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VC’s of 130 Varsities seek Reversal of Decision on HEC

VCs of 130 varsities seek reversal of decision on HEC: A committee representing vice-chancellors of more than 130 universities in the country threw its weight on Thursday behind a campaign against the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to provinces, while the head of a key parliamentary commission called the move “a storm in the tea cup”.

The committee at a meeting sought intervention by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to keep the HEC as a federal entity. “We, the vice-chancellors of both public and private sector degree-awarding institutions, have serious concerns over the government decision to devolve the HEC to provinces for no genuine reasons,” committee chairman Imtiaz Gillani told a news conference.

“Hence, we request the president and the prime minister of Pakistan to keep this national institution of pivotal importance intact,” said Mr Gillani, vice- chancellor of the University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar. He said the committee had decided to make an appeal before the chief executive and head of the state, urging them to use their constitutional powers against the move to split the commission among provinces.

The Parliamentary Commission on the implementation of 18th Amendment, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani of the PPP, announced the devolution of the HEC to provinces last month after which a nationwide campaign against the move was launched by the campus community.

The vice-chancellors` committee, representing heads of 71 public and 62 private sector universities, met here with one-point agenda “concerns about the future of higher education in Pakistan” and unanimously decided to seek intervention of the president and the prime minister. More than 40 vice-chancellors attended the meeting.

Sources close to the meeting told Dawn that a suggestion of en masse resignations was made by a few participants, but the proposal failed to get enough support. Asked if the committee had any plans to come on roads as done by doctors to press for their demands, Mr Gillani said the committee at best would strive to sort out the issue with the quarters concerned in a cordial atmosphere, but could not stop students who had already started protesting to save the HEC.

Mr Gillani was of the view said that probably top bosses of the government had not been adequately briefed about the severity of the issue and expressed the hope that after studying the committee’s two-page letter, they would be able to better understand and resolve the issue.

Talking to , senior HEC officials said the movement in favor of HEC was picking up momentum and expressed the hope that the government would seriously review its decision. When asked for his comments on the VC committee’s decision, Senator Raza Rabbani said: “This is a storm in the tea cup. Otherwise, everything has been made clear in the 18th Amendment”.

He said that before the enactment of the 18th Amendment, the HEC was not even mentioned in any of the three legislative lists — federal, concurrent and provincial — and it was the parliamentary committee (on constitutional reforms) that included it in the federal legislative list, part-II, of the revised constitution that only explained its role as a body to take care of standardization of higher education in the country.

He said the HEC chairman and some vice-chancellors had been assured that their concerns would be addressed when HEC`s Ordinance was revisited.

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