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HEC permanent chairperson | PMDC colleges

HEC still without permanent chairperson
Islamabad, Dec 17: Hundred days after the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson's term ended, the appointment of a new permanent official to succeed him remains pending.

The HEC, policymaking institution in higher sector of Pakistan, is working without a permanent chairman since August 26, 2013 when the first four-year term of Dr Javaid Laghari ended. Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gilani was appointed as acting chairman HEC on November 9, 2013 till the appointment of permanent and full time chairman HEC.

As per HEC Act, all the key decisions related to higher education has to be taken by the commission's board which is headed by its chairman and the secretariat acts as the executing wing of the commission which is responsible for implementation of all the orders, decisions, directives of the board.

The education experts believe that delay in the appointment is badly damaging the higher education sector as HEC chairman takes the key decisions regarding the functioning of national universities and higher education institutions.

Some sources close to HEC expressed the opinion that financial crisis in Balochistan and now the independent reforms in higher education sector in KP are also the result of this delay.

Academicians are critical towards the independent reforms as after 18th Amendment, the HEC remained the part of federal government and universities around the country are regulated by the HEC.

Despite Supreme Court's direction to the federal government for selection of regular Chairperson of Higher Education Commission (HEC), the education circles still wait for the announcement of the final name for permanent chairmanship.

On November 27, 2013, SC directed federal government to make appointment of regular chairman of HEC within 15 days. The SC further remarked that no acting appointment can be made on regular posts.

A three-member bench of SC led by Justice Nasir ul Mulk took up the case of Law College for hearing on November 27, 2013. During the course of hearing, the court was told that two names have been short listed for appointment of chairman HEC and consultation process is underway in this respect.

The court expressed dissatisfaction over the appointment of acting chairman HEC and remarked "this is a regular post and neither any ad-hoc appointment can be made against this post nor an acting chairman can be appointed." The academic circles have expressed reservations on non-initiation of process for appointment of permanent chairman HEC even after passing more than one month.

Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, renowned academician and President Pakistan Academy of Sciences and founder chairperson HEC has already demanded for earliest appointment of permanent and regular chairperson through a competitive, transparent, open and merit based mechanism. He also demanded that a highly educated and qualified academician may be considered for this important slot.

Though the chairperson for Higher Education Commission in Pakistan, responsible for quality assurance, faculty appointment criteria and evaluation of PhD programmes for more than 140 universities of Pakistan, does not legally require having PhD degree himself, most of the chiefs of University Grants Commission UGC (1974-2002) and all chairmen of HEC (2002-2013) were the eminent educationalists and researchers with highest education qualification from leading foreign universities of the world.

Similarly, all the chiefs of the higher education regulatory bodies of south Asian countries are distinguished academicians with highest qualification of PhD. Most of these heads have contributed through their decade's long research, teaching experience in higher education sector. Their research work has been recognised and they have contributed a lot of research articles in well reputed international impact factor research journals.

The appointed heads of University Grants Commissions (UGC) Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and India are working on full time and permanent basis and are recognised as well reputed and highly qualified educationists worldwide.

The chairperson of the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka, Senior Professor of Plant Sciences, Dr. Kshanika Hirimburegama holds a PhD degree from Katholieke University Leuven, Belgium.

Prof. Dr. A K Azad Chowdhury, Chairman UGC Bangladesh holds PhD in Pharmacy from University of Manchester, UK. Prof. Dr. Ved Prakash, Chairman UGC India, a recipient of US Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellowship, has held eminent positions in a number of premier national and international organisations dealing with higher education in particular. Prof. Dr. Ganesh Man Gurung, Chairman UGC Nepal, is also eminent academician with highest degree of PhD.

In Pakistan, academicians, parliamentarians and civil society circles have already demanded federal government to appoint eminent academician with highest qualification as full time and permanent chief of Higher Education Commission, the sole higher education regulatory authority in Pakistan, through a transparent, open, merit based competitive process.

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KP to have its own HEC but the move may go to SC
Islamabad: The provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is formulating its own body to regulate higher education, a move described by some experts as violation of the constitution and an attempt to damage the federal Higher Education Commission (HEC) which will be challenged in the highest court.

According to sources, the KP government will table the bill for establishment of Higher Education Council to "regulate improve and promote" higher education in the province in the next session of the provincial assembly.

Special Adviser to Chief Minister KP on High Education Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani confirmed that the council, also abbreviated as HEC, is being established in the province.

"We have doubts regarding the existence of federal HEC so we have decided to come up with a provincial body to regulate higher education," Ghani said.

However, eminent educationist and former HEC Chairman Dr Atta-Ur-Rehman termed the move a blatant violation of the constitution and the Supreme Court orders and an attempt to destroy the commission.

"I am alarmed to see that the KP government bringing a law that essentially takes over the functions of the Federal HEC and will hence contribute to the destruction of the commission," he said.

Dr Atta said he will challenge the move in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgment on 12th April 2011, had declared the attempted devolution of HEC to the provinces by the federal government illegal, and had ordered that the Commission was fully protected under the Constitution under the Federal Legislative Lists.

These include research, professional or technical training, planning and coordination of scientific and technological research, legal, medical and other professions, and standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions as well as inter-provincial matters and co-ordination. These provisions of the Constitution are directly applicable to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and they cannot be tampered with by formulating a new provincial law that supersedes a previously existing Federal law.

Dr Atta said the provinces already have a strong voice in the functioning of the HEC, since they are represented by a provincial secretary or his nominee. The other experts that are nominated by the prime minister are also carefully selected to reflect a provincial balance.

The Constitutional Reform Committee formed in connection with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution had decided that the primary and education issues could be dealt with by the provinces, but since issues relating to higher education are concerned with national integration, cohesion and national development, they must be dealt with at the federal level. Higher education and research is a federal subject in all over the world, including India, Korea, Turkey, China, UK and other countries for this reason.

However, according to draft bill, a copy of which is available with The News, almost all the functions of HEC will be taken over by the KP Higher Education Council headed by its chairman appointed by the chief minister.

The bill says the council will "formulate policies, guiding principles and priorities for higher education institutions" and it will also "prescribe conditions under which institutions, including those that are not part of the provincial educational system, may be opened and operated."

The council will also prescribe conditions under which universities and higher education institutions may be opened and operated.

It will also register and recognise institutions including their departments, faculties and disciplines and give them appropriate ratings (through prescribed fee), for both degree awarding and affiliated institutions of public and private sectors.

The council will also "advice government on proposals for granting a charter to award degrees in both public and private sectors"

It will also review and examine the financial requirements of public sector institutions; approve and provide funds to these institutions on the basis of annual recurring needs as well as for development projects based on specific proposals and performance.

According to Adviser to KP Chief Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, the HEC has failed to provide proper funding to KP universities so the province needs its own body to overcome financial problems.

"Around 19 public sector universities in KP are facing financial constraints and already the provincial government is providing them with additional funding to meet their urgent needs," he said. To a question, he said the purpose of council is not to undermine HEC's role in verification of degrees including those of parliamentarians.

"The council will not assume the degree verification role until HEC is in existence," he said.

But the experts believe creation of provincial higher education bodies will make it extremely difficult for the country to maintain uniform standards of higher education.

"We must have one regulatory body on national level. What if the degrees of one province attested by provincial HEC are not accepted by the other province? " said an official of the commission requesting anonymity.

He said failure of federal government in appointing a permanent chairman of HEC for last 100 days is another reason why provinces are resorting to the extreme move of creating their own commissions and councils.

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PMDC for closure of three medical, dental colleges
Islamabad: The Pakistan Medical & Dental Council has recommended to the Health Ministry to close Hashmat Medical & Dental College, Gujarat, Al-Razi Medical College, Peshawar and Sahiwal Medical College, Sahiwal, says a press release.

This was decided in the PM&DC Executive Committee meeting held here.

The committee took this decision as these colleges did not meet the minimum standards of PM&DC criteria for recognition of Medical Dental Institutions.

The committee also disapproved the Dental Section of Bacha Khan Medical College, Mardan for recognition due to lack of facilities and other deficiencies. Similarly, Federal Medical & Dental College, Islamabad has also been directed to stop their admissions due to lack of facilities and other deficiencies.

While discussing the issues of the students who are studying in Cuba, the committee decided that they will have to appear in the PM&DC National Examination Board Examination (NEB) in order to get registered in Pakistan as medical dental practitioner. The Government of Sindh has also been fined two lacs per student (first two batches) for opening of Ghulam Mohammad Mehar Medical College without permission/notification by the federal government.

PM&DC President Professor Dr. Masood Hameed said that if any medical/dental college opens without the prior permission/approval of the federal government will be penalised by the PM&DC.

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40th anniversary celebrationsof RMC to begin from December 17
Rawalpindi: Rawalpindi Medical College is organising an International Scientific Conference along with as many as 26 pre-conference workshops in various disciplines including medicine, surgery and allied specialties to celebrate its 40th anniversary from December 17 to December 21.

The conference and the pre-conference workshops would be attended by more than 40 highly qualified specialist doctors from abroad as well specialist doctors from twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

The Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the RMC International Scientific Conference Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Fareed Aslam Minhas informed on Saturday that the international scientific conference would be held from December 20 to 21 while the pre- conference workshops would be held from December 17 to 19.

Through pre-conference workshops, latest techniques would be taught to local doctors. On December 20, a dinner will be organised by RMC to facilitate guidance to students by the eminent doctors coming from abroad. The event will culminate with Reunion Dinner on December 21 in the evening followed by a social evening.

Dr. Minhas said that the theme of the international conference is 'Exploring the Scientific Future' that connects the Rawalians of past and present in a scientific endeavour for the future. The conference aims at uniting and converging the diverse groups from 40 batches, from multiple disciplines and at various stages of professional excellence to contribute to the scientific future of RMC, he said.

The faculty of the RMC are organising the conference in collaboration with RMC Alumni Association of North America (RMCAANA), Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA), RMC Alumni UK, RMC Alumni New Zealand, RMC Alumni Australia, RMC Alumni Canada and RMC Alumni UAE.

Dr. Minhas said that the conference shall include 26 pre-conference workshops in the fields of medicine, surgery and allied specialties in collaboration with international alumni. The present state of human knowledge available across the globe is based on consultation and creativity based on scientific research and exchange of thoughts and ideas. Various workshops being conducted at the conference will provide a unique opportunity to local consultants, postgraduate trainees and students to learn and have experience of the latest techniques in the medical field, he said.

He said that the workshops are being directed by international and national consultants who are experts in their respective fields and boast extensive experience. It is a landmark event in the history of RMC that such a vast number of workshops in about all disciplines have been arranged. There will be live demonstrations and hands on training. Participants will learn recent advances, latest techniques and new trends and will have close interaction with the international consultants.

Dr. Minhas added that from December 20 to 21, a core scientific meeting would be held consisting of state of the art lectures, scientific sessions, special sessions, inaugural and concluding sessions. The scientific sessions would be chaired by esteemed professors who were the pioneers in medical education and all specialties from across the nation. Each session will consist of various guest lectures delivered by international as well as local speakers with the aim to inform, promote and globalize outstanding technological innovation, knowledge and research of medicine.

He said that the special sessions in the program would serve to open the gateway and build a bridge between the students of RMC (Young Rawalians) and International Rawalians in USA, UK, Australia, Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world. The news

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