Why I Chose IBA over FAST(Karachi) for BS Computer Science?

By Rehan Ahmed on
October 22, 2015
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It’s been nearly 2 months since I joined IBA, not for BBA which is the favorite choice of almost every aspiring business student in Pakistan, but for pursuing Bachelors in CS, Computer Science!

For many, it may seem like a second option, for people failing to come on merit for the “elite” BBA course. Its after all, a one time chance to get into the prestigious IBA no matter what field they qualify for.

But that wasn’t the case with me. The field of technology has been my dream ever since a very good friend(and mentor) of mine introduced me to the world of tech blogging, which I started to pursue as a part time career in college days. The magic of 1s and 0s has been instilled in my mind ever since. I simply loved it because I knew I would do great in this field.

But, one might ask (and many still do) as to why I chose IBA over other CS-focused universities?

Well, living in Karachi and belonging to a middle-class family had its constraints although I have been an ambitious student who always managed to score pretty well at school and even secured an A-one in the each of the four years of Inter-Board exams. Like any other aspiring student, I also had to undergo the process of choosing a university for higher education. You all must have your journey in mind while reading this. Let me share mine…..

For me, going Abroad to world reputed universities like MIT, Stanford etc. was ruled out after not being able to score a scholarship. So, I started looking at local universities.

There are some really great local opportunities for aspiring computer science students like

  1. Faculty of Computer Sciences and Engineering, GIKI. 
  2. School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (SEECS), NUST
  3. Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering, LUMS

Personally saying, GIKI was an ‘expensive’ choice for me. I did try for SEECS, NUST which is one of best there is but failed to come on merit because my heart was more inclined towards LUMS and my focus was also on its test. Unfortunately, even after getting successful in qualifying for LUMS, as I failed to gain any financial aid from them, that choice was also overruled.

Ultimately, I moved on and qualified for FAST, Karachi which is believed to be the BEST institution for CS in Pakistan!

Why Not FAST (Karachi)?

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But fate had something else in mind and I left it for IBA, Karachi’s CS program.

Since then, where ever I go people ask “Why NOT Fast??” “Its the best for CS!” 

I wish they asked me “Why IBA?” instead of that. Yes, FAST is the best for studying CS but for me university education means so many more things! After seeing the campus of FAST-NU in Karachi, I may be blunt, but it isn’t really what you want a university to be.

This is why not:

  1. The Commute and The Karachi Campus: Firstly, being far out of the city means at least 3-4 hours of commute daily for a person like me living in Nazimabad, Karachi. Once you reach there after the hassle, the university isn’t much in itself as well. It’s pretty small and looks pretty out-dated, which I noticed when I visited it for the admission test. The area isn’t safe either, and you’d be hard pressed to find a single person who will feel comfortable staying at the university after dark.
  2. Adaption to what they teach: For a university whose main area is Computer Science, you expect them to have a great infrastructure and a smooth setup but when almost all of the students giving the admission test ran into issues with the server and the computers, I was disappointed.
  3. No University Life: Discussions with present and former FAST-ians simply added to my displeasure. The campus has no life whatsoever: the events are at a bare minimum, the schedule is incredibly hectic, they make you programmers by making you do programming, and that’s it….For what I was looking in a university is that they make me a person with diverse skill sets ultimately making me an entrepreneur, an innovator. I needed to have the capability to be able to reach the likes of big names of IT like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg. What did they all have in common apart from IT skills? They all had a vision, a confidence that they can achieve something greater, business sense to thinking out of the box while identifying the market value of their innovation.                                                                                                                                                                 FAST doesn’t give ample opportunity to their students for that! Innovation is the heart of technology and we techie-geek people cannot have the confidence to innovate without good managerial & interpersonal skills, I believe. Most of the BIG university level events come from ‘business’ schools if you look around. The IT focused institutions should provide more opportunities to their students for ample self grooming as well so that their personalities be polished and they can become the leading heads of innovation, entrepreneurship and business startup industries.Agreed?

That is where IBA came in!

Why IBA?

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I might have thought that it was a ‘fail-safe’ for me earlier on while applying for different universities, but as I started running out of options, I started looking into it seriously. Although known for its business endeavors but to my surprise, they have a really good computer science division too.

Established in 1983, with the collaboration of IBM, the Center of Computer Studies in IBA is now called “Faculty of Computer Sciences” and provides BS, MS and even PhD degrees in this field. The first BS-CS batch graduated in 2011 and since then, it has kept on growing.

The thing about Computer Science is that you don’t really need to have the best equipment or the best teachers(both of which IBA did have). You don’t even need to have a good reputation for being a technology university (the only thing IBA didn’t have), that’s just for the ones who do it purely for getting a job. As a person working as an IT journalist, I know a lot of things about this field that most students of my age normally don’t and job seekers in the IT field like software houses, Phone manufacturers, Telecoms don’t really see what university World Ranking is or how good is its technology program. They don’t need all that! But what they do need is a specific skill set in programming or whatever IT field (Software Engineering, Data Structures, Computer Systems,etc) you have graduated in. For what it’s worth, you can become an expert in that while sitting at home and get a job too. There are numerous online sources like Coursera, KhanAcademy, Udemy and many more where you can learn all this for free and in just a few weeks, I had already gained a lot of experience in basics of programming within just a few weeks through these sources. So why go to a university at all?

The university that you go to makes you who you are. It grooms you! It challenges you and opens you to opportunities.

And IBA did just that for me.

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  • Campus: It has one of the best, if not the best, campus for any university in Pakistan. There has been a article doing rounds on the social media recently about how the architectural-beauty of IBA’s Campus rivals some of the best-universities on earth, and I have to say, it is true to its very core. Fully air-conditioned classes and corridors, a truly wonderful student center, modern labs and overall, a world-class infrastructure, makes it truly stand out.
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  • The Dean And The Faculty: Having atleast 17 PhDs in CS, its faculty is nothing short of amazing. Programming is really hard and confusing in the beginning, but the teachers here take a very steady approach towards it with lots of practice involved. The dean, Ishrat Hussain needs no introduction. The pioneering force behind IBA becoming one of the best business schools around, Ishrat Hussain was also awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan this year for his work in the field of education.
  • Events: This is the ultimate advantage of IBA! It has some of the best events of any university around Pakistan, including MUNIK, ILC, Enigma, etc. Taking part in these makes you adapt in management too, which is an essential skill to have if you are going to go into entrepreneurship.
  • Entrepreneurship Opportunities: 5Pictured above, IBA recently launched its very own AMAN CED(Center for Entrepreneurial Development) through which it provides community and educational support to strengthen young entrepreneurs on campus. in collaboration with Nestle Pakistan, It has also launched an “Entrepreneurship Development Program”  to enhance managerial skills and experience of students. These opportunities convinced me to opt for IBA, as I ultimately wanted to enter the world of entrepreneurship.
  • Exposure: Enabling multi-disciplinary interaction with students of different departments during events guarantees exposure to other educational horizons which is not possible in a CS-only university. This boosts collaborations not only in business startups but also opens opportunity for inter-disciplinary research. Afterall, a good startup needs a blend of business sense and engineering skills.
  • Affordability: Nearly PKR.130,000(for CS) may not sound affordable for many, but still as its less expensive than its contemporary universities of same stature, like LUMS, GIKI, etc. With two campuses to chose from inside Karachi, and both situated in good locations, the travel cost is within range as well.

Uptil now, my experience of pursuing Computer Science at IBA has been as good as I had expected it to and I don’t regret my my decision at all so from now on, I recommend IBA instead of FAST to anyone who is looking to pursue Computer Science as their bachelors in Karachi. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that a lot of my fellows who ended up going to FAST, now regretfully agree with me on this one!

If you are a happy student of FAST or don’t agree with my choice for whatever reason you might have, I assure you that I won’t mind if you call me a biased self-indulged writer who likes IBA as a CS-student just because he is now stuck there.

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece, depicting the writer’s point of view based upon his own views and experience.

Photo Credits- Faraz Ali,Shabih Haider, PakistanDaily

 

 
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