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HEC reviews 171 Universities for quality and governance

HEC Reviews 171 Universities for quality and governance

ISLAMABAD, SEPT 21 (DNA) – “HEC has rigorously been improving the higher education sector, despite numerous challenges, with the Government support,” stated Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan while giving an overview of progress made in higher education sector during the last few years.

Addressing a press conference at the Commission Secretariat on Wednesday, the Chairman said that HEC, with its prime focus on quality assurance and access to higher education, is ensuring to bring the sector at par with international standards and requirements.

He announced that HEC will launch Higher Education’s Vision 2025 in next month to set new targets in view of future academic requirements and to align the educational goals with Government’s futuristic policies.

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed said HEC is reviewing the market needs, acceptance level and relevance of various academic programmes and will launch new programmes or shelve some existing ones to cope with national requirements.

“The Government has remarkably increased the budget of higher education sector during the last three years and HEC is dedicatedly developing higher education. However, we still have a long way to go,” he said.

Referring to the recent HEC visits to various public and private sector universities to assess quality of their programmes, he said that a total of 293 PhD programmes and 57 MPhil programmes of 171 universities have been reviewed.

He revealed that 31 PhD and 26 MPhil programmes of different universities have been closed due to lack of fulfillment of minimum quality standards.

The Chairman said that HEC has stopped further intake in 56 PhD and 10 MPhil programmes in various institutions for the same reason.

“During the review process, HEC teams primarily assessed whether or not the universities are following the Act on which they are operating, are their statuary bodies in place, if they are abiding by structural guidelines, and if they are following a proper criteria for affiliations.

HEC has adopted world’s best practices including soft reviews and hard reviews of university programmes after obtaining NoCs.”

He said that HEC has been emphasizing involvement of professional accreditation bodies in launch and functionality of academic programmes. “We have agreed with all the accreditation councils not to issue conditional NoCs. HEC does not compromise on fulfillment of faculty requirements, curricula needs and overall quality.”

He continued to say that on three out of about 12 institutions newly established under the public-private partnership have been awarded NoC. He further said that HEC will conduct review visits of university campuses in the second phase and, subsequently, of over 3000 colleges affiliated with various universities in the third phase.

Sharing details of plagiarism cases, the Chairman said that HEC has received 198 complaints since 2006, in which 160 cases have been finalized. He said that 90 complaints have proved to be false while 38 faculty members have been blacklisted. He added that 38 cases are under process and six cases are sub judice.

“HEC has extended Turnitin to every university. HEC will present a proposal to the Commission, HEC’s governing body, that if a scholar commits plagiarism, his or her supervisor should also be blacklisted,” he stated.

Regarding opening of university campuses at district level, Dr. Mukhtar said that new campuses of various universities have been launched in 29 districts, including 11 in Balochistan, five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, six in Sindh and three in Gilgit-Baltistan, in the first phase while Higher Education Department, Punjab will soon provide the list. He said about 90 districts of the country are devoid of any university campus, however HEC will ensure access to higher education.

To a question, he said that the number of HEC scholars who avoid coming back to Pakistan after acquiring higher education has considerably dwindled. Such HEC scholars are hardly seven to eight percent, he asserted.

He said that the HEC research grant has increased from around only 46 million rupees in 2002 to three billion rupees in 2016-17 while additional three billion rupees have been allocated by the Planning Commission for research, innovation and technology transfer.

The Chairman also informed the gathering that HEC is working on establishment of a Centre of Advanced Studies in Climate Change and it is going to hold a competition of universities to acquire this project.=DNA




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