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'Shortage of PhD teachers major hurdle in quality education'

LAHORE, Sept 14: A shortage of PhD teachers in the public sector Universities is a big barrier in the improvement of our educational set up, said Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Atta-ur-rehman. HEC is working to fill this gap, Dr Atta said at the 'Vice Chancellor's Conference' that was held at the Governor House on Thursday. Punjab Governor, VCs of all public sector universities of Punjab and HEC officials attended the conference.

Dr Atta said that the HEC had approved Rs 10.418 billion for projects in Punjab public sector universities, in addition to the already sanctioned amount of Rs 18.869 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). He said that with this approval, the total funds sanctioned for Punjab's higher education institutes for the year 2007-08 totalled Rs 35 billion.

He said efforts had been made to bring higher education at par with international standards. He said that our universities must meet society's needs for human resources in fields such as medicine, industry and agriculture. He said that Punjab requires at least 6,000 PhD scholars to meet needs of 122,000 post-graduates. He said that the province currently has 2,000 PhD scholars and thus a huge shortfall exists. He said that our universities should not produce students but graduates who can impact relevant sectors of society.

Dr Atta said that the commission introduced the e-books programme. He said that HEC had provided 40,000 free e-books, established digital libraries, linked Pakistani institutes with foreign ones, started tenure tracking system for teachers, hired foreign faculty, focused on research work and academic journals and worked on improving quantity and quality of higher education institutions. He also said that matters of governance and university leadership were areas of vital importance.

Punjab Governor Khalid Maqbool said that focus was laid on establishment of universities in southern Punjab. He said that funds were available for supporting new universities, strengthening of the current universities and faculty development. He said that the proposed development projects would strengthen existing academic programmes, introduce 20 to 25 new programmes and thus student enrolment would increase. He added that our graduates would be able to fulfil the requirement of the public and private sector.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Akram Sheikh stressed that universities should focus on need-based and market-oriented academic programmes. This would lead the country to economic progress and prosperity, he added. He said that Punjab University (PU) was currently focussing on increasing the number of departments but there was need to develop its existing departments. Daily Times
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