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Punjab not ready to implement HEC’s timeframe to phase out 2-year BA, MA degree programmes

The Educationist Report

LAHORE: The Punjab province’s top education brass Thursday brainstormed on the HEC Pakistan’s timeframe regarding phasing-out 2-year BA and MA programmes by 2018 and 2020 respectively, and observed that the provincial education system was not ready to embrace this change within the given time-line.

Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani while addressing a press briefing at the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) after a meeting to review the HEC’s letter, made it clear, “in principle they agree with HEC stance to replace old system with the new one, but it will take time to adopt the change because of lacking of the system, faculty and infrastructure.

Flanked by PHEC Chairman Dr. Nizamuddin and Government College University Vice Chancellor Dr. Hassan Amir Shah, the minister said, they do agree that the current system needed replacement, but it was also important to look at the available resources.

While citing the case study of 26 colleges where 4-year BS programme was launched earlier, the minister said, it was a failure.  “It was due to lack of resources, including lack of faculty, infrastructure and labs,” he added.

However, the minister said that a plan would be devised and colleges would be divided into categories and the new system would be implemented in phases. He said, “We cannot implement it in one fell swoop all across the province. For this, we need time and a final decision will be taken after getting recommendations by their committee.”

Replying to a question to phase-out the MA programme as there were 4 year to the HEC deadline, Dr. Nizam said that doing that would become problematic for BA students, as they would be unable to continue their studies.

It is worthy to mention here that HEC Pakistan Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed and their committee has recommended a bridging semester and adjustment of BA graduates in the 6th semester of BS programme.

A letter was sent by the HEC on March 15 to remind universities that the BA and MA programmes were to be phased-out as per a decision taken earlier. The HEC’s letter to universities and degree awarding institutions (DAI) asked them to comply with the orders of the commission and phase out the BA programme by 2018 and the MA programme by 2020. “The different titles for bachelor level degrees [BA and BSc] are creating confusion for employers, national and international organisations and the community as a whole,” the letter stated.

The letter said, “For streamlining, HEC constituted a committee comprising experts from different universities/institutions to work on the possibility of phasing out BA/BSc programmes and to devise a mechanism to accommodate existing BA/BSc graduates into four year programmes”.

“The matter was taken up in a meeting of the commission and was approved as a policy; therefore, it needs to be communicated to all the universities/DAIs of Pakistan for implementation within all HEIs in letter and spirit. All universities/DAIs are advised to comply with the commission’s endorsement to recommendations of the committee, constituted for the purpose of phasing out BA/BSc and bridging the existing BA/BSc graduates.”

Last week Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed addressed a media briefing at HEC Regional Campus Lahore and explained why it was important to phase-out BA and MA programmes.


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