ISLAMABAD: Since long, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is under fire from various quarters. So, in what appears to be a tit-for-tat response, the HEC has issued a list of its activities and achievements in the past one-year.
The HEC claims of approving 22 development projects worth Rs 48 billion for universities, benefiting 300,000 students under the Prime Minister’s National Laptop Scheme (PMNLS) and awarding thousands of students overseas with indigenous scholarships.
According to the details released here on Friday, during the year 2017, HEC awarded 395 overseas scholarships and 1068 indigenous scholarships in various disciplines. 412 PhD scholars proceeded for research abroad under the International Research Support Initiative Programme, each for a period of six months. While under a bilateral agreement for Hungaricum Scholarships, 157 students proceeded to Hungary for PhD, MS and BS studies.
Moreover, embarking upon the execution of US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor, HEC launched the Allama Muhammad Iqbal Scholarship Programme for Afghan national students under which 3000 scholarships will be awarded to Afghan students.
The HEC also launched the ‘Provision of Higher Education Opportunities for Students of Balochistan and FATA, Phase-II’ under which a total of 3900 students from Balochistan and FATA will be the extended financial support to acquire education.
In the said year, HEC and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a state-owned company of China, signed a document of understanding under which the latter will sponsor 30 Pakistani students for their Master’s degree in transportation engineering at the Southeast University China (SUC) consecutively for two academic years.
As a whole, HEC approved 22 development projects worth Rs 48 billion for universities in the said year. It also launched the PMNLS’ Phase IV & V. So far, 300,000 students have benefited under three phases of the scheme. With the commission’s efforts, a laptop assembly plant has been installed in Pakistan and students are now able to get made-in-Pakistan laptops along with Evo devices under the scheme.
The report states that the quality of engineering education in Pakistan improved due to initiatives and efforts of Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and HEC and in June 2017, Pakistan was declared as a full signatory of the Washington Accord.
In the ICT sphere, HEC launched the Online Attestation System by developing an e-portal for registration and processing of degree attestation cases, besides, it also set up a call centre to facilitate parents, students, faculty and researchers across Pakistan in case of any query regarding HEC programmes.
HEC Media Director, Ayesha Ikram said that in 2017, Pakistan’s first Internet Exchange Point (PKIX) was also inaugurated under the headship of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and support of Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
The federal commission also established the Education Testing Council (ETC) in 2017 to ensure free-of-cost, standardised entry tests for admissions in public and private institutions. ETC conducted its first entry tests for fall 2017 admissions.
Further on, the HEC states that it played a significant role in making the Huawei ICT Skill Competition 2017 a success.
As a part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), HEC launched the Pakistan Qualification Register (PQR) in order to enable the students and their parents to make informed decisions. The e-portal system helps stakeholders of HEC to view online the approved programmes of Pakistani universities aimed at providing clearly deﬁned levels of knowledge, skills and competencies to be acquired by every graduate.
“In 2017, HEC won the Global Good Governance (3G) Award of Cambridge IF Analytica, an international organisation based in Cambridge, UK,” said Ayesha Ikram.
As part of its programmes for infrastructure development and expansion of universities and sub-campuses, the sub-campuses of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women University (SBKWU), Lasbela University (LU) and the University of Poonch (PU) were made operational in Naushki, Wadh and Forward Kahuta respectively, thus providing higher education to the inhabitants of these areas at their doorstep.
Listing further achievements, the report states that the HEC stopped four universities from admitting students in any degree programme owing to academic irregularities and mismanagement and after non-compliance despite constant reminders from HEC to fulfil the deficiencies. The commission has so far closed down around 450 MS and PhD programmes of different universities as they failed to fulfil the commission’s criteria.
HEC continued its series of publishing parent and student alerts in national dailies too, besides directing universities and degree awarding institutions to ensure implementation of the commission’s decision to raise the minimum qualification for the appointment of lecturers to 18 years of education.
Seven Pakistani universities won representation in 300 best universities of Asia in the Times Higher Education’s 2017 ranking announced in March 2017. Besides, the CPEC Consortium of Business Schools was launched as a step forward towards the successful execution of CPEC.
Furthermore, 31 projects to develop new technologies relevant to country’s socio-economic needs were initiated under the Technology Development Fund to PhD scholars who have returned from abroad after completing their degree.
Under the National Research Programme for Universities (NRPU), 529 research proposals were approved. In its lieu, an amount of Rs 1303.62 million was utilised during this period. Moreover, 59 projects worth Rs 178 million were completed.
As of the statistics obtained from universities until July 2016, 51 per cent PhDs have been inducted out of 1554 universities and 18 per cent have secured jobs in other educational institutions.
The data shows that by 2017, HEC has so far awarded over 2,51,000 scholarships to Pakistani students including 8, 700 indigenous, 9,550 overseas and 9,500 need-based scholarships.
As many as 200,700 students from 114 districts have benefited from the PM’s Fee Reimbursement Scheme for less developed areas and under the PM’s Laptop Scheme, Rs 26.46 billion has been allocated for the provision of laptops to talented students in the time frame of 2013-2018.