastructure development. Since we did not have infrastructures for running medical and paramedical courses, we are now focusing on constructing a hospital. So, I prioritized infrastructure building. Priority is construction of the central office and other offices to increase our capacity. We have 240 ropani land at Muse Tuda, near the powerhouse. We are planning to construct an infrastructure to accommodate 5000 students of various disciplines there. A recruitment process of hiring consultants has completed, and they are working on three different phases simultaneously: land development, river control, designing work. It is the biggest project of the university for its growth. Similarly, we are immediately establishing a hospital with 100 beds; the existing hostel building will be transformed into a hospital. In the long-run we are planning to construct a 300-bedded hospital. These three projects are in our priority list.
They seem to be the long-term projects. What are your short-term projects?
Yes, these projects will get completed within the next three years. We have short term projects too, for e.g., we are running a 100-bedded hospital immediately. We are shifting the girl’s hostel to a private house.
You have 58 affiliated and 8 joint constituent colleges. What plans do you have to strengthen these 66 Pokhara University affiliates?
As we have limited quota and reservation, most of our graduating students try to go for their higher study abroad, and foreign affiliated colleges are also attracting some students in home. That is the common trend. It’s not student’s fault to go abroad as market-oriented programs have limited quota. Now, we request our affiliated colleges to revive their affiliation and strengthen their capacity to accommodate as many students as possible. Similarly, we are developing new, pertinent and market-oriented programs and launching soon. Next, we are shifting our focus on medical education, too. We are having our own teaching hospital and extending our services to a wider number of hopefuls.
We are soon assessing the need of human resources in the country and prepare the courses/curricula to fulfill the need so that our graduates become instrumental for nation development. In addition, job generating courses will be launched soon.
As you mentioned earlier, after acquiring a ten-plus-two qualification, most students are galvanized to go abroad for higher studies. Now, Covid-19 pandemic has halted the flow, to some extent. What type of policy would convince those students to pursue their higher education in their native land?
I also did my higher studies in an overseas country, but 95 percent of students going abroad do not study. Only 5 percent complete the studies because there is no favorable environment for their study. The academic expenses are high, family at home cannot support their studies and the students have to work hard for fulfilling even their basic needs. On the other hand, if the academic institutions in Nepal deliver the world-class quality education, the flow of students will be halted since most students know they are going to survive being laborers in a foreign land if they study in Nepal.
Do you mean that our academic curricula are not compatible with skill development of students?
Yes, we have abundant knowledge but we are lacking the practicality and skill development. Our teaching pedagogy is not perfectly complete. We are launching the new courses yoking knowledge with skills and application. Then, we will be able to hold many students in Nepal. We are committed for that.
Will you share the action plan of the university for the escalation of its acclamation with the readers?
We have held a series of discussions with the owners of industries in Nepal and endeavored to develop our courses to be compatible with their required skills. Therefore, this compatibility is working effectively; as a result, 90 percent of our MBA students are employed in the local industries. Our focus is to prepare the job creating graduates rather than the dillydallying unemployed persons.
Are other universities doing market need assessments to sell their products? What is Pokhara University doing with regard to such an assessment?
I do not have information about other universities. As far as our endeavor is concerned, we have been doing an assessment on the market and industries and exploring their needs and requirements.
To accomplish the market need assessments, extensive research and development cell requires. Would you tell us about the mechanism of Pokhara University?
Yes, we do have a research center and team for the market requirement assessment. On the bases of the report, we can say that Pokhara University is launching the subjects and programs with drastic change from this year, especially the courses of engineering, management, humanities, and health sciences to fulfill the market needs. We do not get budgets from the government, so we coordinate with the private sector. That’s the reason why our affiliated colleges are intact, efficient and resourceful, which ultimately strengthens the university’s modus vivendi.
We have been hearing ‘Quality Education’ as a cliché from a long time. What could be the parameters of quality education that Pokhara University renders? Where will we find the university in the next four years’ timeline?
We aim to fulfill the dream of a guardian envisioning the assurance of quality education to his/her child(ren). We are highly motivated and committed to crystallizing such a dream. Pokhara University will further gain the trust of guardians who are eager to witness their children to be adroit and successful in their chosen field.
Finally, could you please tell us why students should study at Pokhara University affiliated colleges?We are different from our contemporary universities in terms of quality delivery, updated courses and success rate of our graduates in the global economy. Our system is different from others. We update our courses as per the global market needs, economy and skills required to cope with every challenge our graduates encounter. So, our graduates acquire high confidence and skill for their employability and add value to their profession. This is the b