UK's Higher Education | HEC debating contest
Loopholes in the UK's Higher Education sector
April 24: The bylaws of almost all UK universities are short of using the word
'shall' and they substitute it with the words 'will' and 'should'
the purpose of education, the UK is divided into two halves: England
(and Northern Ireland) and Scotland. Each of them has its own body that
supervises quality assurance in its part of the higher education sector.
For instance, in England (and Northern Ireland), the job is carried out
by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education while in
Scotland it is the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).
2011, the UK government published a white paper, 'Students at the Heart
of the System' to enhance quality assurance in higher education through
the participation of students. In the light of this, the QAA is trying
to find new ways of reviewing quality assurance in higher education to
be implemented in the universities of England (and Northern Ireland) by
September 2013. Similarly, in order to augment quality assurance at
Scottish universities in the light of the Sinclair report, the SPSO
issued its Model Complaints Handling Procedure (MCHP) for Higher
Education in December 2012 to be adopted by all Scottish higher
education institutes by September 2013. The UK government's white paper
laid emphasis on the standardisation of criteria for assessing academic
standards and the quality of the student learning experience at all
universities and colleges; the Sinclair report recommended the adoption
of a standardised MCHP in all Scottish universities and colleges.
the UK's every university is driven by two factors: first, how to meet
its financial earning targets set for any given year, and second, how to
improve its position on the universities' ranking table. Any incident
of compromise on quality assurance affects adversely a university's
ranking, and consequently, its financial targets. Though the
standardisation of the assessment process and the standardisation of
MCHP were long overdue, they share a common point: the emphasis of both
is still on procedures. This is despite the fact that the cause of the
compromise on quality assurance in the past used to be the universities'
devising mechanisms to bypass the procedures but retaining their
positions on any ranking table.
One of the ways to assure quality
through procedures is by obtaining feedback from students. It is a
common practice in the UK's universities that teachers (lecturers and
professors) and graduate or post-graduate school administrators
influence students, especially overseas students, either to give
positive feedback or to make oneself absent from the session meant for
gathering feedback from them, whether or not the feedback is obtained at
the university or the supra-university level (by the QAA or the SPSO).
question is this: can an overseas student dare refuse any such
'request' made by a teacher or administrator? The answer is in the
negative because the student is told that in case of noncompliance
his/her supervisor will not issue a favourable letter of reference to
help him/her forward his/her career in the future. It is difficult for
an overseas student to turn down such a request because his/her stakes
are higher than home students. In this way, the letter of reference has
become a major blackmailing instrument in the hands of supervisors (and
course administrators). The threat of writing adverse remarks in the
letter of reference is used to silence those students who are vocal
against the delivery of low quality education and research at the UK's
universities. In this regard, both the QAA and the SPSO have failed to
introduce any mechanism to know why a student is absent from the
feedback session or why a student has not submitted the feedback at all,
especially where the name of the student is mandatory to be mentioned.
Secondly, both the QAA and the SPSO have failed to make it mandatory on
all students including overseas students to submit their feedback.
Thirdly, both the QAA and the SPSO have failed to determine the
difference between representative feedback and non-representative
The second type of students' comments on quality
assurance in the UK's higher education is through the complaints they
lodge against the universities in the universities. Again, both the QAA
and the SPSO lay emphasis on the procedure of complaints adopted by the
UK's universities. Complaints and their procedures are described in the
bylaws of the UK's universities. Interestingly, in the bylaws of one
university, one provision (law) is present while in the bylaws of
another university another provision (law) is present. For instance, in
the bylaws of several UK universities (without naming any university),
the word 'complaint' has not been defined or if it is defined the word
'compensation' has been omitted. Similarly, certain universities do
mention the term 'appropriate and reasonable compensation' in their
bylaws but do not explain the meaning of that term. Likewise, the bylaws
of almost all UK universities are short of using the word 'shall' and
they substitute it with the words 'will' and 'should'. The absence of
key terms prohibits students, especially overseas students, from filing a
complaint and reporting their grievances. Again, the procedure is
ineffective in assuring quality in the UK's higher education sector. In
this regard, both the QAA and the SPSO have failed to focus on the
standardisation of the bylaws of the UK's universities. Secondly, both
the QAA and the SPSO have failed to notice the absence of key terms from
the bylaws of the UK's universities.
At this juncture, the
concern of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan should be
whether the degree obtained by an overseas Pakistani student from even
any top ranking UK university is the same (not by its name or caption
but) in quality that the HEC had thought it would be?
other loopholes in the UK's higher education sector, which have not been
mentioned here owing to the limitation of words. If the British Council
(which speaks on behalf of the British High Commission) considers it
appropriate, the challenge of debate given to it by this writer on the
topic on April 10 this year is still open.
Dr Qaisar Rashid (The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at email@example.com) Daily times
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Universities gear up for HEC's 15th debating contest
Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) will organise 15th
National Inter University Debate Contest for the Allama Iqbal Shield on
About 30 contestants from public and private sector higher education institutions from all over the country are participating.
Sania Nishtar, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Information
Technology and Education & Training will be the chief guest on the
occasion, said a news release issued here on Monday.
HEC chairperson, Dr Javaid Laghari and HEC executive director, Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed will also speak on the occasion.
The Higher Education Commission has been successfully organising All Pakistan Inter-University Debate Contest for many years.
The aim is to enhance communication skills and understanding abilities of the students.
contest is first organised at the universities level wherein students
from all the departments and constituted colleges take part.
round is organised at regional level in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta,
Peshawar and Rawalpindi (for Federal, AJK, FATA/Gilgit-Baltistan
The final round is organised at HEC Islamabad where
top scoring teams (consisting of two students) and one individual top
scoring student (other than the team) is selected for the second round
of English and Urdu debates.
The winners of first, second and third positions at final round both in English and Urdu debates are awarded Cash Prizes.
Allama Iqbal Shield is also awarded to each winning university on the
basis of highest cumulative score in English and Urdu debates.
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Punjab University wins inter-university drama competition
Islamabad: Punjab University on Monday secured first position in the
inter-university drama competition organised by Preston University.
Preston University organised the event as part of its ongoing Spring
Splash 2013, said a press release here.
The Institute of Space Studies
(IST), Islamabad was awarded second position, third position in the
drama competition was awarded to the team of Preston University,
Islamabad. Quaid-e-Azam University, Air University, Islamabad, Punjab
University, Lahore, University of Peshawar, Institute of Space
Technology, Islamabad, Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi and
Preston University, Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore campuses participated
in the competition. Shakil Imran Badar, eminent media consultant,
coordinator and producer was the chief guest on the occasion. Shakil
Badar profoundly eulogised the acting prowess of the young students who
participated in the competition. He particularly lauded the brilliant
performances of the students of the winning teams of Punjab University,
Institute of Space Studies and Preston University.
University, Dr. Abdul Basit also immensely appreciated the extraordinary
talent of the students who performed in the drama competition. Dr.
Abdul Basit heartily congratulated the winners and distributed prizes
among the first, second and third position holders.
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PU holds inter-university singing competition
Islamabad: Preston University (PU), Islamabad organised an
inter-university "Singing Competition at Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai
Auditorium on Tuesday as part of 'Spring Splash 2013'.
competition was split into two categories – male and female. University
of Peshawar, Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, and Preston
University Islamabad and Karachi participated in the female competition.
Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Arid Agriculture University,
Rawalpindi, University of Peshawar, Federal Urdu University, Islamabad,
Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, and Preston University,
Islamabad, Kohat and Lahore campuses participated in the male category
of singing competition.
In the female category, Nosheen Qayyum of PU,
Islamabad beat her competitors from other universities out by her
brilliant singing skills. app
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Interim govt issues notification for formation of HEC Task Force
Islamabad: Notification of the Higher Education Commission (HEC)'s Task Force by the interim
government can be a big step forward in further defining the role of the
HEC for safeguarding development of higher education and research in
Pakistan and in the provinces parallel to the national strategic
interests and global competitive levels.
The views were
shared by HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid R Laghari in an exclusive talk with
'The News'. He said that if the Task Force is notified during interim
set-up, the HEC would be able to start the consultative process and do
the homework before the new government takes the charge.
task force titled 'Task Force on Higher Education and Research 2012'
was a consultative forum formed in the year 2011 to review HEC Act 2002
in the post 18th Amendment constitutional scenario based on analysis of
HEC performance and achievements since its establishment (2002-12),
observance of global trends, requirements of national development and,
wide-ranging consultations with the provinces and the stakeholders.
task force in view of the 18th Amendment was assigned to put forward
its recommendations to the Prime Ministers' High Powered Committee for
structure, autonomy and role of the HEC that will safeguard development
of higher education and research in Pakistan and in the provinces
parallel to the national strategic interests and global competitive
levels and in full compliance with the Constitution of the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan.
It was formed by the high-powered
committee constituted by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to
resolve the post devolution issues of various ministries and divisions
including the HEC.
The high-powered committee comprised
the then federal minister for religious affairs Syed Khurshid Ahmad
Shah, federal minister for communications Dr. Arbab Alamgir Khan,
federal minister for science and technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali,
federal minister for inter- provincial coordination Mir Hazar Khan
Bijarani, secretary establishment division, secretary cabinet division,
secretary finance division, secretary planning and development division
and secretary inter provincial coordination division.
first meeting of the high-powered committee was held on October 27, 2011
in which, among other agenda items, the post devolution role of Higher
Education Commission (HEC) was discussed.
Dr. Javaid R
Laghari, chairperson who represented HEC in the meeting briefed the
committee on the formation and the functions of the HEC, and its
performance over the last 10 years.
Dr. Laghari stated
that the Implementation Commission had recommended amendments in the
Higher Education Ordinance, 2002, aimed at retention of eight functions
of the HEC. He stressed upon the importance of the role of Higher
Education Commission in the promotion of higher education in the
country. His assertion was that the above-proposed changes would render
the HEC ineffective.
He suggested that before any
restructuring was undertaken, there is a need to study models in other
countries like Malaysia, India, Turkey, etc. He also suggested that
there was a requirement to revisit the Higher Education Ordinance, 2002,
and after an independent study through a task force decide which
function to continue and which functions to devolve.
his proposal, the high powered committee decided that 'The Higher
Education Commission may suggest a national committee of experts which
shall constitute the task force. This task force shall submit its
recommendations to be placed before the high powered committee and
subsequently submitted to the prime minister and the cabinet.'
the composition and Terms of Reference for the Task Force were
discussed in 25th and 26th meetings of the Commission (the 18-member
Governing Body of HEC) held on March 8, 2012 and May 3, 2012. The
commission, after detailed deliberations, proposed TORs and composition
of the Task Force on Higher Education and Research.
task force had representation form HEC, public sector universities,
provincial governments, business community, parliament, planning
division, finance division, educationists and scholars and economists.
task force on Higher Education and Research had to make recommendations
to Prime Minister's High Powered Committee on the status, structure,
and level of autonomy of the federal HEC and the proposed provincial
HECs so that new legislations in uniformity can take place at the
Federal and Provincial levels.
The task force had to
finalise and present its recommendation within a period not exceeding
six months of notification of the Task Force by the Prime Minister's
High Powered Committee.
said that amendments can only be made after consultation with the
national and provincial legislators. "The notification of Task Force at
this stage will give time to the HEC for preparation and homework for
the consultative process."
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Research institute discusses collaboration with UVAS
Lahore: University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Lahore and International
Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) discussed possibilities of
collaboration in research, training and value chain activities for the
development of livestock sector.
According to a press
release issued on Monday, a two-member ILRI delegation, comprising its
Agricultural Economist Mils Teufel and Regional Project Coordinator Sri
Lanka Prof MNM Ibrahim, called on Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Talat Naseer
Pasha and discussed areas of collaboration between the two institutes.
Dean Animal Production Technology Prof Dr Muhmmad Abdullah, Prof Dr
Nasim Ahmad and UVAS Business Incubation Centre Director Dr Arshad H
Hashmi were also present.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Talat
Naseer Pasha briefed the delegation on academic, research, extension and
advisory services of UVAS. He said that UVAS was actively involved in
development-oriented applied research and other activities besides
imparting education and training to students, professionals,
paraprofessionals and farmers. He said that university was running Rs
355. 68 million research projects which university faculty had won from
national and international funding agencies.
told the delegation that UVAS had the largest DNA bank of different
species of animals while University Diagnostic Laboratory conducted the
highest number of ISO-certified conventional and molecular diagnostic
tests for livestock and poultry.
UVAS Quality Operation
Lab was also producing vaccines by using local strains against foot and
mouth disease and hemorrhagic septicemia, which was quite effective in
both diseases at the same time, he said, adding that UVAS 24/7 Extension
Service was providing services to farmers on their doorsteps around the
The delegation members said the ILRI was working
on improving food security and reducing poverty in developing countries
through research for better and more sustainable use of livestock. They
desired collaboration with UVAS in research, training and value chain
activities in livestock sector. The news
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