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VCs’ galaxy takes up key issues at HEC Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting

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135 vice chancellors discuss HEIs governance, performance, TTS and role in social development 

By Shabbir Sarwar

Group photographs of vice chancellors and rectors of public and private universities with Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC. Photo Credit: Mehsheed Muhammad
Group photographs of vice chancellors and rectors of public and private universities with Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC. Photo Credit: Mehsheed Muhammad

LAHORE: The issue of PHECs establishment is in the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and it should be resolved at the earliest, Punjab has submitted its response in the form of a letter and the response of Sindh is awaited. There will be no compromise on the issue of quality of higher education in the country, said HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed while talking to media at the conclusion of three-day HEC Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting at PC Hotel during May 23-25, 2016.
To a query regarding the findings of quality assurance committees’ visits across country, Dr. Mukhtar said around four universities/campuses’ position was very miserable and (these should be shut down) however, six to seven others also have serious problems but they can improve their facilities (they may .get a chance).
About flawed procedure of selection of VCs in private universities, he said, “I know there are so

Group photographs of vice chancellors and rectors of public and private universities with Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC. Photo Credit: Mehsheed Muhammad
Group photographs of vice chancellors and rectors of public and private universities with Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC. Photo Credit: Mehsheed Muhammad

me buchungra VCs and rectors (little boys working as VCs) in universities being sons of the owners. However, I have told them clearly it would not work. The selection of VCs would be on merit and even professors, associate professors and assistant professors’ selection would be as per set standards.” He also agreed that many people were using the title of professor without meeting the criteria of professorship. “We have even written letter to the Army Chief, who is chancellor of five institutions, that they should abide by the criteria for selection of VCs and he appreciated my letter.”
To another query, he said we would organize conferences in all provinces, there was not even 0.001 percent intention to give any message to PHEC by organizing meeting in Lahore. “Actually we had planned the meeting in Skardu but there was not so big hall to organize such a mega event. Later we shifted to Lahore because when we contacted ITU’s young VC Umar Saif, he was ready to collaborate and host the event.” When asked why you didn’t invited PHEC chairperson Dr. Nizam, he said, we were ready to see Dr. Nizam with the Chief Minister in the conference.
Earlier, in the concluding session, HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, appreciated all the Vice Chancellors for their active participation and discussion on various challenges being faced by higher education sector. He stressed that implementation of quality criteria and other higher education policies in letter and spirit was inevitable to make the university education at a par with international standards.
The meeting ended with a consensus that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and universities across the country will make more concerted efforts to assure quality in faculty appointment, student admissions, opening of new institutions and sub-campuses, curriculum development, offering new degree courses, granting affiliations, teaching and research or any other matter related to higher education.

One of the vice chancellors, pointed out that high level of interference of politicians in the universities and their undue pressure was unacceptable and concrete measures should be taken in this regards. He said politicans interfare in the university syndicates have become a routine.

Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, former Adviser to Prime Minister and currently President of SZABIST said that for all matters related to higher education, leadership has to come from HEC and there should not be different standards for different universities. She urged university heads and HEC to adopt a cohesive approach for policymaking and its implementation.
A detailed session was held on Tenure Track System (TTS) for faculty appointment wherein Dr. G Raza Bhatti, Member (Operations and Planning) HEC described in detail the purpose of introducing the system and the discrepancies arising due to deviation from set criteria for appointment under TTS.

PU Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran chaired a session on TTS related issues. The issues included non-approval of statutes from respective governing bodies, non-submission of statutes and relevant record to HEC, appointments without advertisement, TRP committee without two foreign experts, lack of Departmental Tenure Review Committees, non-observance of Annual, Mid-Term and Final Reviews (hard Review), assumption of administrative posts by TTS faculty, not awarding increments at the time of initial appointments, and deviation from contract period. The gathering agreed that these shortcomings will be addressed on priority and wherever a confusion arises, matter will be referred to HEC.
Dr. Sohail Naqvi, Vice Chancellor LUMS, moderated a panel discussion on Institutional Performance and Programme Review. The session involved a comprehensive debate on Quality Assurance criteria and their implementation.
HEC DG Accreditation and Attestation Tahir Abbas Zaidi gave a briefing on accreditation procedure for opening new universities, sub-campuses as well as criteria for affiliating colleges. He showed concern over violation of HEC criteria for opening DAI/ sub campuses, grant of affiliations exceeding the jurisdictional limits defined in respective Acts/Charters, offering programmes in affiliated colleges which are not available on the Principal Seat, vetting of Charters as per Cabinet Criteria, increased enrollment of students without required facilities, acute shortage of faculty, foreign collaborations with non-chartered institutions.

A session on “Role of Media and Universities in Promoting Societal Development, Discourse and Peace in Society” was attended by Mujeeb-ur-Rahman Shami, Amjad Islam Amjad, Sajjad Mir, Yasir Peerzada, Habib Akram and Ajmal Jami. The participants agreed that both media and universities play a key role in shaping any society, particularly character building of citizens especially youth. It was emphasized that interaction among universities and media should be enhanced to promote good research being carried out by university researchers.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan highlighted the importance of promoting cricket in universities and how it could benefit the development of the game in Pakistan.
A woman representative highlighted the issue of huge difference in medical fees from 18,000 to 1,84,000 of medical. Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) President Dr. Shabbir Ahmed Lehri underlined how the medical education has suffered due to lack of proper policies as well as implementation of the existing ones. He requested the vice chancellors of medical universities to come up with suggestions and enhance coordination with PMDC for improving the overall quality of medical education in the country.
HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed said the commission will soon hold a meeting of PMDC, medical universities and colleges for identifying different issues pertaining to medical education and setting a roadmap for the future.
The vice chancellors also gave various suggestions for improving security of higher education institutions keeping in view that educational institutions are a very soft target for anti-state elements. They agreed to work in close coordination with HEC for devising a security strategy for their respective campuses.

Replying to a query about PHECs, Dr. Mukhtar said there were 3,400 colleges and no one was taking the responsibility to see them. We only focus on quality assurance, curriculum and research direction. Apart from it, we don’t interfere in universities. We have fought the case to maintain the autonomy of universities, which is very important. Now our work has increased four-times. Now the focus has been shifted from facilitation to control. This is very strange.

UMT Rector Hasan Sohaib Murad gave three proposals: (1) “Our academic calendar should be strictly with the international academic calendar to facilitate students because admission are delayed due to delay in the result of FA/FSc causing serious loss of academic time, (2) Allowance for PhD students be made at least 50,000 so that they can focus full-time on their PhD and (3) There should be a board to deal with the matter of university rankings,” he said.
Qarshi University Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Zahir Javed Paracha said, keeping in view the CPEC, we need at least 2 million technical experts in next a few years. HEC should conduct a study on it, there should be pathways in national quality faction we should produce more engineers and required technical human power now.”
Govt College Women University Faisalabad VC Dr. Naureen Aziz Qureshi stressed to increase university to university collaboration.

Text of Resolution adopted by HEC Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting 

Following three days deliberations in the Vice Chancellors’ Committee meeting during May 23-25, 2016 at Lahore, the Vice Chancellors’ Committee representing 179 Vice Chancellors/Rectors/Heads of Degree Awarding Institutions unanimously adopted the Resolution hereunder:
i. Observance of Quality and Standards is foremost priority and there would be no compromise on these parameters. The Universities and DAIs pledge to follow them in letter and spirit and work with the Higher Education Commission where improvements in standards and policies, and compliance thereof is required.
ii. The Vice Chancellors’ Committee comprising both Public and Private Institutions strongly recommends that such interaction should be held more frequently and at different places to strengthen equal participation and understanding across HEIs.
iii. Merit, transparency, uniform policies and good governance shall be guiding principles and issues such as TTS, opening of sub-campuses, affiliations, program accreditations, etc. shall be managed in accordance with the policies prescribed by the HEC, any issue arising thereof shall be resolved through consultative process with concerned parties but on the principles of merit and fairness.
iv. The Committee unanimously emphasized that fragmentation of the Higher education shall not be in interest of the development of Higher Education Sector and the country at large. A strong and coherent approach is required to be instituted to bridge all the stakeholders including federal, provincial and private entities. The Committee also stressed that University autonomy needs to be respected at all costs and external interference in affairs of Universities in all its manifestations should be checked.
v. The Vice Chancellors’ Committee lauded the Government of Pakistan in supporting Higher Education Sector in the country and providing generous financial support to the HE Sector. The Committee especially appreciated the efforts and backing of Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, the Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training and the Chairman HEC.
vi. The Committee rejoiced and extended greetings to Government of Pakistan, all the Provincial Governments and the HEIs for achieving the unique award of 3G – Global Good Governance – Excellence in Higher Education Award 2016 conferment upon the Higher Education Commission Pakistan in Global Donors Forum being held in Istanbul Turkey on May 25-26, 2016.
vii. The Committee acknowledged the graciousness of the Governor Punjab for hosting the Vice Chancellors’ Committee at a dinner and showing resolve to support HE in all possible ways especially in marginalized areas such as Balochistan and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly, the Committee appreciated the support of the Government of Punjab in organizing a successful Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting. Similarly the Vice Chancellors’ Committee appreciated the time devoted by the Provincial Minister for Education, Secretary Higher Education Punjab, and all the Vice Chancellors of Punjab for being a very good host particularly the Vice Chancellor of the University of Punjab.
viii. The Committee applauded the efforts of HEC for providing a platform to Vice Chancellors from both public and private sectors to share their views and concerns for improving HE in the country. It creates synergy and leads to fostering a pool of knowledge for future developments in the HE Sector.
ix. The Committee pledged and resolved to continue working together with all stakeholders to resolve practical issues, to maintain quality and standards at all costs, to ensure good governance and to strengthen societal development and national harmony.

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