Government's decision to attach HEC with ministry raises questions
Islamabad, June 16: The decision of the government to attach the Higher Education Commission (HEC) with the Ministry of Professional and Technical Training has raised serious questions regarding its autonomous status which has served the HEC well in performing its basic task of promoting and facilitating higher education in the country.
In the last nine years, the Pakistani universities have produced more PhDs (3,280) than in the first 55 years (3,000). Research output has grown eight folds since 2002 (from 815 in 2002 to 6,200 in 2011). Around 80% of these research publications are coming from higher education institutions.
The output has more than doubled just in the last three years and is expected to double again in the next three years. Nearly 5,000 scholars from Pakistan have been facilitated to present their research work in leading conferences of the world.
In a meeting of vice chancellors from public universities organised in the capital recently, the issue was the focus of discussion along with the problem of dearth of funds for higher education institutions.
Sources said that VCs were unanimous of the opinion that the autonomous status was the main factor that helped the HEC in achieving its targets. They said that making it subservient to any government office would mean political influence on the decision-making at every level in the HEC.
"It was the control on political interference within the HEC which led to transparency in all its projects and there was not a single complaint against the decisions of the HEC in last nine years. All decisions were talent and merit based," said sources adding that the decision would definitely affect the performance of HEC in future.
The VCs urged the relevant authorities to first hold discussion on the decision so that they don't regret the decision after five years. "They said that universities are creative organisations and this freedom of creativity requires non-political environment and independent decisions," sources pointed out.
When contacted, Vice Chancellors Committee Chairman Imtiaz Hussain Gilani confirmed that VCs expressed concern over the future course of action for HEC after this decision and issue of autonomous status during a meeting held on June 13.
The meeting was mainly organised to discuss challenges being faced by the higher education sector in Pakistan, especially the release of remaining funds for the fourth quarter of financial year 2011-12 for the HEC.
The funds for the fourth quarter of financial year 2011-12 for HEC, including Rs4.6 billion recurring and Rs6.8 development funds, have not been released so far by the government.
The remaining recurring budget of Rs4.6 billion will cater to the 50 per cent increase in salaries that was announced by the Prime Minster for this financial year.
In this regard, the Finance Division has issued letter to the HEC that the federal government will provide the additional Rs4.6 billion to the universities during the fourth quarter. As a result the universities have incurred huge liabilities and had borrowed from banks and diverted funds from other budget heads to pay the salaries at the enhanced rate with the hope that the same would be provided by the federal government as per its promise.
Furthermore, thousands of scholars pursuing PhD abroad would be adversely affected as a result of non-release of development funds amounting to Rs6.8 billion for the last quarter of this financial year.
It is feared that due to non-release of payment of tuition fee and stipend of these scholars will create huge embarrassment for the government of Pakistan across of the world.
Non-release of development funds will also adversely affect the ongoing development projects especially in the newly established and rural based universities established in the far-flung areas of Pakistan.
The vice chancellors also informed that the provincial governments have also refused to extend financial support to the universities as they consider that it is the responsibility of federal government till 2014.
During the meeting, it was further resolved that public sector universities will not be able pay twenty percent increase in salaries proposed in new budget as the federal government has not yet released the previously increased 50 per cent and 15 per cent increase in salaries.
The source said that the HEC has already apprised President, Prime Minister and Governor and Chancellors of respective provinces about the ongoing financial crisis of higher education sector.
NUML holds Job Fair
Islamabad: The Seventh Annual Job Fair was organised by the Department of Management Sciences (MS) at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on Friday, says a press release.
More than 25 national and international companies conducted interviews, including Askari Bank Limited, Fauji Foundation, ZTE Pakistan, Hashoo Foundation, Jubilee Life Insurance, Mustakbil.com, Islamabad Sarena Hotel, SNL Finances, Sina Institute, Al-Mashriq Trust, Mediator Advertising, HRDN, Asia Foundation, Saba International Education and Welfare Trust, Rotary International, Oober Software House, Khubaib Foundation, PFFB, Moomoos International, Opal Studio and many others. Moreover, a large number of students, including old and new, participated in the job fair.
The fair was inaugurated by Khurshid Zafar, group head commercial banking of the Askari Bank Limited. The opening ceremony was attended by NUML Director General (DG) Brigadier Azam Jamal, Syed Tauqeer Haider Rizvi, regional general manager north of the Askari Bank Limited, Khalid Ejaz Malik, acting area manager (Islamabad) of the Askari Bank Limited, Dean MS Department Dr Rasheed, Head of MS Department Naseer Rajpoot, faculty members, representatives of different companies and a large number of students.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Khurshid Zafar told students that as fresh graduates, the first lesson from the practical world is to prepare you for the hard journey ahead. Grades, honours and appreciation letters will look great on your CV, but companies are not hiring degrees or medals that you have earned over years. Companies hire the person that you are. "You will have to learn to sell yourself since your CV barely offers you an entry into the door of employer. Treat yourself as a product and build yourself as a brand," he added.
Speaking on the occasion, NUML Director General Brigadier Azam Jamal said that the university was committed to utilising all resources to help students hone their skills, develop their link with places they are looking forward for jobs, maintain liaison with industry and get appropriate jobs.
Head of MS Department Naseer Rajpoot said that prior to this students are properly trained for making their CVs, appearance in interviews and exhibiting their communication skills and then department publishes a booklet that includes the profile of all those students who have appeared in their final examinations and seeking jobs.
"Moreover, the purpose of the job fair is to provide a platform to bring together employers and job seekers, introduce students to opportunities available in the market, developing liaison between the department and industry and introduce students to market requirements with reference to their academic specialties and assisting them in finding a niche," he added.
A student of BBA VIII, Ayesha Fayyaz, who also appeared in an interview, said: "The exercise of going through an interview is great learning and it has helped her and her fellows to know what exactly can make them a suitable candidate an employer is looking for."
Federal college teachers promoted
Islamabad: Over 1,000 teachers of Federal Directorate of Education, in different grades have been promoted Friday, on the basis of time scale formula, says a press release.
A special promotion committee was constituted under the headship of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Ellahi to promote these teachers under the instruction of CADD minister. This is first time in the history of Education department that a large number of college teachers have been promoted to next grades.
The spokesman for Federal Government College Teachers Association said, "We thank the Minister for CADD. The college teachers had been waiting for the implementation of the special package for them since it was announced by the prime minister on October 8, 2010. In the absence of a Minister this issue was lingering on. The education wing of CADD had been showing indifferent behaviour in the promotion of college teachers. FGCTA had been informing the administration in this connection about the gravity of the issue of promotion of college teachers repeatedly but the education wing of CADD has always turned a deaf ear in this regard. As a result, the college teachers had been obliged to come out on the roads last year. We pledge to continue our struggle for the welfare of college teaching community. The credit also goes to Noor Zaman Joint Secretary Admin too who took pain, prepared and implemented the time scale formula."
Dr Siraj elected as AIOU executive council member
Islamabad: Professor Dr. Syed Abdul Siraj, chairman of the Department of Mass Communication, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), was elected as member of the university's executive council for a period of three years.
He was elected through majority vote against the seat reserved for professors of the university. The executive council is the highest policy-making body of the university.
AIOU Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Nazir Ahmed Sangi congratulated Professor Dr. Syed Abdul Siraj on his election and hoped that his presence in the executive council will help in promoting the academic standard of the university and improving its effective role in providing quality education to students.
BD students team visits HEC
Islamabad: A 20-member delegation, comprising students from various universities of Bangladesh, visited Higher Education Commission (HEC) here in Islamabad as part of their study tour to Pakistan.
HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid R Laghari welcomed the delegation and briefed them about the various HEC initiatives in the higher education sector of Pakistan.The students in their remarks greatly admired the quality of teaching, research and development in higher education sector of Pakistan especially in the fields of engineering and sciences. Over the desire of the delegation, the HEC chairperson announced that the HEC would send its cricket team to Bangladesh.
The delegation was comprised of students from various social sciences departments of Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Jahangirnagar universities and led by University of Chittagong's Professor Dr Abul Khair.
The delegation visited about twenty higher education institutions of Pakistan in three major cities of Pakistan including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore and exchanged views with the vice chancellors, faculty and students. The tour was arranged by the Higher Education Commission under student exchange programme.
In their remarks the students emphasised over more educational linkages and active role of SAARC, a regional organisation established by seven South Asian countries to undertake cooperation among the member countries. The news