Govt assures all-out help to boost higher education

Islamabad: Minister of State for Education and Training Baleegh-ur-Rahman has appreciated the performance of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and universities across Pakistan, and ensured that the Government will do every possible effort for further development of higher education sector.

He was speaking as chief guest at the Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting held at Islamabad on Thursday, which was attended by Vice Chancellors and Rectors from all public sector universities of Pakistan. The meeting was organized by HEC.

The Minister said that the Government would gradually increase the budget for education and will take it to four per cent of the GDP. He emphasized that less developed areas and institutions will be given preference for disbursement of funds.

Appreciating the university heads for their role in strengthening the higher education sector, he said that their suggestions for improvement in the education sector, including primary and secondary education, will be taken seriously. He also mentioned Ministry’s request to HEC for developing minimum entry standards for universities of Pakistan.

Baleegh-ur-Rahman agreed with the Vice Chancellors that education should be a federal subject, especially curriculum development. “If each province develops its own curriculum, it will create disconnect among different units of the country,” he said.

In his welcome address, Engr. Imtiaz Hussain Gilani, Chairman HEC thanked the Minister for taking out time for listening to problems and challenges of Pakistani universities. He said that proposed changes in the higher education setup in some provinces are dangerous for future of university education. He requested the Government to ensure the autonomy of the higher learning institutions otherwise “it will compromise the quality of education.”

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed reiterated HEC’s stance that access to higher education will be increased, adding that the universities should be very careful while opening new campuses and offering affiliation to colleges. He stressed the importance of improving quality and not compromising it at any cost. Mentioning HEC’s concern regarding mushrooming growth of sub campuses, he said “Universities are allowed to open sub-campuses but only after fulfilling HEC’s requisite NOC.”

During the meeting, the Vice Chancellors showed deep concern on the institution specific amendments being incorporated in the Acts of different universities/degree awarding institutions. They observed that such interventions could derail the operations, management and standards of higher education and research, and impede the progress currently being achieved in the higher education sector.

A committee will be constituted to review these amendments and propose a Model United Universities Act for adoption all across the country, after briefing the concerned ministries and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Funding constraints faced by public sector universities were also discussed in detail by the academics along with placement of fresh PhDs in universities.

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