The vice chancellors and rectors of public sector universities agreed on Saturday that higher education bodies at provincial level should not be established without proper consultation and comprehensive discussion, and that their functions should not contradict those of the Federal Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Over 65 heads of higher education institutions of the Government sector from all over Pakistan had gathered in Islamabad for the Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting to discuss the Post 18-Amendment scenario as far as future of the higher education sector in Pakistan is concerned. It may be mentioned here that discussions are afoot for quite a while to establish higher education controlling bodies at the provincial levels.
The participants were of the opinion that comprehensive consultations should be held, involving all stakeholders, rather than taking steps in a hurried manner. It was discussed that setting up provincial HECs without amending HEC Ordinance 2002 will be against the constitution.
A vice chancellor from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said proposed model of HEC in the province had already been rejected by the Vice Chancellors as it only duplicated the present HEC’s role. “Why change HEC? Let it stay,” said the impassioned Vice Chancellor. Another vice chancellor from Balochistan said that universities in the province fully support a strengthened HEC at federal level.
The participants also discussed formation of HEC in Sindh, which has still not become functional to ensuing legal complications. Similarly, in Punjab a Committee is deliberating on formulating a model of an HEC, but faces divergent views among the vice chancellors.
The vice chancellors said that, if absolutely necessary, the provincial HECs should be made after fulfilling all legal requirements and that these bodies should complement the Federal HEC rather than contradicting its functions and policies.
Engr. Syed Imtiaz Gilani, Chairman HEC emphasized that HEC has made a number of achievements in the last 12 years and various criteria set by the Commission have helped universities improve their standards. “It is prudent to think very carefully before implementing changes in an organization that has worked very well,” he said.
A proposed model for higher education was discussed by the vice chancellors, which says that devolution of higher education to the provinces should only be done after detailed deliberations on different legal and academic issues. The model offers two options, either provincial HECs should be established without proper consultation or go through a transformation process in the light of achievements made by HEC in the last 12 years.
The participants were of the opinion that HEC should be a federation lever, and should be involved in policy formulation, coordination like recognition, curriculum, quality assurance, research priorities, while bodies at provincial level should be involved in implementation, monitoring and evaluation, provincial level funding and facilitating in adding up the process.