Making a somewhat tricky move, Implementation Commission has decided to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces and has started consulting with provincial governments without taking HEC on board. According to well-placed sources, Implementation Commission has approved the devolution of HEC despite the fact that it exists in the Federal Legislative List (FLL) while under the 18th amendment, only a concurrent list is supposed to be devolved. It has been learned reliably that the Implementation Commission in its last meeting reviewed the HEC law for almost five hours after which they had decided to devolve it without taking HEC into confidence.
“The plan has been prepared very carefully. The federal government is trying to save its money by handing over HEC to provinces. In this way they would save money in the upcoming budget and would ask provinces to run HEC from the money they would get from NFC award,” a source told ‘The News’.
On the other hand, the source said, provinces are having a misconception that they would get extra money as HEC budget. “The federal government has committed World Bank that it would allocate sufficient amount in higher education sector to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Once HEC would be devolved, the commitment would automatically come to an end,” he added.
Meanwhile, provinces have been visited by the members of Implementation Commission to check their preparedness to take the responsibility. According to a member of the Implementation Commission, they have received positive response from the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so far.
HEC Implementation Commission All Set To Devolve
According to the sources, HEC has written a letter to Implementation Commission a month ago in which it was asked to brief them about its status and also to provide them an opportunity to give presentation on their role in the progress of higher education sector in the country. “There was no reply from Implementation Commission. It is now again that HEC has written a letter to the Implementation Commission to provide them an opportunity to present their achievements. Saturday is the date that has been decided for the meeting,” said the source.
The source also revealed that they were not sure if HEC would get chance to give presentation. “We are simply clueless. We have prepared our presentation, but not sure if we would be allowed to present it, as Implementation Commission has already decided the matter,” he said.
The education experts believe that the subject of higher education has close, deep and multidimensional links to national policy and planning, economic growth, scientific and technical research, defence production, industrial growth and national innovation system.
“Higher education is not a subject that is confined to national boundaries since it is imperative to have international recognition of degrees for which adherence to international quality assurance benchmark is a necessity,” said a source.
Talking to ‘The News’ former HEC chairperson and Education Task Force Chairperson Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali said that the 18th amendment has added key provisions to the Federal Legislative List (FLL), which include all regulatory authorities established under a Federal Law, National planning and national economic coordination including planning and coordination of scientific and technological research, standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions, inter-provincial matters and co-ordination. “The federal role of HEC is inevitable for the policy, planning and coordination and it exists in FLL,” she said.
She said that the role of provinces was already exists in higher education sector as Governor of any province is the chancellor of universities of that particular province and is an authority to hire Vice Chancellors of the universities. “What would be criteria of evaluating PhD degrees when every province would be having different standards to evaluate it,” she said.
Terming it a disaster, HEC former chairperson Dr. Atta-ur Rehaman said that the decision would reverse back the tremendous growth that HEC has made over the last decade.
“Look at the progress HEC has made. There has been 600 percent increase in our publications in over the last decade. We have produced a number of Phd scholars in 10 years that have not been produced in last 60 years,” he added.
He informed that he would be holding a press conference over this grave issue on Friday and would tell people that the devolution would have an adverse impact over the higher education sector.
It is pertinent to mention here that the vice chancellors of public and private sector universities visiting UK under ‘leadership development training’ took cognizance of the possible devolution of the HEC to the provinces. They have issued a resolution in which they stated that the HEC must continue in its current form, devolving HEC to the provinces and experiencing with the proposed model will cause devastation in higher education sector, after devaluation higher education sector would have the same fate as school and colleges under the provinces have suffered by the similar cavalier policies before us.
The resolution has been passed by 11 VCs that included the names of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) VC Dr. Nazir A Sangi, Behria University VC Vice Admiral (r) Mohammad Haroon, KPK University of Engineering and Technology VC Engineer Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gillani, University of Balochistan VC Professor Dr. Abdul Nabi, Gomal University VC Professor Dr. Mansoor Akbar Kundi, Hazara University VC Professor Dr. Sakhawat Shah, Kohat University of Science and Technology VC Professor Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, KPK Agriculture University VC Professor Dr. Khan Bahadar Marwat, Government College University Faisalabad Dr. Zakir Hussain, Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology VC Dr. Salim-ur-Rehman, Isra University VC Dr. Ghulam Qadir Qazi and UET Taxila VC Prof Dr Muhammad Abbas Chaudhary.
HEC Executive Director Dr. Sohail Naqvi when contacted by ‘The News’ said that they haven’t received anything officially till now. “We have just heard that the future of HEC has been decided. Our meeting in this regard with Implementation Commission is scheduled on Saturday,” he said.
He said that after 18th amendment, HEC has become a subject that comes under Federal Legislative List (FLL). “It’s not simple as in case of schools and colleges. The 80 per cent work on science and technology is conducted in universities. The federal role of HEC is inevitable for inter-provincial coordination of the research work being conducted in the universities,” he said.