HEC chairman says new letter is just a reminder to implement the decision taken by all stakeholders
The Educationist Report
LAHORE: Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, on Saturday, reacting to the media reports over the end to the 2-year bachelors’ and masters’ degree programmes, clarified that decision was not new rather it was taken in 2004-05, with the consent of all stakeholders, and the new letter was just a reminder in this regards.
Talking to media personnel in HEC Regional Office Lahore, Dr. Mukhtar said that the decision was taken to make Pakistani degree at a par with the international standards in the best interest of higher education. He said the two-year bachelors and masters degrees did not meet the international standard. He said in the year 2002 HEC was established with the goal to bring Pakistan’s higher education sector at par with the world. Pakistani students faced problems in the world because of the 2-year BA and MA degree programmes, as these were not recognized internationally.
Dr. Mukhtar said that in 2004-2005, a decision was taken, with the consent of all stakeholders, that the 2-year BA and MA programmes would be discontinued and replaced with the 4-year BS and 2-year MS programmes equivalent to 16 and 18 years of education respectively. In 2007, he said, the associate degree was introduced to facilitate the transition. He said, “Later in 2014, a committee was constituted, which suggested to give a deadline for the discontinuation of the programme and finally in 2015 a commission approved the move.” All stakeholders participated in the committee meeting, he added.
Dr. Mukhtar said that the current notification/letter was only a reminder as the deadline neared. He said that the universities had already discontinued the BA and MA degrees and now only affiliated colleges and private examinations get enrolled in the system.
Citing the example of the Allama Iqbal Open University, he said that a similar system could be adopted by universities to replace the current system. For this the HEC, through a project, provided universities with resources to start a distant learning programme. He said that because of the current 2-year BA and MA programmes, a large number of unskilled manpower was entering the workforce.
To a question, he said that private examination system would remain intact but would be structured. Further explaining this, he said that a system similar to the distant learning model would be adopted, where students would get learning material for a semester and faculty help would also be available. He said the students would be graded for each semester. He said this would bring those (private) students into the mainstream.
To another question about devolution of power to provinces, he said that the decision was taken with the consultation and approval of all the federating units of the country. He said that representatives from every unit were present when the decision was taken. He said the Bridging Semester, before inducting two year degree programme students in the 5th semester of the 4 year degree programme will be introduced to make their deficiency. To a question regrading the complexity to become class-mates in the 5th semester – into a new system, Dr. Mukhtar said, yes, there might be some transplanting shock but this there was no better way out other than this as suggested by the stakeholders. “Therefore special curriculum has been developed for all degree programmes for the Bridging Semester in consultation with subject specialists.
Many people have three, four masters degrees but they couldn’t get job, because they remained unable to acquire skills to come upto the market’s requirements. the system needed to be restructured. Those who get registered for a private exam just two three weeks before exam couldnt be equal to those who study on regular basis in the universities and colleges