Dedication, commitment key to national progress: Shahid Iqbal
Vice Admiral ® Shahid Iqbal HI (M) has emerged as a prominent education instructor while serving the Bahria University as Rector. He is the recipient of national award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military). As a Naval Officer, he was the first Naval Officer from the region to have been assigned to serve as Commander Task Force-150 (Multinational Naval Force) at NAVCENT, Bahrain. He also has the privilege to have worked as Director General (Naval Intelligence) and also performed as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Training and Personnel). He has a mission to bring the university to new heights with professional commitment and dedication. During his exclusive interview with Technology Times, he explained his priorities and missions to accomplish this task.
What is your experience as the Rector and when did you take charge of the university?
SHAHID IQBAL: I have been serving as Rector the Bahria University since February 08, 2012. I am a recipient of national award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military). As a Naval Officer, I was the first Naval Officer from the region to have been assigned to serve as Commander Task Force-150 (Multinational Naval Force) at NAVCENT, Bahrain. I have been a Director General (Naval Intelligence) and also performed his duties as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) and (Training and Personnel). I am an operations specialist and hold Principal Warfare Officer Specialization from School of Maritime Operations UK. I have done my Masters degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from National Defence University, Islamabad.
Are you satisfied with the research activities of our academia? And how can our industry benefit from academia research, and do you think the research output of our academia on right direction?
Yes, of course, I am satisfied with the research activities of academia at Bahria University. In order to promote knowledge creation through research at the University, the Office of Research and Development was established in February, 2010 which was later notified by HEC as Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) in October 2011. The Annual Research Output of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of Pakistan, published by the HEC in print media on August 7, 2012 shows that Bahria University has moved up significantly to the 49th position (in 2012) out of 111 HEIs from 58th position (in 2011) with an increase of 150 per cent in the research publications in the ISI-Indexed Impact Factor Journals.
How can our industry benefit from academic research?
The benefits which can be attained by the industry from the research endeavours of academia are far beyond imagination. In the entire developed world, the academia is responsible for the development, transfer, diffusion and application of new knowledge and technology in the industry. For such reason, a holistic interaction pattern is required between the academia and industry for the development of any nations innovative system through the exchange of knowledge and technology. The interaction between academia and industry is of vital importance not merely because of the reason that industry can finance the research projects, etc. of the academia, but also for the purpose of questions posed by the industry which often reveals gaps in knowledge that can be addressed only by long-term research by the academia. The significance of academia research in industry is not only limited to the fields of medical and engineering but also social sciences play a vital role in the success of industry. For example, research on consumer behaviour patterns by academia will lead to changes in the marketing policies, product design, etc. by the industry. In my opinion, universities should explore mechanisms and ways for bringing the benefits of academic research to industry, keeping in mind that procedures running well in one industry may not work well in other industry. Both industry and academia should chalk out adaptable policies and practices for stronger interaction patterns for the achievement of long-term goals of development.
What are the reasons behind industry-academia gap in Pakistan?
This gap had been here in recent past but academia and industry have realized to the bridge. It was due to the lack of communication between two parties and also lack of quality research in institutions and this gap is mainly due to the lack of quality research in the country. I foresee that things are going to prove fair quite well. Now things have been put in place; HEC did play a very encouraging role, academy people have now started doing quality research work. If we try our academia, they are very established research platform, however, it will surely take some time, but we are yet to get on the right track.
What is the specialty of Bahria University and what makes an individual proud to be a part of this institution?
Bahria University is a progressive centre of education, where the guiding principles are Quality and Innovation. It is encompassing all facets of quality education supported by most modern educational aids, highly qualified and experienced teaching faculty is offering education in market place academic disciplines. The university makes its students proud of it mainly due to its distinguished features including Quality Assurance Directorate, International Linkages, Campus Counseling/Academic Advisory, Faculty Development Programme, Scholarships at Bahria University, Public Relations Department, Bahria University Alumni Association, Student Resource Center (SRC), Bahria University Sports and Gymnasium.
What is the number of students studying at the university? Does it provide medical insurance?
Approximately 10,000 students are enrolled in the university. We have also established healthcare facilities at both the campuses. They are manned by medical officers and their staff which provides medical assistance, OPD treatment and temporary hospitalization to students in case of need.
What is the job security for the students of Bahria University, being fresh graduates, in the corporate world?
We have a well established Career Services Office in both the campuses at Karachi and Islamabad with designated staff. They have maintained an effective liaison with more than 200 organizations for placement of our graduates in terms of jobs and internships. We also conduct workshops for our students on career development, personal and professional grooming like career counseling sessions, mock interviews in addition to review on their resumes, job fairs and career expos. These events are organized on a regular basis as well. Companies like Unilever, Mobilink, Telenor, Shell, Rozee.pk, and School of Leadership have provided various workshops to our graduates. The highest level of academic excellence incorporated in our graduates with refined skills makes them a valuable asset to the organizations and provide them room for growth in the corporate world. Unilever, Zong, Mobilink, Geo TV, UBL, Bank Al-Habib, Telenor, Allied Bank Limited, etc. conducted their Management Trainee programmes at our campuses. Our graduates are performing well in their respective industries. Some have reached the top executive level within a short span of 10 – 12 years at various international organizations like Nestle, PIA, Telenor, Dawn Group, PSO, Lafarge Cement, Mobilink, Teradata and Oracle.
Is there any number available in terms of percentage for graduates getting job immediately after completing their education?
We have a very well established SRC both at Karachi and Islamabad. They are maintaining alumni of the students. Post-placement of the students is being managed properly. By and large, students of our university are well received in the job market. They are far ahead of the other university students.
What other outside classroom activities does Bahria University provide to its students?
There is a Student Resource Center (SRC) which facilitates students and provides them the opportunity to develop their skills including management, communication, team building, social as well as leadership skills. In this globally competitive age, it is imperative to provide the students with opportunities to develop and hone the above mentioned skills.
These are the as many as 15 clubs currently working under SRC including Arts and Dramatics, Literacy and Debates, Media (green club), Events, Music, Engineering (BACSAP), (ACM) student chapter, Bahria Book Club, Bahria Business Club, BUSEG (PAPG), IEEE, Bahria, Perspective Club and Bentham Society. We have recently established a Sports and Adventure Club.
What community services does Bahria University hold?
Bahria University is the first Pakistani institution to link its degree programme with community service. All undergraduate students at Bahria are required to do community work as a degree requirement. The community services are organized through assistance from, NGOs, and social welfare, government organizations. Approximately more than 1500 students from different departments have participated in different community support services over the timeline of 2007-2011. Our community support programme has been featured more than 10 times in national newspapers.
What is the impact of your community service programme? Is there any record or data available?
This is the only university which is connecting community service programme which associated with final project. We want to develop civic sense in our students. Bahria University is a dynamic university which is not only looking to money but also we are more trying to make them a good citizen. So students are very much responsive to accepting these services. We not only send students for community services we also support some of the NGOs to promote education in Pakistan. We have used our labs in off time to offer computer courses to the less privileged.
Are you satisfied with the quality of education available in Pakistan? And how can we achieve that excellence?
By and large there had been fairly good improvement when we compare the things from the past. HEC played a big role to promote higher education in the country. I personally feel there had been a realization that no country can progress without higher education and HEC did well in this respect. There is a shift in the trend where in past student dont want to become faculty after studies but today students are willing to come in education sector. There is some grey sector but overall the institution is improving.
Do you see any other Dr. Abdus Salam or Dr Salimuzzaman in your students or the spark they had?
Of course, potential is there where talent is second to none.
How do you see the importance of science education in our society?
Science education is very important for industrialization. Without science and technology there is no way we can make progress. If we want to do a dynamic activity we have to be focused and draft very clear policies.