HEC budget cut & higher education

HEC budget cut may slow down higher education momentum
Islamabad, June 11: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) brought radical changes in the system and Pakistani universities started surfacing in the coveted list of worldwide ranking of universities. The budget cut of HEC would have a drastic affect, and the momentum gained to obtain higher education might slow down.

These thoughts were expressed by Heavy Industries Taxila Education City (HITEC) University Vice Chancellor (VC) Brigadier Qamar uz Zaman during an exclusive interview.

He said that the HEC has introduced the culture of higher education, which resulted in a remarkable change. "A new trend of obtaining higher qualifications surged in the heart and mind of educationists, and was sustained due to substantial fund allocation to the HEC," he said.

He said that the university established its Quality Enhancement Cell (QEC) in 2009 and the HEC-formulated questionnaires are used. "The feedback from students is regularly obtained and analysed for improvement in quality of teaching. 'The Faculty Feedback' has also identified various areas of strength," he added.

Answering a question regarding establishment of linkages between universities and industries, he said that establishing linkages with industries is a challenging task. However, during the last two years the HITEC University has signed MoUs with the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), Askari Cement, Heavy Electrical Complex, NRSP-Institute of Rural Management (N-IRM) and the National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC). "We are already involved in joint research projects with these organisations and it is expected that positive results will emerge in near future. Meanwhile, we are also looking forward to develop more linkages with the industry," he said.

Briefing on the future plans of the university, he said that universities are ranked according to their research output. Being aware of this fact, the faculty is encouraged to contribute positively towards this end, as is evident from our publications and research ranking attained in a short span of time. "The university has also embarked on doctorate level programmes in Engineering and Mathematics. In addition, students of undergraduate programmes are also encouraged to do creative work," he said.

He said that the university was also striving to induct a number of new disciplines in Engineering and Mathematics whereas launching of Computer and IT programmes is also in the offing. "To support the educational activities, equal priority to develop infrastructure of the university is also taken care of in parallel. It is our constant and continuous effort to achieve the best possible standards while promoting the educational environments of HITEC University and hope that in near future our effort will bring us in the line of one of the best education providers," he added.

He, however, said that there were certain areas that require attention that mainly include hiring and retention of experienced, well-qualified and dedicated faculty members with good teaching and research experience. "Although HITEC University is not engineering specific, however, it was appreciated that most of the students will register in our engineering programme, and hence all efforts to establish well equipped and excellent laboratory facilities capable of imparting practical training to the students.

Presently, there are over 25 fully functional engineering/computer laboratories where students perform practical training. This is a major hallmark of HITEC University distinguishing it from others," he said.

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20 Rootsians to attend summer camp in China
Islamabad: As many as 25 students of Roots School System on June 8 got an opportunity to meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

On the occasion, the Chinese Information Ministry delegation and young Rootsians presented cultural performances. A pre-departure seminar, chaired by RSS Executive Director Chaudhary Faisal Mushtaq, was also arranged at the Roots High School for parents and students. Its purpose was to facilitate parents by giving them a clear picture of the Chinese Summer Camp.

Chaudhary Faisal Mushtaq, while speaking on the occasion, said: "It is a universally acknowledged fact that besides ideal geographical proximity, our two countries of China and Pakistan enjoy exemplary bilateral relations in almost every sphere of life. However, I do feel in Sino-Pak bilateral relations there are social, cultural and language barriers. Hence, this initiative is being taken with a futuristic, pragmatic and foresighted vision as we foresee with aspirations the Chinese language to take over the global cultural scenario as a lingua franca in near future. As the idea sponsor of this programme, I aim to further strengthen our time-tested, reciprocal relationship and to remove communication gap which is the only barrier impeding the maximum possible and desired echelon of social interaction plus imminence between these two peoples."

He said that a team of 20 high school students, escorted by two head teachers, will visit China from June 15 to July 1 to attend a Summer Camp. The 2011 Chinese Bridge Summer Camp for School & College Students is co-organised by Hanaban Shangdong University and the Confucius Institute, Islamabad, according to the Pakistan-China Joint Statement. This programme is listed as a special project by the Confucius Institute, Islamabad, in its annual plans and the Chinese university will finance this programme.

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Nighat stands by sexual harassment allegations
Peshawar: Lawmaker Nighat Yasmeen Orakzai here Friday said that she has been proved right in alleging that there was sexual harassment of female students at the University of Peshawar because a lecturer of the university had been found guilty and was facing punishment.

Talking to us while reacting to a report published in this newspaper, she said that History Department lecturer Zahid Ali had already been suspended after being found guilty of sexual harassment. Nighat Orakzai, who belongs to the PML-Q, disputed the claim of Provincial Minister Sitara Ayaz that no concrete evidence of sexual harassment charges against some of the teachers could be found.

"I had already expressed no-confidence in the probe committee headed by the minister. She herself told me earlier that a lot of female students were coming forward to complain about sexual harassment at the UoP, but now she is saying that something different," the provincial legislator argued.

"I raised the sexual harassment issue in the provincial assembly for the sake of our children. I have faced problems after raising this issue but at the same time many girls approached me from all over the country to confirm my allegations and support my stance. Parents met to corroborate my concerns about sexual harassment," she claimed.

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UET teachers defend PhD theses
Peshawar: Babar Nazir of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Safiur Rehman of the Department of Mining Engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) successfully defended their PhD theses. A press release said Babar Nazir, who was supervised by Prof Dr Azzam ul Asar, did his PhD thesis on the use of swarm intelligence techniques to develop a QoS-based routing protocol for MANETs. Safiur Rehman, whose PhD work was supervised by Dr Waqar Ali Asad, defended his thesis on the long-term and short-term scheduling of mining operations in cement quarries. He presented the results of his work using the real world case of DG Khan Cement Company Limited. The news

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UoP workshop
Peshawar: The Area Study Centre of the University of Peshawar is organising a weeklong workshop on "selection of research topic, research methods and writing M.Phil/PhD research proposals/dissertations".

The workshop will assist research scholars of M.Phil and PhD enrolled in various universities of the country.

Higher Education Commission and Hanss Seidel Foundation, Islamabad have provided support for this workshop to be held from June 13 to 18, at Bara Gali, Summer Campus of the University of Peshawar.

Prof Dr Syed Sakhawat Shah, Vice-Chancellor, Hazara University, Mansehra, will inaugurate the workshop.

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PhD degree
Peshawar: Research scholar, Faiz-ur-Rehman, has been awarded PhD degree after successful defence of his PhD thesis. The topic of his research was 'Impact of Afghan War on Kashmir Freedom Struggle'.

The writer in his defence focused on the era from 1979 to 2010 and described the thirty one years in two phases in terms of Kashmir Freedom struggle: Pre 9/11 and Post 9/11.

He said after the Soviet invasion on Afghanistan in 1979, the concept of Jihad was promoted among Muslims around the world especially in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. app

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