QAU's students protests against closure of linguistics department
Chitral Times Report
Islamabad - The students of Quaid-i-Azam University resorted to
protest against the closure of linguistics department after
the QAU’s syndicate approved the decision to close down the
department offering master degree in various languages.
More the 100 students from linguistics and other departments
protested at the campus and staged a sit-in in front of the vice
chancellor’s office. The students said although the department will
be phased out gradually and they will be allowed to complete their
degrees, yet after its closure they will not be able to pursue
MPhil or PhD which the department is yet to start. “It is the only
department in the country that offers pure and applied linguistics
courses wherein students study various languages including native
languages,” said a protesting student Ali. He said
there has been a great demand from the students to start MPhil and
PhD programmes in linguistics but the vice chancellor thinks the
subject has limited scope and a financial burden on the varsity.
The teaching faculty of the university is also against the
decision. According to information, they have submitted a petition
in the office of President of Pakistan, who is the chancellor of
the university, with the signature of over 200 faculty members
against the decision, urging him to look into the issue.
They believe the vice chancellor has bypassed the varsity’s
academic council that is the appropriate forum to decide about the
start, modify, or phase-out of any academic programme. As per the
university rule, the syndicate has to act on the advice of the
academic council but in this case, the council was not consulted at
all, said Ilhan Niaz, president of varsity’s academic staff
He informed a committee was formed to decide about the fate of the
department when the issue surfaced in April this year. The
committee had recommended modifying or merging the programme with
other departments. But the syndicate members who were not properly
briefed or misled preferred to go with the vice-chancellor’s
decision, he added.
Established in 2012, the linguistics department was a brainchild of
Dr Tariq Rahman who is associated with the Beaconhouse University.
Currently about 118 students are enrolled in the department.
“It is a crucial subject which is taught everywhere in the world
and we are already much behind in it. India and Sri Lanka have good
departments of linguistics but Pakistan does not even have one,”
responded Dr Tariq Rahman through email when asked about this
“One should not bother about money; otherwise one would have to say
goodbye to most forms of knowledge. Linguistics does, however, feed
into robotics, study of speech defects, creation of artificial
intelligence and in mapping languages. Besides these practical uses
it is at the centre of understanding society, personality and
politics. It is also necessary for understanding education and the
policies choosing a medium of instruction,” he explained.
“I think the department at QAU should be strengthened and not
closed down. I am sorry to hear that linguistics is being phased
out. I established it after 20 years of effort.”
The in-charge of the department, Umaima Kamran said: “It is a wrong
perception that the subject has limited scope and there is no
demand of this subject in the market.” She said their students have
been working in various universities and non-governmental
organisations and they want the QAU to start MPhil and PhD
Because it is the only department in the country that offers rare
courses of clinical linguistics and dying languages in contrast to
other universities that only offer English literature courses, she
However, Vice-Chancellor QAU Dr Javed Ashraf maintained the
syndicate, which is the highest decision making body of the
university, took this decision after through deliberations. He said
the decision was taken two months ago and the protest of the
students seems to be merely politicking.
The university decided to phase out the programme after taking into
consideration all areas and priorities and finances were not the
only reason, he said.