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HEC bill may kill education | AIOU admissions

HEC bill may kill education, benefit fake degree holders
Islamabad, Jan 28: Despite the 2010 directive of the Supreme Court, the educational degrees of a total of 393 parliamentarians remain unverified as yet and are thus considered suspect or fake, it is learnt

However, these 393 MPs would find themselves in serious trouble in the next elections as the authorities are expected to get their degrees, as shown in the 2008 elections, verified from the HEC before clearing them to contest in the upcoming polls.

Sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Higher Education Commission said that although the degrees of 56 parliamentarians have been declared fake, with 18 under litigation, the documents of 393 parliamentarians have not yet been verified because of non-cooperation of the federal/provincial governments and the assemblies.

It is feared that many of these unverified degrees would be fake, but the exercise of degree verification, that was in full swing during the second half of 2010, has been halted now as the holders of unverified degrees include extremely powerful parliamentarians.

The sources said the degrees of 56 MPs had been declared fake by the HEC; there are 18 MPs whose fake degree cases are pending with different courts; the cases of 250 MPs are pending with the HEC as degrees are not being provided for verification; matriculation/inter certificates of 47 MPs have been sent by the HEC to different universities but without any response from these institutions; whereas the verification of 19 MPs' graduation/master's level degrees await the verification of respective universities.

Documents show that the MPs whose matriculation/inter certificates have not yet been provided to the HEC for verification include 12 senators, 96 MNAs, 88 members of the Punjab Assembly, eight members of the Sindh Assembly, 37 members of the KPK Assembly, and nine members of the Balochistan Assembly. Those whose degrees/certificates are yet be verified include members of the PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, ANP and others.

In June 2010, the HEC was directed by the ECP on the orders of the Supreme Court to have the degrees of all parliamentarians verified. The commission did the job in a remarkable manner despite the fact that its chairman had been told by the PPP leadership to go-slow on the issue. However, when the HEC Chairman Javed Leghari did not cave in to pressure, he was asked to resign but he refused.

Later Leghari's younger brother Farooq Leghari was picked up from interior Sindh by the provincial police and later produced before the court and charged with corruption. The junior Leghari was given bail but was rearrested on other charges. He again got bail from the court but was arrested a third time from Hyderabad. The ancestral farmhouse of the chairman HEC in Hyderabad was ransacked and farmers were picked up and put under detention.

After failing to browbeat Leghari, the government started targeting the HEC. The government initially tried to devolve the commission but it was saved following the intervention of the apex court. Later the HEC was faced with budgetary cuts. Almost 40 percent of the funds required by the universities were cut back.

When the employees, including faculty members, staff and students, went on a nationwide strike up to 20 percent funds were released. Later, an effort was made to put the HEC under the administrative and financial control of the Ministry of Education and Training but the notification in this respect was revoked by the SHC.

Then the government made yet another move to take charge of the HEC. Taking advantage of the executive director's position which had been advertised by the HEC and which the commission had the authority to appoint, the prime minister directed the secretary education and training to take charge as the acting ED.

The chairman HEC refused to accept this, which led to a huge battle between the HEC and the government. The battle again reverted to the apex court, which suspended the government's order and ordered the HEC to appoint the ED. This was yet anther defeat for the regime.

Finally, the government decided to amend the existing HEC law to take away its autonomy besides slashing the term of the chairman from the existing four to a proposed three years. A few PPP members moved the bill as a private members bill, which came up for hearing on Jan 23 in the NA committee that instantly cleared the same.

It is apprehended that if this bill passes through parliament, the future of higher education in the country would be jeopardised.

While the suspected fake degree holders are all set to teach the HEC an exemplary lesson, some foreign nations, including Turkey, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are replicating the Pakistani model of the HEC.

While we are settling personal scores at the cost of national institutions, India is going a step further and establishing a supra-HEC with far-reaching consequences to position itself as a regional leader.

It is said that the World Economic Forum Global Competitive report indicators on higher education and training, technology readiness and innovation have shown a consistent improvement over the last three years for Pakistan, much more than many other countries, which is a clear proof that higher education reforms are paying off.

HEC sources demand that the apex court should take suo moto notice of this latest attack on the future of the country's youth.

A federal minister, who is vigorously pursuing the onslaught on the HEC too holds a degree which has been challenged in the LHC as fake so a conflict of interest situation also exists. The news

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VCs' worrisome appraisal of HEC status
Islamabad: The vice chancellors of the public-sector universities have strongly reacted to the approval of the draft of the Higher Education Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012 by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education and Professional Training without taking the stakeholders into confidence.

The VCs of Punjab universities are unanimous in saying that amending the HEC Ordinance 2002 and giving it under the administrative control of the education ministry will be tantamount to curbing the commission's autonomy and "reducing vice chancellors role to reporting to clerks".

They say the bureaucracy lacks guts to run educational affairs as it is a specialised field and needs to be handled by educationists. The bureaucratic output can be seen while assessing the quality of education being imparted in public colleges across the country, they say.

The MNAs from FATA, the PML-N and the MQM had reportedly opposed the bill which also suggests that the commission chairman should not have the status of a federal minister. The bill also proposes that the government will directly fund the universities.

Some of the VCs smell foul play in approving the bill hurriedly while relating chairman and federal education minister's tussle over the appointment of the HEC executive director. Some VCs and other stakeholders also say the commission was formed after a marathon 18-month consultation in 2002 but its reversal has been decided with a blink of an eye.

University of Gujrat Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Nizamuddin said the HEC's autonomy must not be compromised and it must continue to be run by top educationists in the country. He said only top educationists could ensure production of quality research, quality standards, universities' ranking and compatibility at the international level.

He said the HEC had progressed during the last one decade due to timely decisions taken by the members of the commission, who were primarily top educationists.

Dr Nizamuddin said the HEC had sent over 5,000 top-merit students abroad for PhD studies at its expense. He said the colleges should have also been given under the control of the HEC instead of the Higher Education Department being run by the bureaucracy. "The HEC must be handled by educationists and not by section officers," he commented.

Lahore College for Women University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Sabiha Mansoor said the HEC had made remarkable achievements during the last one decade and its autonomy must not be hurt. The commission should be allowed to continue its good work of taking the country's higher education to international standards.

Dr Mansoor said the HEC was at a crossroads and any decision to re-structure it would cost dearly to higher education in general and universities in particular. Even when provincial higher education councils would be formed, the VC said, the HEC would have a crucial role in terms of quality assurance, monitoring, ranking and funding.

She said the VCs would literally be reporting to clerks and facing hurdles while executing their decisions at almost every level, if the commission went under the control of the Federal Ministry of Education. "I was very happy over the massive autonomy in the first year of my tenure but amendments to the Punjab Universities' Acts have clipped my wings," she said.

University of Sargodha Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Chaudhry Muhammad Akram said the universities would be reduced to pubic colleges within two years, if the bureaucracy was empowered to run these through amendments to the HEC ordinance.

The VCs had already been showing their concern over the developments taking place with regard to the HEC by expressing their apprehension that the autonomy and sanctity of the commission would be undermined. At a recent meeting, the VCs had noted that the universities had shown tremendous progress in the last decade and the HEC reforms were making the other countries in the region envious.

They stated that Turkey already had a similar commission, while Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were in the process of replicating the HEC model. They said India was going a step further and establishing a supra-HEC with far-reaching consequences to position itself as a regional leader.

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report indicators on higher education and training, technology readiness and innovation had also shown a consistent improvement over the last three years for Pakistan, much more than many other countries. "This is a clear proof that the higher education reforms are paying off," a VC stated.

Another VC said Pakistan had now achieved critical mass and reached a point of take-off. "For this phenomenal growth to continue, it is important for the government and other stakeholders to support and further strengthen the HEC as a national institution and protect its autonomy, instead of downgrading it. If this upward momentum continues for another 10 years, Pakistan is certain to become a global player through a flourishing knowledge economy and a highly-literate population," said a resolution passed by the VCs.

An HEC official said the commission had accomplished far more in the last one decade than Pakistan had gained in the first 55 years of its existence. He stated that the commission was instrumental in increasing the number of universities' campuses in Pakistan from 168 to 258, including the establishment of 41 new universities.

The student enrolment in universities increased from 330,000 to over a million. The women enrolment in varsities increased from 36 per cent to 46pc.

The official stated that Pakistan's six universities had now been ranked among the Top 300 Asian universities, while two Pakistani universities had been ranked among the Top 300 science and technology institutions of the world.

He said the commission had also awarded more than 10,000 local and foreign MPhil/PhD scholarships through a well-defined and transparent mechanism without making any compromise on merit. Over 2,000 scholarships were also awarded to the talented youth of Balochistan and FATA.

The commission had also launched 10,000 Need Based Scholarship Programmes for financially constrained but talented Pakistani students.

The HEC was also instrumental for eight-fold increase (from 816 in 2002 to over 6,300 in 2011) in international research publications resulting from research work undertaken in Pakistan. It contributed 300 per cent increase in Pakistan's share of World Research with Pakistan having 0.32 per cent of the world's publications in 2010. Dawn

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ISF to launch countrywide protest over HEC issue
Lahore: Insaf Students Federation (ISF), the student wing of Tehrik-e-Insaf, has announced the launch of a countrywide protest against the move of federal government for curtailing the autonomy of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

According to a press release issued here on Sunday, the ISF office-bearers said no one would be allowed to play with the HEC for serving their personal interests.

They vowed to foil every attempt made to curtail the power and autonomy of the HEC as it would directly affect the future of thousands of students studying higher education. They alleged the PPP-led federal government wanted to protect fake degree holders by introducing new laws for the HEC. The news

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AIOU admissions to Matric, MA/MSc programmes continue
Islamabad: The admissions for the Spring Semester 2013 from Matric to MA/MSc level programmes in different disciplines continue at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU).

Prospectuses and admission forms for the Spring Semester can be obtained from the sale points of the university's main campus in Sector H8 and country-wide regional campuses and coordinating offices, said a news release issued here on Sunday. The admission forms along with prescribed fee can be submitted in countrywide branches of Bank Al-Falah, Habib Bank Ltd, First Women Bank and Allied Bank and in the nominated branches of the National Bank of Pakistan and Muslim Commercial Bank.

The admission forms and prospectus of Matric, FA and BA level programmes for Pakistanis in the Middle East can be obtained/ download from the website del.aiou.edu.pk. Computer admission forms have been sent to all the continuing students, and they can also download the continuing admission form from the website www.aiou.edu.pk. According to director admissions, the admissions to MSc are being offered in mass communication, mathematics, sociology, forestry extension, statistics, chemistry and physics, four-year BS programmes in microbiology and chemistry, commonwealth of learning MBA/MPA, MCom, MA in distance and non-formal education, teacher education, educational planning and management (EPM), special education, library and information sciences, TEFL and history.

While the admissions to MEd are being offered in Master in Education (distance and non-formal education), teacher education, science education and special education. In post-graduate diploma programme, environmental design, EPM, mass communication, computer science (on ine), TEFL and youth development work, at bachelor's level, BCom, mass communication, BA, BLIS, FA, ICom, FSc (pre-engineering), FSc (pre-medical) Matric, ATTC, CT, Matric, FA and BA in Dars-e-Nizami, six-months duration certificate courses, agricultural courses and three-months duration short-term educational programmes are also being offered. Further detail about admissions for the Spring Semester can be obtained from Information Management Unit of the admission department. app

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Dr Niaz new VC AAUR
Rawalpindi: Professor Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad has been appointed Vice Chancellor of Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University Ra-walpindi (PMAS-AAUR).

Professor Dr. Rai Niaz Ahmad carries a remarkable academic career throughout his education. He got Doctorate Degree in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University (ISU) USA. He was serving as Dean, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering and Technology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF). He is author of more than 90 international and national research publications.

A ceremony was held at the university in which Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Azim Malik, dean/ directors, administrative, principal officers of the university participated.

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190 students present research papers
Islamabad: Over 190 students of Ms and PhD presented their research papers on a variety of topics related to public interest at a three-day National Research Conference concluded here.

The conference organized by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) invited students from different private and public sector universities to present their research papers before a committee of education experts which after due scrutiny and evaluation will make the papers public for common benefit of the masses.

Once the committee decides on the authenticity and accuracy of the papers they are expected to bring to light several interesting findings particularly related to socio-culture sphere and significantly contributes towards raising awareness about the prevailing issues.

Prominent political and defence analyst Lieutenant General (r) Talat Masood was also present during the conference.

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International Education Expo 2013 held
Islamabad: Pakistani students are becoming quite aware of the high quality educational opportunities abroad therefore time and again educational consultants guide them with their programmes and visa processing etc.

HR Consultants organised 'International Education Expo 2013' here on Sunday in which students informed that how they can apply under the category of fully funded, partially funded or scholarship basis right from undergraduate, post-graduate or PhD programmes. There were 40 stalls of international universities, majority from UK, Australia, Malaysia, Turkey and Sweden who were counselling students on their programmes.

Students were seen gathering information from various universities and filling out applications of different programmes. Danish Raza, Executive Officer HR Consultants Pvt. (Ltd.) said that here in the exhibition international staff as well as local offices are facilitating students to peruse their field of interest. There is no representation of any local university here. It is interesting to note here that the universities are also providing diplomas along with the degree programs. Till last year they had been organising 5 exhibitions, 2 for UK, 2 for Australia and 1 for general international universities.

Now this year, these exhibitions were merged together to hold a single exhibition that would continue till Monday from 1 to 8 p.m. covering programmes of Business and Management, Engineering and Material, Computing and IT, Health, Medicine and Pharmacy, Legal Studies, media, arts, and social sciences," he said.

He said that students should know about the authenticity of the consultants as well as the universities to avoid frauds. We follow strict language abilities of the students but do not charge any consultation fee.

Arafat Shahaid, Director HR Consultants Pvt. (Ltd.) said that they are representing 200 universities established in Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Malaysia, Dubai, Germany, Sweden etc. These are among the top 100 public universities around the globe and the students opt to study in these leading universities. The news

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