Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Monday hinted at increasing the development budget of Higher Education Commission (HEC) to Rs 50 billion under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for fiscal year 2018-19. Addressing National consultative conference on HEC Vision 2025 here, the minister said that the government had made a record increased in the development budget for the Commission to promote research based higher educational culture in the country.
“The government’s commitment to promote higher education is reflected by the fact that it has enhanced the development budget for HEC under Federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) from Rs 12 billion in 2012-13 to Rs 35.5 billion for the year 2017-18″, Ahsan remarked.
He said each rupee of the budget was trust to the HEC authorities who were bound to utilize the funds in the right direction.
He maintained that various new programmes were planned to be launched including Inter-University Olympics, Global Leadership Internship, training of ERP systems to 100,000 students, certificate and diploma programmes for 10000 youth who have done Masters in subjects which have no relevance in the job market, and establishment of Technology Innovation Fund.
Minister for Education, Gilgit Baltistan Muhammad Ibrahim Sanai, Chairman HEC, Prof. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Secretary ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, Shoaib Mir were also present on the occasion.
Ahsan Iqbal revealed how quality higher education could play a vital role in turning the country into a knowledge-based economy. He observed that the world had entered into the fourth industrial revolution wherein big data cloud computing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, bio-technology, automation and robotics have evolved great significance.
He maintained that competence in all these areas required excellence in higher education. Terming the Vice Chancellors of Universities corps commanders of higher education sector, he urged them to concentrate on turning the universities into engines of innovation. The Minister revealed that the outcome of HEC Vision 2025 hinges upon seven key guidelines including academic excellence, applied research in universities, academia-industry linkages, transforming universities to serve the community for socio-economic development, making universities technology-enabled, institutional excellence, and university products i.e., skilled human resource.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed shared the role of HEC in blending the human resource development with the country’s socio-economic growth, promoting ICT-embedded education programmes, inspiring universities to share experience with other educational institutions, enhancing quality of higher education and research, increasing scholarships and global connectivity, facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship, and encouraging universities for community development. He said the strategic priorities of the HEC Vision 2025 include sustainability and consolidation of HEC; increasing equitable access; excellence in leadership; governance and management; research, innovation and commercialization; increased faculty with highest academic qualification; enhanced quality with curricular content for all levels of qualification offered; promoting ICT for education; and financial management and enhanced investment.
The Chairman said that before the inception of HEC, students enrolment in universities was only 0.276 million, while the number has now been taken to 1.3 million. “It is a happy development that gender-wise enrolment has been balanced, as now the ratio of male and female student enrolment is respectively 52 per cent and 48 per cent,” he revealed.