Islamabad, 22 October, 2021:- Meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Irfan Siddiqui here at Parliament House today.
At the outset of the meeting Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi informed the committee Chairman that report of the sub-committee formed to probe the murder and male rape case at International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has been finalized after thorough and detailed deliberations. Chairman Committee commended the convener and other two members of the sub-committee for their efforts on the matter.
Higher Education Commission presented a report on the implementation status of Senate Standing Committee meeting's recommendation on 7th, September, 2021.
Committee had previously recommended that a mechanism be devised for the registration of the students going abroad for study on a self-finance basis. Officials informed the committee members that there is no mechanism in place for the registration of the students going abroad for study on a self-finance basis. Students from different regions of Pakistan individually apply for admissions in foreign Universities and get Visa etc at their own. HEC officials further said that an APP will be launched soon in order to give information to parents and students about validly accredited programs and institutions.
Chairman Committee Senator Irfan siddiqui questioned as to how many FIRs have been registered and whether any cases have been sent to law enforcement agencies for prosecution of those involved in malpractice.
Answering to which Executive Director HEC informed the committee that HEC takes prompt action against the illegal institutions and campuses quoting example of Alkhair University. Chairman Committee lamented the role of HEC on the issue and directed that detail of the actions taken by HEC against such institutions and individuals be presented in the next meeting of the committee.
Committee in its previous meeting had directed Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training to provide comprehensive details of the foreign students studying here in Pakistan. Ministry officials apprised the committee that as per Information shared by the Universities, the total number of foreign students is 5, 248 belonging to 70 different countries. They are studying in different Universities through various programs like development projects, Bilateral agreements, or individually. Chairman Committee commented that a comprehensive list be provided clearly indicating the number of foreign students in each university along with their subjects and nationality.
Committee had also recommended that Modus Operandi for International Students should be eased for taking admission In Pakistani Universities
Officials replied that HEC is preparing a digital handbook of the Pakistani Universities and their programs offered by each University along with the admission criteria to attract foreign students to create diversity in student lifecycle for exchange, cultural, academic and experience for opening up new knowledge avenues.
To Committee’s recommendations regarding creation of separate track and service structure for technologists officials informed that Engineers, Engineering Technologists and other Technologists are separate and distinct professionals who work in tandem with their counterparts, but need separate albeit parallel career paths, that are complementary rather than confrontational. Notwithstanding certain amounts of overlaps in their professional roles, basically engineers use science, mathematics, and other analytical tools to innovate, design and create new products and processes, whereas technologists install, test, operate and maintain finished products and processes. USA's ABET (Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) defines Engineering Technology as "Part of the technological field that requires the application of scientific and engineering knowledge and methods combined with technical skills in support of engineering activities." Engineering students spend 70% of their time in face-to-face classroom studies and 30% in the laboratories: Technologists spend 70% of their time in the laboratory, field work or supervised industry placement, and 30% in face-to-face classroom studies. The B. Tech (Hons) degree was introduced by the Federal Government in 1973 and declared it at par with BE/BSc Engineering Degree. Due to equivalence the technologists were entitled to apply for engineering jobs and therefore no mapping of separate posts for technologists or creation of separate cadre for them was felt necessary. The equivalency issue was revised by University Grant Commission (UGC) in 1998 and later Higher Education Commission (HEC) declared "The degree of B. Tech (Hons) is not equivalent to BE/BSc Engineering. Both the degrees of BE/BSc Engineering and B. Tech (Hons) be considered as two distinct disciplines of knowledge in the field of Engineering and Technology and should run parallel to each other. However, B. Tech (Hons) may be treated at par and compatible with BE/BSc Engineering degree holders as far as grades, pay and promotions and other benefits are concerned both will get employment, grade, promotion etc. in their respective cadres/streams.
Committee had also recommended that notification withdrawn by HEC should be restored to provide interim relief to 350 thousand technologists till a separate service structure is formed for them.
Chairman Committee expressed his displeasure on the non-compliance of the said recommendation and passive resistance by HEC and directed the Secretary Ministry to seek an explanation on the matter from HEC and present it in the next meeting of the committee.
Chairman National Technology Counsil (NTC) informed the committee that the first draft of the National Technology Council ACT is finalized However, further consultation with other stakeholders, including Ministry of Science & Technology, and approval of the Higher Education Commission is required. Chairman Committee directed to expedite the process and resolve the issue on immediate basis as it has been lingering on for 70 years
Agenda item regarding Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) income by sources and expenditure by the category; especially University of Baluchistan. Quetta, University of Punjab, Lahore, University of Karachi. University of Peshawar, & Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad was discussed in detail in presence of the respective Vice Chancellors of the universities.
Executive Director HEC apprised the committee that funds are distributed to all the public sector universities according to a formula which is based on performance, ranking, enrollment, type and number of programs introduced in a particular university. She further explained that 32% of the funds are provided by HEC, 8% by respective provincial governments and 60% of the funds are to generated by universities on their own.
Chairman Committee Senator Irfan Siddiqui enquired whether is there any system employed by HEC in order to monitor and regulate standards working, recruitments, promotions and research output of the universities in the country. To which officials replied that HEC is involved at every stage of decision making through representation of HEC officials in senate, syndicate and selection boards of the universities. HEC also conducts performance audit of the universities randomly and performance audit of 30 universities has been done last year and 40 more such audits will be completed this year. Chairman Committee directed to provide reports of the said audits to the committee members.
Officials further informed that in order to keep check on the performance and standard, Quality Enhancement Cells (QEC) have been established in universities and Director QEC’s salary is being paid by HEC.
Meeting was also attended by Vice Chancellors of Peshawar University, Punjab University, Quaid e Azam University, Karachi University and Baluchistan University.
Vice Chancellors informed the committee members of the problems faced by them in running day to day matters of the universities. Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar informed the committee that financial issues have been plaguing the institution for many years now. Pension and establishment expenses have swollen and around 1 billion Rs are dispersed for pension.
Vice Chancellor University of Balochistan informed the committee that university has not increased tuition fees for last ten years. And financial situation is quite bad.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan commented that additional funds should be provided to HEC for bailing out such prestigious institutions which are struggling to manage their finances for various reasons.
HEC officials were of the view that universities should appoint qualified financial experts as treasurers for better management of financial resources.
Chairman Committee Senator Irfan Siddiqui apprised the members that a new sub-committee will be formed to look into research journals and publications of the universities. Sub-Committee will assess the process of research article submission, evaluation and categorization of research journals.
Chairman Committee also informed that committee will also visit universities of all four provinces in order to assess on ground situation of the problems faced by students and faculty. Chairman Committee further commented that committee will facilitate educational institutions in resolving the issues faced by them which are hindering provision of quality education to the young generation.
Meeting was attended by Senators, Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, Falak Naz, Jam Mehtab Dahar, Fawzia Arshad, Prof, Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Molvi Faiz Muhammad, Parliamentary Secretary, Wajeeha Akram, Officials from Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture, HEC and Vice Chancellors of Peshawar, Punjab, Baluchistan, Karachi and Quaid e Azam University.