STRENGTHENING THE STANCE OF POKHARA UNIVERSITY IS MY SET PRIORITY

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Could you please tell us what Pokhara University is currently doing? 

Ans: The existing infrastructure is not sufficient for comfortably running the classes. So, in an area of 240 ropani at Musetuda we are constructing buildings to accommodate 5000 students. We have already done the DPR, and within the next six months, the procurement process will finalize the contractors. The construction may not be completed before my tenure ends, but we are determined to commence the construction. 

Would you briefly elucidate the short-term and long-term vision of the University? 

Ans: We are immediately revising the course curriculum. The updating of the course has been due for a long time. A globally competitive curriculum is the need of the time which we are aware of and addressing it soon. Similarly, we have been introducing new courses, and one is Entrepreneurship Development Education (BEd). In this course, students need to prepare a project in their seventh semester and start an enterprise; the university will fund their start-up business with seed money and a soft loan. 

Constituent colleges have enrolled students in the 1st semester now. The affiliated colleges will also be provided with this course after a certain time and process. Likewise, BALLB has also been launched, PGD in Pedagogical Science, which is a one year B.Ed program that will be a semi-distance education mode with a 3-month internship as the school development service. 

As a long term program, we are running a hospital. After almost everything for conducting a hospital was arranged, we started OLD service from 1st Bhadra 2079. Complete functioning of the 100 bed hospital may take four to five more months. 

Since Pokhara University has its own hospital, when will you start your medical college? 

Ans: We have been running nursing and other various medical courses; however, medical education council has stopped granting permission to run some of the medical programs. As per our commitment to establish a hospital as a requirement of nursing and some other medical programs, we have made the hospital quickly. 

What’s your plan for running MBBS program? 

Ans: The pre-requisite for running MBBS program is a 300 bedded hospital; other things are taken for granted. Most hospitals of this locality have requested us to give them a permission to be our constituent members. The sooner we become successful in bringing these hospitals under the University, the earlier we can run MBBS program. It will most probably happen in my tenure.  

When will the new college affiliation granting begin?   

Ans: Earlier than my tenure, the team decided not to grant affiliation as 379 colleges had requested for affiliation, among them many had ignored the due procedure. Considering the demand of the people and need of the country we have decided to provide affiliation to eligible colleges which have set standard in Nepalese academia defined by the University. It will stop the outflow of students in foreign lands and depletion of financial reserves. We will study the geographical need, demographic composition and available resources before approving the affiliation since providing an affiliation to a deserving institution is in favor of the University, country and the aspiring students. 

Earlier you said you would grant new affiliations to deserving colleges on need basis and new subjects to the existing colleges. Why is it delayed?

Ans: You wisely raised a pertinent question. We were waiting for the decision of the University senate which we got recently. Now it’s our responsibility to implement the decision on the provision of new affiliation and fulfill the standard (criteria) set by University. If the colleges are providing quality education, running with full number of students and unquestionably sound, why should we not provide the new subject to them? 

When will the colleges get the demanded new subjects?

Answer: Some of the student unions have raised questions on new affiliation granting, but they and the patriotic people should be mindful that the university has undertaken huge constructions and projects of national pride. The government fund itself is not sufficient to accomplish the task. So, it’s the initiation of the people which plays a pivotal role in bringing the projects to logical end. Everyone must support the good initiative taken by the University, I humbly request. Some of the municipalities have requested and demanded for a constituent college of Pokhara University as well. We might as well want to establish a constituent college in each province which will strengthen the coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the affiliated colleges as the University officials remain in constituent colleges. For example, it has been very difficult to manage the 34 affiliated colleges of Kathmandu. So, it would be convenient for both university and colleges had there been a constituent colleges. Establishing a constituent college is a bit expensive. We have been effortful, though. 

Is there any provision for transforming a private college into a constituent one? 

Ans: If they are ready to hand over their property to the University, it is more than happy to transform a private college into constituent one on the bases of need of the area and university requirement/standard fulfillment. We are thinking and planning to run constituent colleges in association with the municipalities. For example, Ratnagar municipality of Chitwan and PoU have signed a commitment paper to establish a constituent college. Two community schools merged into one, and the property of the merged school will be used to establish a constituent college in collaboration with Ratna Nagar municipality.    

Almost 90% of secondary education graduates opt for study abroad. Many colleges that have bachelor’s programs are offering various subjects. Are the offered subjects not enough for accommodating the students? Or what can be the reason of brain and resource drain? What is the role of the University to examine this issue? 

Ans: Students’ foremost right is to acquire quality education. Pokhara University is not in the second place in term of quality education delivery in comparison to other universities of Nepal. We can easily find it once we go to the banks and business houses and conduct a random sampling. So, we are planning to accommodate the students in our existing colleges in full capacity and planning to establish colleges in completely new areas as many students opt for Pokhara university courses. It will bring regional balance and development as most of the students now rush to Kathmandu and the like for higher studies. 

You seem to have been effortful in bringing a golden future but we have seen political interventions and padlocking in the University to oppose what you’ve envisioned for. What the mess is?

There is a paradox. The political party leaders request me to establish constituent colleges in their locality and their own student wing cadres padlock the university. It’s quite difficult to understand. There is representation of all political parties in the senate of the university. Decision of the senate is all prevailing. Why can’t the political parties convince their cadres? The contradictory dual mindsets are harmful. 

Forty years’ service for television, and two years’ service for Pokhara University as the VC has provided you a wealth of experience. Now, let’s evaluate Nepal’s university curriculum in global frame – is it sellable globally?

Ans: Recently, we have had a discussion on this issue with the University Grants Commission and came to a conclusion to form a Deans’ forum to know and update the quality of each subject, how to revise the curriculum and bring desired change, and gain back the drained brain as the resource person. We need to pave a way. Of late, we went to Spain and signed an MOU with the universities there to compare and exchange our course curriculum and the graduates. To know our sell ability, we need to cross check and peer review.

How many foreign universities have done such an MOU with Pokhara University?

Ans: Altogether there are 70+ universities and academic institutions we have signed an MOU with, but they are from around the globe.

How far has the implementation seen and has it been result-oriented?

Ans: As a result of MOU done with universities, we have already started Sanitation Engineering, a new course in Nepalese context. Our municipalities and metropolitan cities are suffering from chronic problem of sanitation. The graduates will be instrumental in keeping the cities sanitized and immaculate. This type of collaboration helps us to explore new subjects which ultimately benefit our graduates and the society. We are launching sanitation engineering program in Kathmandu from this year. 

Nepal’s universities are often alleged to have less attention towards research. What is the stance of Pokhara University? 

Ans: Pokhara University has a separate research management cell. We have been conducting not only academic research also various social research in collaboration with UNDP and the like-minded organizations. We have recently conducted research in a request of UNDP and we have been rated as the top-ranked performer. I hope UNDP will ask us for all research related works throughout the country. 

Half of your 4-year tenure as the VC has been spent. You might have experienced the thick and thin as the VC. How is the experience?

Ans: The Nepalese universities are highly politicized. There comes obstruction to every step taken. The students are often provoked by the politicians for vandalizing the hard-earned infrastructures and properties. It’s the bitter experience I went through. Similarly, with a strong willpower and common interest of the nation, we can perform the acts without deviation, for I have set an example. Building a hospital and running it, updating and revising course curriculums are some of the good experience I have earned. An amicable coordination among all the stakeholders is the must.

There are 64 colleges of Pokhara University, out of them 58 are affiliated, 4 are constituent and 4 are joint-constituent. What is your plan to strengthen the stance of all 64 colleges?

Ans: In the 25 years span from the establishment of the University, this year, we collected the details of the 58 affiliated colleges and prepared the monitoring report. The report has not been released to the public yet.

How many colleges are reported as capable ones as per the monitoring report?

Ans: The data has not been published yet. Some of the colleges are so strong that they have even run the hospitals and other enterprises; a maximum number of colleges are strong in terms of physical infrastructures, resources, research, and finance. They are well-off from various aspects. We are categorizing the affiliated colleges into two groups, i.e. community and private ones. The joint constituent colleges seem to be outfit to the policy of UGC. So, I am not in favour of continuing the model. 

You have two more years to serve the University in the capacity of the VC. What changes will we be able to witness after two years?

Ans: In two years’ time, you will see the University being stronger in internal management with effective monitoring system, regular and smooth classes with state-of-the-art facilities, and establishment of constituent colleges in the major cities of Nepal. Some other programs, such as conducting a series of short-term training and refresher training for the faculty members for effective teaching and learning, endorsing a new affiliation to colleges and adding new subjects to existing colleges, will be our major breakthroughs that you will most probably witness in a couple of years.

Your last remarks? 

Ans: The University is completely dependent on public participation. So, elevation of the university is automatic inclination of status quo of the affiliated colleges. Let’s work hard to maintain the decorum and retain the legacy of the University.

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