The University of Engineering and Technology Lahore (UET) has launched the first phase of the Online-cum-Distance Learning (ODL) program during the lockdown period due to COVID-19. During this phase, classes will be conducted for the final semester undergraduate students only so that they could graduate in a timely manner. The UET administration has issued several notifications in this regard on ODL Policy Guidelines, ODL Course Readiness Certificate, ODL Quality Assurance Committee, and ODL Academic Committee. The ODL policies mandate teacher training and student readiness for ODL, ODL readiness of each course through a well defined process, and timeline for lectures, labs, Final Year Projects (FYPs), and comprehensive final examination. Teacher training sessions have been conducted already. Teachers will submit ODL ready courses by April 27 for approval by ODL Academic Committee. Classes will commence on May 4 and end on June 19. Lab assessments will be carried out from June 1 to June 19, final examinations will be conducted June 22-26, and assessment of FYPs will end by 3rd July. Results of final semester students will be declared by July 15.
If the university opens on June 1, the remaining lectures and assessment will be conducted on campus as per this schedule. Otherwise, the assessment methodology for labs, FYPs, and comprehensive final examination will be announced at an appropriate time in line with the directions and recommendations of Higher Education Commission (HEC), Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), and Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).
The university will announce policy and timeline for the remaining undergraduate semesters and graduate classes after receiving guidelines and recommendations from HEC and accreditation bodies such as PEC, NCEAC, and PCATP.
The Vice Chancellor, Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar said that the sudden closure of universities on March 14 was unplanned and abrupt, and their opening on June 1 is also quite uncertain. The uncertainty of the opening date required a well thought plan for continuation of academics through ODL, a brand new mode of teaching-learning by both teachers and students. This coupled with access to Internet at a university where almost 60% of the undergraduate student body is on financial aid, and lack of teacher and student readiness technically and their mental acceptance, added to the complexity of the change.
“Instead of dealing with this change reactively, as was done by some universities, at UET we decided to manage the change with a well thought out plan, to be implemented incrementally starting with the final semester undergraduate classes,” said Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar. The university has also decided to adopt mixed-mode of synchronous and asynchronous. So, teachers have the option to deliver lecture notes, recorded audio or video lectures, etc via email or digital repositories, or deliver live lectures using software tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Teams or Hangout, Zoom, etc. Teachers will address student queries using these tools, email, WhatsApp, social networks, and other such mechanisms.
These decisions were taken after a long consultative process involving deans, chairpersons of academic departments, teachers, students, and IT personal in the light of directions and recommendations from the HEC, PHEC, Punjab Higher Education Department (HED), and PEC. The colleges affiliated with the university have been directed to follow the same ODL policies.