HEC not to compromise on quality of higher education: Dr Mukhtar
LAHORE—Taking challenges that beset the higher education sector head on, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) made an impassioned call to ensure quality all levels of higher education in the country.
While addressing the Vice Chancellors’ Committee meeting that began here on Monday, the Chairman reviewed year’s performance, challenges and issues to set target for the next year and urged the gathering of over 120 heads of public and private universities that quality of higher education should top their agenda while planning for further expansion and development.
Comparing current budget of around 80 billion rupees with that of 35 billion in 2010-11, he said there was a remarkable increase in funding for higher education, though still low as compared to developing countries. He appreciated the Government for a sustainable support to the sector and emphasized that ‘it is now our responsibility to prove that higher learning institutions become a real engine for country’s socio-economic growth.’
Dr Mukhtar Ahmed particularly advised the private sector institutions that undoubtedly education has become a business worldwide but that should not be done at the cost of quality. ‘It’s my humble request that do earn millions through your institutions but not compromising on the basic parameters because if you do so, you will endanger future of thousands of youngsters who have trusted you for acquiring good education,’ he added.
He also spoke at length about mushrooming of sub-campuses as well as launching of MPhil and PhD programmes without fulfilment of minimum criteria. ‘If any institution violate criteria and goes ahead just for the sake of competition or increase resources, it will definitely be held accountable. Remember there are no shortcuts if we want our institutions to develop at international standards. Proper planning for resource generation and developing human resource is the key to achieve success.’
To a question regarding post-18th amendment scenario, he said that the issue is under discussion in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) that will soon decide it, keeping in view the Supreme Court’s verdict that forbids any change in higher education regulation sans change in HEC Ordinance. He however emphasized that this debate should not deflect our attention from the core issues of quality and governance that face many of our universities.
Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that over the years HEC has not only considerably increased the budget for research but has also assured that the faculty members and researchers focus on priority areas related to our society and country’s economic challenges. He asked the university heads to take all possible measures for encouraging relevant research and allocating maximum amount for this purpose. He also stressed upon them to clear plagiarism cases pending at their end and enhance efforts for eradicating the menace.
The Chairman also discussed the security problem facing the country, particularly educational institutions, and asked the vice chancellors to thoroughly review the situation and come up with solutions that envisage not only protection of students and staff but make sure that open display of weapons should not create a fearful environment on campuses.
He also shed light on various ongoing and upcoming projects of higher education sector including establishment of technical universities, thousands of scholarships under US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor in addition to existing scholarship schemes, establishment of Centres of Excellence in Water, Energy, Food Security and Climate Change, creation of technology parks as well as many national and international partnerships for developing human resource in all fields of national importance.