Academics oppose HEC’s devolution | Pakistan Today

Academics oppose HEC’s devolution

LAHORE – Students, faculty members and educationists condemned the proposed devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and said that a mafia at public sector universities damaged the quality of HEC and forced the government to think about its devolution.
Students said that public sector universities had become a hub of academic corruption and HEC did not bother to stop professors who were looting the government’s money. Students also said that government should not devolve HEC and instead eradicate corruption from HEC.
HEC WAS SILENT ON CORRUPTION: Some professors at the universities are illegally enjoying luxuries under the garb of Tenure Track System, and varsity teachers are getting around Rs 0.4 million monthly besides earning through delivering lectures at private universities, while HEC remained silent. According to a senior professor, these professors had more protocol and wealth than ministers. He questioned the source of their wealth.
A Punjab University (PU) professor, seeking anonymity, said that HEC supported these universities’ vice chancellors in their plunder. He said many corruption cases had been identified, such as the case of PU ICS Director Dr Ahsan Akhter Naz who was proposed for termination and other cases of sexual harassments at the varsity, but the HEC did not inquire nor did the PU VC take any action. He said that under such circumstances, one could only expect HEC’s devolution.
HEC’S AUTONOMY IS A PLUS: HEC was set up in 2002 after shutting down the University Grants Commission (UGC). Although the research standards have improved with HEC’s support, academic corruption has also increased. Government of Pakistan is planning HEC’s devolution, following which, the core function of degree recognition, equivalence and attestation will be shifted to a new commission, which will be constituted under the Cabinet Division. The HEC is an autonomous body that reports directly to the prime minister, who appoints two thirds of its members for a four-year term.
These members cannot be removed except on corruption charges and this structure is what gives the HEC its autonomy. This allowed the HEC to defy pressure and not verify degrees of parliamentarians that did not meet the standards. Without autonomy, a new commission will then presumably clear the backlog of unverified degrees of parliamentarians.
WHAT ABOUT STUDENT GRANTS? Samina, a Phd scholar at LCWU, said that students who were studying at various HEC programs at different countries of the world were fretting over HEC’s devolution as HEC was responsible to pay their dues. He said that these students were already suffering when last year the government stopped HEC grants. She said the government should replace corrupt officials instead of devolving HEC.
‘POLITICIANS WANT TO CONTROL HEC’S MONEY’: Professor Munaweer Sabir from PU’s Geography Department said that HEC promoted Phd culture and initiated various international exchange programs. He said that the corrupt politicians wanted to control HEC’s Rs 40 billion budget.
According to an HEC official, HEC attested more than 200,000 educational documents which then were recognised across the world. By creating a new commission, degrees issued by Pakistani institutions will not be recognised, he said.
STUDENTS PROTEST: Meanwhile, dozens of students enrolled in PhD and MPhil programs protested against the potential devolution of HEC, at Nasir Bagh on Wednesday, claiming that it would halt the scholarship programmes started by HEC and the future of thousands of students could be at stake.

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