HEC Student Loan Programme

HEC Student Loan Programme to help needy students
Islamabad, Jan 05: Higher Education Commission (HEC) through its 'Student Loan Programme' will extend the opportunity of higher education to all the needy students of public and private institutions of higher learning. Talking to APP, HEC Executive Director, Sohail Naqvi informed that the HEC is in process of designing a model for development of a sustainable Student Loan Programme in Pakistan, which can help brilliant students in acquiring higher studies, extending loan facility to them.

The programme will benefit the students who are unable to get higher education due to financial constraints, following transparent procedures and best international practices. "the scheme will not only cover tuition fee of the students but all costs," he said. "We are discussing how the programme will be executed for those students in Pakistan who cannot afford to meet expenses of higher education. The students will be provided loan on subsidized interest rate with the condition of returning as soon as they become independent and get jobs," Dr Sohail said. The main focus is to prepare the policy document for the programme which can be acceptable for all the stakeholders, he said. Mostly regular banks remain at the front in extending loan facility for the students and this programme will be implementation in collaboration with the banks.

The commercial banks show lack of interest in such projects as they are not sure about return of loans. And these banks have no tools to verify either the student is deserving one or not, Dr Sohail observed.

A mechanism will be in placed at the institution level to verify the financial conditions of the students to make the programme more transparent. "We are preparing a preliminary design of the programme and discussing modalities in various scenarios with the special emphasis on supporting banks and protecting these from risk loan defaults," Dr Sohail said.

National Education Policy-2009 sets target to increase enrolment at higher education level from existing 4.6 per cent (1.1 million approximately) including colleges and distance education to 10 per cent by 2015 and 15 per cent by 2020 which meant tripling the enrolment of higher education sector in the next six years, he mentioned.

Recently, HEC officials held a meeting with the other stakeholders and discussed the designing and development of the draft of the programme in compliance with the directives of the President of Pakistan to develop a sustainable Student Loan Programme. The meeting was attended by State Bank of Pakistan Additional Director banking policy and regulation Mahmood Shafqat, Deputy Secretary (Finance) Aamir Mahmood, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Student Loan Scheme Wing vice president Shamim Iqbal, HEC Director General (Finance) Ghulam Mujtaba Kayani, and SAP/BAS Coordinator Khawaja Zahid Hussain.

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Education ministry for relocation of HEC
Islamabad: The Ministry of Education has presented a set of recommendations to NA Standing Committee on Education in which it reiterated to relocate Higher Education Commission (HEC) with it, apparently to end independent status of the commission entrusted with the task to monitor higher education learning in the country, the sources said here on Monday.

The text of recommendations available with this scribe revealed that the Ministry of Education advocated that HEC, already kept at Federal Level under Federal Legislative List, needs to be relocated with the ministry.

"University Grants Commission (UGC) always remained as a body of Ministry of Education till 2002, when it was re-designated as the Higher Education Commission (HEC). It needs to be relocated with the Ministry of Education," the recommendations said.

The draft recommendations have been submitted on the directives of Chairman NA Standing Committee on Education Abid Sher Ali who is getting input from all relevant departments over transfer of key powers of the ministry to the provinces under 18th Amendment.

It has also been stated in the recommendations to keep the Ministry of Education intact as per functions under Federal Legislative List and core curriculum up to Higher Secondary Level must be within the federal jurisdiction.

The ministry also insisted that Islamic Education and Centres of Excellence should remain federal subject as it has necessary infrastructure to effectively perform in these areas.

The sources said the high officials of the Ministry of Education were of the view that impact of 18th Amendment should be to the extent of transfer of matters/subjects included in the concurrent list and not on the matters given in Federal Legislative List.

The draft underlined the need not to affect administrative powers given in entry 15 to 17 in the Federal Legislative List including control over libraries, museums, federal agencies and institutes for research, technical training and promotion of special studies and dealing with issues related to Pakistani students studying in foreign countries.

It stated, "Article 142(d) of the Constitution continues to empower the Federal Parliament to legislate for such areas in the Federation which are not included in any province and authorize the Federal Government to exercise executive authority on subjects, which otherwise are not on the Federal Legislative List."

It has been stated that by virtue of this provision, the Ministry of Education would be responsible for 1.464 million students and 79,744 employees in Islamabad Capital Territory, Gilgit-Baltistan, Fata and AJK.

According to official data, a total of 13,216 education institutions having 1,463,554 students are working under the Ministry of Education in ICT, AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Fata. The number of employees in these institutions has risen to 79,744 - 61,189 (teaching) and 18,555 (non-teaching).

"Entry 31 in Part I of Federal Legislative List regarding Corporations also covers a number of statutory entities of Ministry of Education, which enjoy the status of body corporate such as National Book Foundation (Islamabad), Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (Islamabad) and Higher Education Commission," the draft maintained.

It further stated, "After omission of Concurrent List, 47 institutions/entities still remain under federal jurisdiction accruing from Part-I and Part-II of the Federal Legislative List. These should remain with the Ministry of Education."

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HEC asks Sindh governor to suspend charter of FAST Varsity
Islamabad: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has finally made a move to support its long trumpeted slogan of quality assurance and have written a letter to the Sindh governor to suspend the charter of University of EAST for not meeting the cabinet criteria.

According to well placed sources, a letter No 16-8/HEC/A&A/2009 dated December27, 2010 has been sent to Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan in which it has been asked to issue necessary instructions which mainly include suspension of charter of the University of Engineering, Arts, Science and Technology (EAST).

According to the information, University of EAST, Hyderabad, established under Sindh Act No. XI of 2004 on July 28, 2004. Despite the lapse of six years, the university has still not been able to meet the requirement of federal cabinet criteria.

Previously HEC's inspection committee has visited the university twice on August 20, 2007 and May 22, 2008. Each time the university could not meet the cabinet criteria and was asked to improve. The university was inspected for the third time by the committee, which included representatives of the charter inspection and evaluation committee (CIEC), Government of Sindh on November 11, 2010. The committee found that the university still lacks critical areas of infrastructure, finance, and qualified faculty, availability of required books and journals and laboratory facilities.

It is worth mentioning here that there was only one regular faculty member, whereas university offers a variety of degree programmes in applied subjects like BBA, MBA, BCS, MCS, Education, B.Tech, M.Tech and M.Phil programmes.

The issue of alleged involvement of the university in selling the degrees to non-bonafide students is also raised in the letter. According to the information, HEC had a severe political pressure for taking the decision back as a political worker of one of the major political party in the country also received a fake degree from the said university.

The letter also requested the governor to ask the management of the university to stop further admissions w.e.f. January 1, 2011 till the university meets the cabinet criteria requirement. Moreover degrees of those admitted on and after January 1, 2011 will not be recognised by the HEC.

It is pertinent to mention here that HEC has already published an advertisement in daily Jang, Rawalpindi on 31st December where it has warned parents and students that the degrees of students admitted after December 31, 2010 into University of EAST would not be recognised by the HEC.

It has been further asked that the governor should advise the university to transfer currently enrolled students to the other institutions of higher learning.

It has been established both by the HEC and CIEC, Government of Sindh, which the university remains a source of mushrooming substandard/low quality education, and was implicated in malpractices of business of underserved admissions and fake degrees. At present, the university has no registrar, no controller of examinations and no director finance.

It has also been mentioned in the letter that the president has extended the grace period for private/public degree awarding institutions to meet the requirements of cabinet criteria in term of physical, financial and academic infrastructure from June 30, 2008 to June 30,2010, which has also lapsed and poor state of affairs is prevailing in the university of EAST.

It further mentioned that the president has also desired that after the grace period, the charters of the universities/institutions not meeting the criteria requirements would be withdrawn and their status will be relegated to the level of affiliated colleges.

The performance of the University of EAST, Hyderabad, was reviewed in the 24th meeting of the commission held on November 30, 2010 wherein it was also decided that the existing category of the University of EAST 'Y' be reverted back to 'Z'.

HEC Chairman Javed Laghari confirmed that HEC was taking measures to suspend the charter of the University of EAST. "It is not the decision taken on the basis of assumptions but we have concrete evidences in this regard. Our team visited the campus thrice and had warned them repeatedly to meet the minimum criteria," he said. "We can't let the education institutions to darken the future of the youth. We want only those institutions to work that can impart quality education and can contribute to utilise the potential of youth," he said.

He said that HEC was very keen to improve the quality education in educational institutions and people would hear many more news in this regard.

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HEC to encourage institutions to use Turnitin
Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) is encouraging institutions to use Turnitin service to check assignments, papers, reports and thesis of students.

Turnitin allows students and instructors to review matches between the submitted work and the internet sources. Citations, quotations, and bibliographic material are all scanned by the Turnitin to determine an overall similarity percentage. This training and continuous interaction with students and scholars will help in developing quality research culture. A training session was held at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Islamabad for the NUST faculty to curb plagiarism in the universities.

Dr. Asif Raza, Pro Rector, chaired the session, NUST introduced integration of Moodle/Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Turnitin.

Trunitin has been provided to 60 public sector universities in order to check cut-paste text in documents like papers, theses, reports. Turnitin can be integrated in these LMS systems to save time and effort.

Many universities are using LMS for keeping track of whole academic activity. Moodle is an Open Source LMS, developed initially at Curtin University Australia, to automate the administration, documentation, tracking, and reporting of training events. LMS provides an online platform for both the teachers and students for extending learning outside the classroom boundaries. Dr. Khalid mentioned how the LMS team managed to successfully integrate Moodle and Turnitin. He thoroughly demonstrated how the system works. Muneer Ahmed, Deputy Director (Quality Assurance) HEC demonstrated three components of Turnitin like Originality Check, Peer Mark and Grade Mark.

He informed the participants that during 2009 almost 45000 documents were checked and only 18000 were within acceptable range, which shows that cut-paste culture still exists and there is a need to eradicate that through joint efforts. Quality Assurance Division of the HEC is working to improve research output in the country by taking different steps, including support to journals, tenure track system, faculty appointment criteria, MPhil and PhD criteria and provision of Plagiarism Detection Service (Turnitin) to the public sector universities. The news

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