VCs advised to boost higher education values at par with int’l standard

Salim Ahmed

Lahore—The three-day Vice-Chancellors’ Committee Meeting that ended here Wednesday reached a consensus that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and universities across the country will make more concerted efforts to assure quality whether it is faculty appointment, student admissions, opening of new institutions and sub-campuses, curriculum development, offering new degree courses, granting affiliations, teaching and research or any other matter related to higher education.
Concluding the session, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC appreciated all the vice-chancellors for their active participation and discussing in detail various challenges being faced by higher education sector and deliberating possible solutions. He stressed the fact that implementation of quality criteria and other higher education policies in letter and spirit was inevitable for development of university education that is compatible with international standards.
Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, former Adviser to Prime Minister and currently President of SZABIST said that for all matters related to higher education, leadership has to come from HEC and there should not be different standards for different universities. She urged university heads and HEC to adopt a cohesive approach for policy making and its implementation. A detailed session was held on Tenure Track System (TTS) for faculty appointment wherein Dr. G Raza Bhatti, Member (Operations and Planning) HEC described in detail the purpose of introducing the system and the discrepancies arising due to deviation from set criteria for appointment under TTS.
Issues related to TTS discussed on the occasion included non-approval of statutes from respective governing bodies, non-submission of statutes and relevant record to HEC, appointments without advertisement, TRP committee without two foreign experts, lack of Departmental Tenure Review Committees, nonobservance of Annual, Mid-Term and Final Reviews (hard Review), assumption of administrative posts by TTS faculty, not awarding increments at the time of initial appointments, and deviation from contract period.
The gathering agreed that these shortcomings will be addressed on priority and wherever a confusion arises, matter will be referred to HEC. Mr. Tahir Abbas Zaidi, Director General, Accreditation and Attestation, HEC gave a comprehensive briefing on accreditation procedure of opening of new universities, sub-campuses as well as criteria for affiliating colleges.
He showed concern over violation of HEC criteria for opening DAI/ sub campuses, grant of affiliations exceeding the jurisdictional limits defined in respective Acts/Charters, offering programmes in affiliated colleges which are not available on the Principal Seat, vetting of Charters as per Cabinet Criteria, increased enrolment of students without required facilities, acute shortage of faculty, foreign collaborations with non-chartered institutions.
He also emphasized the importance of accreditation of degree programmes from relevant professional councils, including Pakistan Nursing Council, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council, Pakistan Pharmacy Council, Pakistan Engineering Council, Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners, National Computing Education Accreditation Council, National Technology Council, Pakistan Bar Council, National Agriculture Accreditation Council, Accreditation Council for Teacher’s Education, Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan, and National Business Education Accreditation Council. Another session focused on Role of Media and Universities in Promoting Societal Development, Discourse and Peace in Society.
Among others Mr. Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Mr. Amjad Islam Amjad, Mr. Sajjad Mir, Mr. Yasir Peerzada, Mr. Habib Akram and Mr. Ajmal Jami attended the session. The participants agreed that both media and universities play a key role in shaping any society, particularly character building of citizens especially youth. It was emphasized that interaction among universities and media should be enhanced to promote good research being carried out by university researchers.
Mr. Shaharyar Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Dr. Shabbir Ahmed Lehri, President, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) also gave brief talks during the meeting. Mr. Shaharyar highlighted the importance of promoting cricket in universities and how it could benefit the development of the game in Pakistan.
He said PCB is ready to work with HEC and universities for further development of inter-university cricket and offered to form a committee for this purpose. Dr. Lehri underlined how the medical education has suffered due to lack of proper policies as well as implementation of the existing ones. He requested the vice chancellors of medical universities to come up with suggestions and enhance coordination with PMDC for improving the overall quality of medical education in the country.
On the occasion, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC said that the Commission will soon hold a meeting of PMDC and medical universities and colleges for identifying different issues pertaining to medical education and setting a roadmap for the future.
The Vice Chancellors were also briefed about HEC Safe Campus Solution for universities which is aimed to address the challenges being faced by universities. The project included blanket Wifi coverage for 30 universities each year along with security cameras for surveillance of campuses.
The University heads also gave various suggestions for improving security of higher education institutions keeping in view that educational institutions are a very soft target for anti-state elements. They agreed to work in close coordination with HEC for devising a security strategy for their respective campuses.

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