Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) during 2015-16 allocated Rs. 2000 million for promotion of research, a meeting was told here.
The 14th meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training was held at Higher Education Commission Secretariat on Wednesday. Dr. Amirullah Marwat, Chairman of the Standing Committee, presided over the meeting that was attended by Committee members, Mr. Baleegh-ur-Rehman, Minister of State for Federal Education, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC as well as senior management of the Commission.
Welcoming the Committee members to HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed apprised them of the functions and achievements of HEC since its inception in 2002. He briefed the meeting about allocation of grants to public and private sector universities during 2015-16, proposed development projects of HEC in the PSDP for financial year 2016-17, Prime Minister’s Fee Reimbursement Scheme for Less Developed Areas, Overseas Scholarship Scheme for MS, MPhil and PhD Programmes, and steps taken for promotion of higher education in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
The Chairman informed the Committee about HEC’s recurring as well as development grants for 2015-16, and elaborated the development in universities across the country, particularly during last three years. He said during 2015-16, Rs. 2000 million were allocated for promotion of research, Rs. 3000 million for tenure track system, Rs. 625 million for Pakistan Education and Research Network, Rs. 935 million for Digital Library, Rs. 650 million for Inter University Academic Activities, Rs. 450 million for Technical Assistance for Capacity Building, Rs. 598 million for different university programmes, in addition to Rs. 42.2 billion recurring grant for different categories of universities, including engineering, medical, agriculture, general, etc.
He said that HEC has formulated the draft PSDP 2016-17 proposal keeping in view the anticipated allocation of Rs. 25 billion for its ongoing and new initiatives in line with Vision 2025 and Government’s priorities for socio-economic development of the country.
Referring to the outcome of Fee Reimbursement Scheme, the Chairman said that scheme covers tuition fee, admission, laboratory, registration, examination, library, and research related expenditure for MS/MPhil and PhD studies. He said that initially 59 districts were covered under the scheme, while currently students from 114 districts are benefitting from this initiative, adding that a total of 94,751 students have so far benefitted. Areas included under the Scheme are all districts of Balochistan, whole of FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan, Southern Punjab, Interior Sindh, and selected districts of Punjab, KPK and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Terming HEC’s overseas scholarship scheme for MS/ MPhil and PhD a flagship programme, Dr. Mukhtar said that since its inception in 2002, the Commission has initiated various HRD scholarship programmes from undergraduate to PhD and post-doctorate level for development of human resource in different fields for socio-economic development of Pakistan. Describing different programmes for research, he also highlighted HEC’s zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism. He also briefed the members about international collaborations for promotion of higher education in the country.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed underscored the scope of Aghaz Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package and said that 600 scholarships including 200 overseas and 400 indigenous are being awarded to students from all districts of Balochistan. He said that HEC is taking stringent steps for promotion of higher education in Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including establishment of a university. He said that HEC scholarships are awarded in accordance with the quota prescribed by the Government of Pakistan.
He added that specific programmes have been initiated for students hailing from less developed areas of the country. He said that HEC is encouraging universities through various initiatives to promote a research culture in the country. He maintained that different measures are afoot to strengthen academia-industry linkages so as to derive outcome of research carried out in universities.
The Chairman also informed the Committee about proposal of building a fund for promotion of research entitled ‘Change Maker’ specifically for research on novel ideas to provide solutions. Highlighting the importance of commercialization of research, the Chairman said that Offices of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORICs) established in many universities are playing their due role to market research of faculty and students.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Amirullah Marwat recognized the importance of various HEC programmes and assured HEC of their complete support. He also assured HEC of their support to take action against illegal campuses of universities so that future of students could be safeguarded. He directed the HEC for releasing parent/ student alerts after every three months to inform the masses about illegal universities, their campuses and programmes.
Other members of the Committee who attended the meeting included Mr. Mohammad Nazir Khan, Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, Ms. Shaista Pervaiz, Ms. Amra Khan, Ms. Surriya Asghar, and Dr. Imran Khattak.