Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Pakistan boast to be the 4rth largest university in the world in terms of number of students. The number of students enrolled in AIOU have crossed the gigantic number of 700,000. There are some more than 30,000 tutors and its study centers are present across the country.
Quantity-wise AIOU may be counted as one of the top university in the world, but quality-wise, it’s only churning out out-right plain professional idiots, who don’t know a thing from other. Knowledge, skill, professionalism, discipline and ethics are the things which are rare in the AIOU’s study centers. The study center concept was launched some 14 or 15 years ago, and it has failed miserably.
The concept in itself is fantastic in the country like ours, but its implementation is very questionable. AIOU has delegated private personal to establish its study centers in towns and cities. AIOU just overlooks superficially and study center management does all the work. AIOU just sends books, guidelines, conduct final examination, prepare the result and receive the fee. This loosely controlled system is what is the root cause of failure.
There is no check and balance over the study centers whatsoever. University never asks the students and faculty what their problems are. University never checks and verifies the quality of study centers and official only visit to eat and enjoy. They never access students and faculty, and they never provide any proper way to get the feedback. Sometimes, to just fill the gap, they call the management to university and threaten them in different way, and then management arranges a lavish party, and everything becomes alright for at least another semester.
There is no check upon the quality of faculty. Study center tries to hire the cheapest faculty possible to save money. They put every effort to save money. Facilities are dismal at every study center throughout the country.
A typical study center of AIOU would normally be placed in a small house, or on a congested floor of some rickety plaza. You could see students and teachers haggling over the availability of class rooms with management or some other claimant. Labs if available would be like a torn-down museum. There is no concept of common room, refreshment room, play room, or conference room in such centers. The only thing worth-watching would be the principal room and his kickshaw secretary.
University should take some drastic measures to streamline these issues. First it should stop boasting about quantity and start thinking seriously about the quality. They should chart out criteria for the establishment of study centers, and only issue permission to those study centers which meet the criteria. University officials should pay the surprise visits to study centers and record their visit through movie camera, which should be checked by some director level officer. University should also put some feedback form for students on their websites and also ensure prompt investigation over any issue or problem. Assignment system is useless and should be abolished. Examination system should be made more transparent and secure.
AIOU could also be one of the top universities of world in terms of quality.