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HEC vows to take stern action against Varsities

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LAHORE – Public and private sector universities, sub-campuses and degree awarding institutions will be facing an imminent clampdown by the Higher Education Commission for not meeting the criteria vis-à-vis faculty requirement, and offering non accredited programmes and running illegal campuses/sub-campuses, across the country.

According to reports; The Higher Education Commission (HEC) setting a deadline of Dec 31 has directed the universities and higher education institutes (HEIs) across Pakistan to mend their ways as after the deadline these institutes would be directed to stop working while the same would also be made public through ‘Parents Alert’ campaign in media.

The HEC Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said this while talking to a group of journalists. Dr Mukhtar Ahmed disclosed that over a dozen universities (both in public and private sector) across Pakistan, including some in the Punjab province had been asked to stop their MPhil/PhD programmes at the moment as these varsities did not meet the criteria vis-à-vis required faculty members to start a MPhil/PhD programme.

‘All these varsities/HEIs would be made public and their programmes would be closed if these did not fulfill the requirements by Dec 31,’ said the HEC chief making it clear that no compromise would be made on quality education. As per the criteria set by the HEC, there should be at least two relevant full time PhD faculty members in a department to launch the MPhil/MS/MBA programmes, while there should be at least three relevant full time PhD faculty members in a department to launch the PhD programme. Also the maximum number of PhD students under the supervision of a full time faculty member is five which may be increased to eight under special circumstances in certain teaching departments subject to prior approval of the Commission.

Dr Mukhtar said a number of committees had been formed while all the four regional centres of the HEC had been in the loop to collect data about illegal campuses/ sub-campuses (also those opened under the public-private partnerships) and HEIs and scrutinise the programmes being offered by the varsities/institutes and review facilities available such as lecture theatres, teaching and admin staff offices, labs and computers (in case of IT courses etc).

Regretting that students usually fall prey to illegal campuses, he said the list of HEC recognised universities/institutes was available on the Commission’s website. ‘Nonetheless, we are now tightening up the screws on illegal institutes,’ he said, adding that the provincial governments would be urged to support the HEC in this regard.

The HEC chief while sharing future initiatives said over the years remote areas had been neglected in the past; so now special focus would be on backward areas to set up new universities and opening up campuses. He particularly mentioned Balochistan province, saying during his recent visit to Quetta regarding the Prime Minister’s Fee Reimbursement Scheme for less-developed areas, he was told that it was the first visit by HEC chief to the province in many years. He said it was heartening to see so many talented and committed students from some of the most neglected parts of this province. He said the HEC was also working on a plan to turn public sector universities across the country into Wi-Fi enabled campuses.

Talking about the provincial level commissions on higher education, he said there was no harm as long as these commissions complement each other perfectly rather than creating ambiguity and confusion. He said the role of these commissions should be clearly defined and should not supersede the role already performed by the HEC. He said that in order to avoid any ambiguity, such commissions at provincial levels should be named as Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) etc.

December 17, 2014

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