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In defence of HEC ranking

A lot has been said against the ranking mechanism of the Higher Education Commission (HEC); however what is missing is a constructive criticism to make the federal institution’s ranking more representative of the higher education landscape of the country.
It is true that HEC needs to devise better assessment technique for assessing the higher education institutions (HEIs). The criteria only evaluate facilities provided by these institutions and does not take into account the quality of education and the employability of their students. Of course, a better mechanism is needed and the criticism that an impartial body should rank HEIs also carries weight.
Parents, teachers and HEIs themselves need a mechanism/ranking to gauge the quality of institutions of higher learning and the HEC has been playing its part in this regard. It is also true that no other organization or body has come forward to take this responsibility from the HEC and to be honest, there is no other organization in Pakistan that can carry out this task with due diligence.
An exercise on this scale was not previously available to Pakistanis and students from other countries who sought admissions in Pakistan. The current criteria, with its flaws, is the best available and if compared to any international ranking system it does deliver in providing relevant education data. For example, the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking showed a similar trend for Pakistani HEIs with the Quaid-e-Azam University topping their list. Also the process adopted by the HEC is also quite good as it confirms the data from universities after collecting it themselves. Another aspect of the ranking is that it has around 65 matrices for evaluating HEIs and separate categories for specialized universities. Giving people options to look, for example, for the best engineering school in the country.
A grading system that thoroughly checks universities is very important, especially for a country like Pakistan where there are some universities in 2-bedroom homes. One may claim that such practice is also in other countries but we need to correct and put in order our house. If it weren’t for HEC, students, parents and teachers would have no way to check the performance of HEIs. There is also no denying that the criteria could be made more effective by including other aspects of higher learning. As for now there is no better option to check the quality of universities.
The Information Technology University, Lahore has made an attempt, but it seems premature, lacking any legal authority and without adopting proper mechanism acceptable to majority. Thats the reason no one has taken it seriously, those who have, they are criticizing it. However, Mr Umer Saif has tried to clarify at a press conference.
A humble advice to HEC would be to first revamp the criteria of evaluation and include new matrices in the mix hence enhancing the veracity of the ranking. Another thing the HEC should do is provide detailed interactive breakdown of different measures adopted so that anyone can assess the quality of the institution as per their needs.

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