Higher Education Commission, HEC Islamabad has long been working on phasing out the old BA /BSc (2 years ) degree programs being offered at undergraduate level in Pakistani Universities. One of the greatest advantages of BA/BSc system was that private students could also appear in examination, hence it served a great cause by increasing the number of degree holders in the country.
However, HEC has now officially announced that there will be no BA/BSc dgree offered by any university in Pakistan. Alternative a 2 years associate degree program is announced.
What is an Associate Degree?
An Associate Degree is a two-year post-intermediate or equivalent academic degree to be awarded by public & private Universities/DAIs. The concept behind introducing the associate degree program is to offer a skilled based degree. Associate degree is offered primarily in market driven subjects based on local and regional community and industry needs to be determined through a comprehensive survey to be carried out by the University/Institution concerned.
What is the Status of Associate Degree Holder?
The Associate Degree holder will be a simple “Graduate” as this degree will be equivalent to a BA/BSc (Pass) degree as far as the level of the degree is concerned. This degree is the lowest amongst the hierarchy of academics qualifications being awarded by foreign Universities.
The associate degree is not awarded in a generic manner upon completion of two years of a four-year regular undergraduate (BS) programme. The concept of Associate Degree originates from the United States and, is being executed in many technically advanced countries including Canada, Australia and Japan etc. An Associate Degree programme is normally structured to be conducted over four regular semesters over a two years period and consists of 65-68 credit hours.
What are Further Study options for Associate Degree Holders?
After award of an Associate Degree from an accredited degree awarding University/Institution, the holder will have the option of transferring the 2 Introduction of Associate Degree Programme in Pakistan credits to a BS programme, at the discretion of the host university. The primary types of Associate Degree are the: i) Associate of Arts degree ii) Associate of Applied Science degree iii) Associate of Science degree.
Universities offering Associate Degree programs in Pakistan
In Pakistan, primarily University of Gujrat and Institute of Business Administration, Sukkur introduced an Associate Degree programmes in 2010 in Finance, Accounting, IT, Hotel Management and Education.
Following is the list of universities who are offering Associate degree programs:
- University of the Punjab Lahore
- University of Sargodha, Sargodha
- University of Gujrat
- Virtual University, Lahore
- Riphah International University, Islamabad
- Punjab Group of Colleges, Lahore
- Government Colleges in every province are to launch Associate Degree program
- More and more will launch this program in coming days…
Disciplines / Courses suggested for undergraduate Associate Degree
Application oriented disciplines in which the Associate Degree programmes are expected to be launched, and for which curriculum is yet to be developed, include:
- Health Services and Para-Medical Technology
- Business and Commerce
- Public Service
- Data Processing and Programing
- Occupational Studies
- Physical Therapy
- Accounting, Information Systems
- Computer Networking
- Network Management
- Web Design, Web Management
- Health Information Technology
- Industrial/Production Technologies
- Health Care Administration
- Media Studies
- Labour Relations
- Tourism & Hospitality
- Applied Psychology
- Agri Business
- Dental Hygiene
- Indigenous Community Health
- Community Management and Development
- Medical Lab Technology
- Mine Technology
- Dental Therapy
- Studio Art
- Drama and Theater
- Sales & Marketing
- Security Management etc.
Basic Idea Plan and Features designed for Associate Degree Program
To rationalize the Associate Degree programme, the constructive and innovative ideas put forward by the Vice Chancellors reaffirm the fact that the programme is not to be launched in isolation and, in fact, all the stakeholders including universities, industries and market forces have been taken on board. The universities intending to launch theme based Associate Degree shall be required to carry out market survey before institution of the Associate Degree programme to ascertain the employability of the graduates. Following are the selective features of the Programme:
- Associate Degree programmes shall be launched in market driven disciplines for which HEC shall present fast-track curriculum development to ensure uniformity in case subject is offered at more than two Universities/Institutions.
- To make Associate Degree attractive and to ensure marketability of the holders, a survey needs to be undertaken by the University/Institution to identify specific target areas within broader disciplines of study before launching the programme.
- Admission requirement for Associate Degree shall be Intermediate/12-year schooling or equivalent and will be awarded upon qualifying 65-68 credit hours in four (04) semesters to be completed. The programme will be offered through especially designated campuses/constituent colleges of the universities and not on the main or principal campus of the University/Institution.
- Universities intending to launch Associate Degree programme shall be required to inform and register themselves with the Commission by providing the information in Annexure A.
- In case the curriculum of the programme to be offered has not been developed, the universities should in collaboration with the HEC and respective industry representatives to develop the required curriculum.
- The Commission will develop semester based curriculum through specially constituted National Curriculum Revision Committee when one particular degree shall be offered in more than two Universities/Institutions.
Associate Degree Requirements and Study / Course
- Total numbers of Credit hours 65-68 ·
- Duration of Associate Degree 2 years ·
- Semester duration 16-18 weeks ·
- Semesters 4
- Course Load per Semester 16-18 Cr Hrs
- Average number of courses per semester 4-6 (not more than 3 lab/practical courses/semester)
Current Status of the Associate Degree and Universities
Although it was planned that Associate degree will be a totally skilled based degree and it will be offered after careful analysis on the basis of surveys to be conducted in the job market. But unfortunately like all other plans, none has been practically done. Surprisingly, universities are just re-naming their old BA/BSc degrees as associated Degree program. You might be surprised to know that even syllabus of the Old BA/BSc system is not revised, and the same is implemented for Associate Degree program.