A university ought to meet the changing needs of our country by building on innovation, problem solving and interdisciplinarity. Its mission shall be to create and disseminate knowledge through research and creative inquiry, teaching and learning, and to transfer our intellectual product to enhance society in meaningful and sustainable ways. Its mission shall also be to serve students by teaching them problem solving, leadership and team work skills, and the value of commitment to quality, ethical behavior and respect for others.
We need to identify the pressures of a constantly changing and increasingly competitive landscape. We need to assess honestly the universities comparative strengths and weaknesses, and we need to define strategic priorities for the future.
Education is the bedrock of our country. Yet the very nature of our education will come under increased scrutiny and may be threatened by harsh economic conditions. We will need to work together and be prepared to think differently to ensure that the education of our students remains of the highest quality. That education must be an excellent grounding that serves our students well in their immediate studies but also equips them for further study or as highly sought-after graduates. This will not be easy, as the financial imbalance of education costs is, and will be, a growing problem. We must retain and grow the current quality of provision, while protecting equality of opportunity across the university. The solution to this problem will primarily require leadership within the University. Fair access for the very best students is essential. A university must raise the aspirations of potential candidates and continue to admit undergraduate students on the principle that intellectual potential is the sole criterion.
A high level of funding is necessary in any academic institution. The common factor for all disciplines is that there is no substitute for recruiting and retaining the very best staff if we are to have high quality teaching and research. Our academic staff must have the time, resources and infrastructure to attract others to forge strong teams. Only they can foster the spirit of enquiry and thereby enhance education, as well as attract further resources to ensure sustainability.
By supporting partnerships and expanding fields of research through new collaborations, we will build our research capacity and continue to push the boundaries of innovation and discovery. We will deliver research and innovation clusters that strengthen multidisciplinary research and enhance knowledge transfer capability. These clusters will provide a forum for business, industry and government partners.
The challenge to the new Vice-Chancellor is clear. It is to lead a university in a competitive and difficult economic environment, secure our financial base, develop an infrastructure commensurate with a leading university, and ensure the best possible environment to recruit and retain academic staff and students of the highest quality. However, this cannot, and must not ever be, a one-man operation because it inherently affects all who value and cherish quality.
The commitment to excellence and high achievement cannot be compromised as the university moves forward. We will face both extra opportunity and real challenges in the next decade. The challenges include relentless competition for students and faculty, growing pressures and demands on resources, and the increasing complexity and uncertainty of our technological, economic and political environments. Despite these challenges, I have every reason to be confident in this university’s ability to succeed.
Professor Dr. Qaiser Mushtaq