HEC merger into the Ministry of Education issue
HEC may survive all merger attempts
Islamabad, Aug 31: With various quarters consistently making serious efforts to
merge Higher Education Commission (HEC) into the Ministry of Education, it is
likely to continue its working as an independent body, the reliable sources said here on Friday.
The sources said despite having a long list of
HEC's failures in some vital tasks assigned to it at the time of its inception
the officials who have been struggling to convince the high-ups of the
government for its merger with the Ministry of Education are going to give up
The sources further said that inability of HEC to
implement its plan to build campuses of nine European universities in Pakistan,
formulate its own service rules for recruitment of new employees and promotion
of existing staff members were some of the few allegations being levelled to
make an end to this body.
It was also alleged that the Establishment
Division had given clear direction for calling promotion board meetings at least
twice a year, however, HEC not called the same during past five or six years and
recruited and promoted people without following legal procedures.
also quoted in the meetings of the high officials time and again that HEC failed
to implement its another plan aimed at restructuring the existing universities
and bringing in new governance structures under the Model University ordinance.
The insiders, privy to the whole situation, also said that HEC was also blamed
for awarding charters to many substandard private universities and acquisition
of PhD degrees by individuals without any adequate quality assurance
The sources said the resilience shown by HEC to meet its
expenditures despite a drastic cut in its annual budget was one of the main
reasons that helped it avoid the axe from the government.
said it was a huge achievement of HEC when it succeeded to convince the World
Bank to provide it with budgetary support loan having 10-year grace period,
30-year repayment period on interest that is half a per cent.
officials who are quite optimistic about its future said prior to the launch of
its programmes, the annual research publication rate in universities was very
low but after start of cash reward per paper programme, the number of research
papers shot up to 1,482 in 2003-08 period, showing 235 per cent
They also cited the performance report issued by the World
Bank in 2006 that stated "HEC has placed quality improvement of the higher
education sub-sector at the centre of excellence."
The data collected
this correspondent showed that HEC awarded a total number of 6,626 local and
foreign scholarships during the last few years and now the number of students
studying in higher learning institutes have risen up to 700,000.
failure in building mega universities with foreign aid, the officials said the
project was scrapped because it was too big and too ambitious and given the
worldwide economic recession, it was no longer viable or even
They said the decision for a change in bachelors and masters
degree structure, restructuring of four years undergraduate programme and launch
of course based masters and PhD degrees was aimed at making academic structure
compatible with the best structure that is practised in the world.
officials said HEC purchased an anti-plagiarism service in 2007 and it has so
far been launched successfully in 60 public universities and faculty members of
these universities are being provided user ID and password through which they
can check theses and assignments of their students.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali,
who handed over the charge to new HEC chairman Dr. Javaid Leghari a day earlier, said HEC has rendered great services in promoting
higher education in the country.
She said total annual budget of HEC
would exceed up to Rs45 billion including Rs22 billion for development projects
and Rs23 billion for payment of salaries and other related
Dismissing various speculations about future of HEC, she
said every government department receives 20 per cent of its total budget in the
first quarter of the fiscal year and HEC has already received 10 per cent of its
budget and remaining 10 per cent would be received in the coming week.
a question about directives to the public sector universities to generate their
own funds, she said it happens everywhere in the world and all mainstream
universities always try to find ways and means to generate their own financial
"When we talk about generating funds by the public sector
universities, it does not mean that we lack funds but it is a practice being
followed all over the world to meet growing expenditures in the education
sector," she said.
Referring to various initiatives taken by the public
sector universities she said it is quite encouraging that linkages are being
developed between universities and other professional
Replying to a question, she claimed that there is not a
single student who had to return back due to unavailability of funds after
securing scholarship for any foreign university.
"Now I can assure one
thing that HEC is poised to come up as a viable and efficient body with an aim
to improve higher learning in the country," she said.
"Another appointment without a justification. has not got any research output except articles in newspapers but if this government can appoint Ms. Shaheen who was the corrupt director of sports at HEC and still survived all enquiries who cannot write a single paragraph is now the chairperson of FBISE any thing can happaen. "
Name: Shair Hashmi
City, Country: Pakistan
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Ill-planned and poorly equipped private universities
The number of private universities is increasing day-by-day. It is believed that
students who fail to gain admission in public universities or government medical
colleges go to private universities. This is partly true since public
universities offer a very limited number of seats in some disciplines.
Many good students who fail to gain admission in public universities
study in private universities. In most cases their merits are comparable. The
number of meritorious students seeking admission to the private universities is
also increasing day-by-day. It is a matter of great regret that most of the
private universities face the acute problem of hiring qualified teachers. Due to
shortage of full-time teachers, the private universities have become too
dependent on part-time/visiting teachers mostly drawn from the public
The migration of teachers from the public to the private
universities either as part-time or full-time teachers is also jeopardizing the
academic environment of the public universities in many instances. The curricula
of some selected universities are very scientific and compare well with any
modern university. Most of the private universities run their academic programme
on the semester system and have introduced four-year undergraduate courses.
However, as some of the universities do not have proper teaching strength, the
end result may not be very encouraging. Most of the private universities do not
have proper libraries and computer facilities good enough to cater to the need
of their students. The relevant reference books and standard foreign and
national journals are hardly found in the libraries of the private universities.
Almost all the private universities of the country face the problem of space and
accommodation. Although according to set conditions, the private universities
are supposed to develop their own campus, most of the private universities have
failed in this respect. The space problem has, in some instances, impeded the
infrastructure development needed for the development of a congenial academic
Permanent campuses are better because it is through a
campus that a university provides a setting for student interaction during some
very formative years of their life. This interaction contributes as much to the
learning process as the formal instruction. Some of the private universities
have developed a tendency to increase the number of existing departments while
their existing departments could not be fully furnished with teachers, books and
other necessary teaching materials. A balanced development of the university is
absolutely necessary but ill planned and inadequately equipped departments
without back-up facilities may be of little use for the promotion of higher
The private universities of the country are expected to
supplement the public universities and ease the pressure on the public
universities for admission. But the enrolment in the private universities hardly
fulfils this expectation. This situation is largely attributable to the
exorbitant fees charged by the private universities which are not affordable for
a large segment of students aspiring for admission to the private universities.
In other words, it can be said that the high cost keeps the students away from
the private universities.
Education at private universities is
exclusive. For this reason, the children of the middle-class or distressed
family go to public universities. Private universities have therefore failed to
a great extent to fulfil the expectation of the government to bring higher
education to the common people. It is very difficult to comment on the quality
of education in the private universities. There is no evaluation system for
this. Of course, the public universities also do not have any system of quality
One advantage of the public universities is that they draw
good quality students and also good quality teachers. They start from a stronger
base. This may not be true for all the private universities of Pakistan. One
common complaint about the governance of private universities is that it is too
personality based. Usually the person who takes the initiative in establishing
the private university dominates the administration. In some cases, it is the
initiator who virtually runs the university. It so happened that at least two of
the original initiators or sponsors had to leave their respective university
because of the sponsor syndrome.
In one particular university, there is
a provision, which enables the sponsor to chair the meeting of the academic
council. Moreover, it has been noticed that some of the initiators try to
control almost all the authorities by putting their own people in different
authorities. One of the objectives of the private universities was to create
skilled manpower for the economic development of the country. To ensure quality
education, the law requires that private universities submit a proper academic
plan with the guarantee of quality education. Quality education needs quality
teachers and quality students. But it is said that some of the private
universities do not follow the norms in the recruitment of teachers.
the other hand, some universities advertise on their websites for recruitment of
teachers. This is definitely a good trend they have set. Lists of teachers need
to be sent to Higher Education Commission (HEC) on a regular basis. The HEC
should monitor the recruitment of faculty on a regular basis and also should
check the number of faculty actually available in the department to teach. The
selection committee should be well defined. The HEC can nominate one expert on
the selection committee.
The HEC should make the procedure for
recruiting foreign faculty simple and effective. On the whole, though, it can be
said that some selective private universities have been able to attain the
objectives of the private university concept to a certain extent. Those
institutions should be encouraged by the government, the HEC and the community
to improve further. The establishment of private universities has increased
access and choice in higher education. If the government comes forward and
addresses the issues raised above, we will achieve even better results in the
future from the private universities.
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Pindi colleges to open today
Rawalpindi: All colleges of the
Rawalpindi division would open today (Monday) after additional summer vacations.
Director Colleges Dr Mohammad Ashraf stated this in a statement issued here on
Sunday. He urged the students to ensure their presence in the college from the
very first day on Monday.
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Prof Saqib awarded PhD degree
Islamabad: Professor Saqib Riaz has been awarded PhD degree in Mass
Communication, says a press release.
He is associated with the Mass
Communication Department of the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. He
conducted his PhD research on the Agenda Setting Role of Print Media in Pakistan
under the supervision of Professor Dr. Miskeen Ali Hijazi (late) who remained
the chairman of the Mass Communication Department at Punjab University, Lahore.
The dissertation of Dr. Saqib Riaz has been evaluated and approved by
three American Professors Dr. Salma Ghanem, dean, Central Michigan University
(USA), Professor Paul Voakes, dean, University of Colorado (USA) and Professor
Dr. James Kelly from Indiana University (USA). All the three American Professors
appreciated the research project of Dr. Saqib Riaz and stated his thesis as one
of the best dissertations written in the developing countries of the world.
Dr. Saqib Riaz has received several awards and honors during his
professional career. He got his higher professional education from International
Institute of Journalism, Berlin, Germany. He is author of two books on
journalism and his scores of research articles have been published in national
and international research journals.
He has the honor to deliver
lectures in various universities and institutes in Europe and Asia.
Before joining the university, he was associated with a couple of
national Urdu newspapers as magazine editor. The news
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