The University of Karachi (KU) is set to enter into the digital era in a few months as it is about to replace its manual system with an online enterprise resource planning (ERP) and campus-wide management system.
In terms of infrastructure, academic and administrative functions, the KU is one of the largest public sector universities of the country. It not only serves the needs of the provincial capital but is also generously serving students from all over the country and abroad. During the last 10 years, the university has experienced a steep increase in the number of on-campus and off-campus students.
According to the 2021 statistics, the on-campus enrolment in 73 departments, research centres and institutes running under eight faculties increased was 45,000 and off-campus students’ enrolment was more than 150,000 in various degree colleges and affiliated institutes.
More than 700 teaching and research faculty members in all four cadres are working as permanent employees in different academic and research departments of the KU in addition to more than 500 temporary teaching and research faculty that is inducted each semester.
In order to facilitate administrative work flow, around 3,000 non-teaching staff members have been hired for smooth running of the university affairs.
The rapid increase in number of students admitted per year since 2000 led to many challenges for faculty members and administrative staff alike in fulfilling their assigned duties efficiently.
In April last year, then KU acting vice chancellor Dr Khalid Iraqi decided to shift the administrative work to a computerised system capable of countering red tape that could automate and integrate all the academic and administrative functions of the university.
“The managerial resourcefulness and efficacy of the new system will not only enhance the working efficiency of the university and its employees and faculty members, by incorporating speed and transparency, but will also suppress financial and administrative leakages and duplicities intrinsic to a manual system,” said Chairperson of Physics Department Prof Dr Imran Ahmad Siddiqui who was part of the three-member committee tasked with searching for a suitable ERP system and CMS for the varsity. The other members of the committee were Prof Dr Muhammad Taha of the history department and Deputy Director Finance Omer Zubari.
An ERP system for an organisation of the size of KU required huge hardware and software resources as processing units and data storage devices. Since the users connect via internet with an ERP system, a respectable internet bandwidth was also needed at times of high traffic, such as during admissions and registration of new students.
The new system would replace the current legacy manual system, mapping all the legacy functionalities and data processing techniques onto the proposed system.
According to Dr Siddiqui, the directorate is responsible, among other management issues of the ERP, for migrating huge chunks of legacy data from various academic and administrative departments into the ERP database. The fully functional ERP system is likely to go live in the next few months. It would facilitate the entire teaching community, researchers, staff and students working in various departments and institutes by providing individual login portals. The faculty members, non-teaching supporting staff and administrative staff would manage all their academic, research and administrative activities using their personalised administrative portals.
The new system would also govern the entire admissions process at the KU.