Saturday, 21 May 2011

An Article by Dr. Javaid Laghari PhD

Higher education reform
By Dr Javaid Laghari

DURING the past month, much debate has taken place on the status and performance of higher education. Many articles have been written and seminars held articulating various viewpoints.
It is important to review and analyse all with an open mind to further improve the performance and quality of the education sector. We need to address weaknesses and build on strengths.
Discussions have ranged from whether higher education should continue as is to whether it should function under an amended law, or whether it should be devolved. The Supreme Court has clearly judged that higher education and research is protected under the 18th Amendment and cannot be devolved. But this does not and should not rule out the participatory role of provinces in further strengthening higher education.
The provinces should consider establishing autonomous provincial councils modelled on the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which should focus first on improving quality at colleges, which is a provincial subject.
It is also important to have an inclusive role of the provinces in policymaking at the HEC. The concerns of the smaller and less-developed provinces need to be addressed on the equitable distribution of resources, and on the provision of enhanced services at provincial capitals.
Scholarships, foreign and local, are currently awarded purely on merit through a national examination based on a policy approved by the former government, and not on a provincial basis. Approval is being sought from the prime minister to approve of awarding them on the basis of provincial quota in the future.
Development grants to the universities were awarded on an equitable basis as per geographical needs. After the passage of the 18th Amendment, they are now being distributed as per the National Finance Commission award.
Similarly, recurring grants are presently given as per university enrolment, based on a university-approved formula, and not on the basis of provincial population. A consideration here could be that any addition to the recurring grant be distributed as per provincial population, subject to the consensus of the universities.
The HEC has already started work on enhancing and strengthening the role of its regional centres for the provision of its services (attestation and equivalence, training, scholarship processing and interviews, etc.). Most services will now also be available at the provincial capitals. This will facilitate capacity-building at the provincial level, and will go a long way in strengthening provincial harmony and federal-provincial relations in higher education.
Other debate has been academic in nature, and concerns have been raised that the HEC has focused on quantity rather than quality. A large number of quality programmes have been initiated and implemented in the last couple of years, and these results will become visible soon. Yet the criticism continues unabated.
One criticism has been in the context of the foreign faculty hiring programme. However, performance evaluation shows that 330 foreign faculty hired have been responsible for the award of 97 PhD and 405 MPhil degrees to date, in addition to publishing 1,165 journal papers.
A strict performance criterion is now in place for the renewal of all foreign faculty contracts. All approved PhD supervisors have been reviewed for the limit of supervision. MPhil and PhD programmes that do not have minimum relevant full-time faculty are being asked to close down. The backlog of plagiarism cases has been taken up aggressively and universities asked to take action, otherwise these degrees will not be recognised. Centres of Excellence and Area Study Centres have been evaluated, weaknesses identified and remedial measures implemented. Two private universities not fulfilling the minimum criteria have been stopped from offering new admissions.
To improve the quality of teaching, learning innovation and faculty development programmes are being rejuvenated. Four accreditation councils that were recently established have developed policies and criteria for the improvement and rating of programmes. Their responsibilities include recommending and introducing modern changes to the curriculum.
The councils need to ensure that all recommended changes trickle down to the programmes for implementation so that the quality of the curricula improves. Then, 84 Quality Enhancement Cells have been established at universities which are presently assessing 31 standards in 740 programmes and will report to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) at the HEC. The capacity of these quality cells are being developed and enhanced through the QAA-UK
A pilot run of Institutional Performance Evaluation of programmes is currently being conducted, which will be extended to all universities and the results published later this year. This exercise will lead to the first-ever evaluation of universities and the ranking of programmes across Pakistan. This will facilitate students and parents in choosing universities, as well as potential employers for placements.
An area of concern at certain universities is poor governance. Universities have been asked to appoint chairmen and deans who fulfil the criteria of a full professor, and to refrain from appointing retired individuals in administrative positions. Qualifications for appointment as lecturers are being enhanced to have a minimum requirement of MPhil.
On the appointment of vice-chancellors, a dialogue has been initiated with the chancellors to ensure that positions are advertised and a search committee of distinguished individuals quantitatively short-lists candidates and interviews them. The chancellor then appoints from the top three. The qualifications and independent nature of the search committee, and the academic qualification, maximum age, numbers of terms and performance review of serving VCs are among the ongoing deliberations.
Research that is inter-disciplinary, inter-provincial and global and relevant to socio-economic needs is being supported. Two successful international programmes are Inspire with UK universities and British Council funding, and the US S & T Cooperation with US universities. Offices of research, innovation and commercialisation, and incubators are being established in universities (subject to funding) that will bridge research to industry. Three centres in the priority and interdisciplinary areas of water resources, energy and food security are also under development with USAID funding.
Quality education must be made accessible to all. Pakistan should reform and set new standards if we aspire to become a developed nation.
The writer is the chairperson of the Higher Education Commission.

Thursday, 19 May 2011



Higher Education Commission is organizing an exhibition titled
“Display of High profile University Academic Research projects,
one day conference, Setting standards for 21st Century Pakistan-Universities Building Economies, on 26th May 2011” at Serena Hotel, Islamabad.

Monday, 9 May 2011 is conducting a survey on the HEC Issue

حکومتی تعلیمی دہشت گردی -HEC کی تحلیل!

جعلی ڈگریوں والے عوامی نمائندوں نے اب اپنا بدلہ لینے کے لیے پاکستان کے معتبر تعلیمی کمیشن " ہائیر ایجوکیشن کمیشن " (HEC) کو نشانہ بنا لیا ہے- پاکستان سمیت دنیا کی دیگر یونیورسٹیوں کے وائس چانسلرز نے اس ادارے کے اختتام یا تحلیل کی سخت مخالفت کی ہے- لیکن ہمارے " عوامی نمائندوں " نے جعلی ڈگریوں کی تصدیق کی سزا دینے سمیت٬ HEC کے 40 ارب روپے کے سالانہ بجٹ کو ہڑپ کرنے کا ارادہ کر لیا ہے-

پاکستانی عوام سے اپیل ہے کہ حکومت کے اس تعلیم مخالفانہ عمل کی بھرپور مخالفت کا اظہار ہر فورم پر کیا جائے-

آپ اپنی رائے کا اظہار ہماری ویب کے اس فورم پر بھی کر سکتے ہیں-

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Article in the current issue of Newsweek by Javaid R. Laghari, PhD

Running Out
Pakistan risks being left behind.
By Javaid R. Laghari | From the May 6‚ 2011‚ issue
Behrouz Mehri / AFP
Innovation and entrepreneurship helped the U.S. become an economic powerhouse in the 20th century. Today, thanks to an increasingly interconnected world, the same innovation and entrepreneurship have become driving forces for emerging economies aspiring to become economic giants. The world’s economic center of gravity is slowly shifting from the West to the East. According to a 2010 World Bank report on the economic future of the world, the size of developing economies as a group will surpass developed economies by 2015. This is happening because emerging economies are no longer content to provide cheap, low-cost labor. Instead, they are transforming, and leading the way in recovering from the economic crisis of 2008-09.
Two important forces are driving this change—the information and communications technology revolution, and increased investment in higher education, technical training, research and innovation. This should be Pakistan’s focus if it wants to emulate the success of other emerging economies.
There has been a steady shift as companies moved eastward for labor that was not just cheap, but also technically proficient and well educated. From producing next-generation cellular phones and tablet computers to handling airline reservations and healthcare emergencies, emerging economies are taking the lead. American IT giant IBM now employs more people in developing countries than it does in America.
There are currently 2 billion Internet users around the world. The largest numbers are in Asia, with about 825 million, followed by Europe and North America, with only 475 million and 266 million respectively. China, with over 450 million people online, is the largest nation online. Compare that to the U.S., which has around 240 million. In cellular phones too, China leads with 842 million phones, far ahead of the 285 million in the U.S.
Pakistan is moving forward on this front. For a population of 180 million, cell phone connections had hit 100 million by 2010. Broadband Internet connections were just under a million in 2010, but had shown significant growth over previous years.
But where we really need to emulate successful emerging economies is higher education, which has seen a boom. In China, student enrollment for higher education grew from 1 million to 5.5 million between 1997 and 2007. China has built the largest higher education sector in the world in just a decade. Currently, it stands second behind the U.S. in terms of research output. But not for long. Britain’s Royal Society expects China to leapfrog the U.S. into first place by 2013. That China will become the world’s largest economy by 2020, overtaking the U.S., is strongly linked to its growth in higher education and research. There has been a similar expansion of higher education in India, which is predicted to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050.
Other economies are following in China and India’s footsteps. Saudi Arabia established the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in 2009 with a $10 billion endowment and the aim to become a center for excellence in research and innovation. In Southeast Asia, Malaysia is developing an ‘EduCity’ across the Singapore border, with a development zone three times the size of Singapore. Indonesia has over 4 million higher education students, three times more than Pakistan. Smaller Gulf countries, like the U.A.E. and Qatar, have also established academic cities.
There has been a higher education revolution in Pakistan as well over the last eight years, with over 66 new universities having been set up. University enrollment has tripled. Research has grown six-fold in the last five years, and the number of Ph.D.s awarded has quadrupled. Research centers focused on energy, water, and agriculture are being established at leading universities. But that is now threatened by politics, and there is fear that this progress will halt and higher education will again stagnate or, worse, regress in Pakistan.
We cannot afford that in a world that is moving forward very rapidly. Other economies that were once at the same level as us are competing in science, technology, innovation and research with the big powers of the world. With myriad security threats to the country, and bad governance plaguing most sectors, we cannot afford to be left behind. Coupled with infrastructure development for information and communication, Pakistan must maintain its push to improve and expand higher education. That is the only way forward, and if done right, Pakistan too can become a successful emerging economy.
Laghari is chairman of the Higher Education Commission.

Monday, 25 April 2011

What is Orientation & Awareness Program on HEI’s Semester / Examination System? And Why this Program was established?

Higher Education Commission has taken strategic & holistic measures since 2002 to revamp the HE sector towards better quality, achieving relevance to the needs of Pakistan & Providing educational access to all. In this  regard a  National Committee on Examination System (NCES) was constituted in 2003 by HEC to review the existing examination policy of HEI’s as well as  examine & reformulate a uniform semester system framework  in compliance with international standards. The overall purview of NCES is:

v  Discuss the fallacies in existing examination systems.

v  Suggest comprehensive changes in the current examination systems.

v  Design, approve, supervise and review the examination strategies.

v  Make nationally agreed principles and practices.

v  Prepare guidelines for Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education.

v  Review effectiveness of its policies and ensure consistent implementation.

v  Demonstrate critical thinking skills in the examination process.


How this Program is working?

The NCES proposed Policy Guidelines for Examination & Semester System which was approved on August 13, 2008 by the HEC Commission. The same were disseminated to all HEI’s on December 04 , 2008 , With the purpose to orient the stakeholders and also encourage the HEI’s to gradually shift from annual & term system to a uniform semester system in congruence with international practices. Learning Innovation Division was directed to ensure implementation of the policy guidelines as well as to orient and train relevant examination staff & faculty members for implementing the same in the irrespective systems.

What is the Mission of the Program?

“Implementation of HEC Approved Policy Guidelines on Semester & Examination System by Training University Faculty and Examination Staff Members”

Under Orientation & Awareness Program on HEI’s Semester Examination System & Policy Guidelines following activities / trainings are conducted: 

Master Trainers Workshops on Testing & Assessment.

CPD Courses for Examination staff and relevant Teaching Faculty.


Milestones achieved yet?

It is an exclusive Program which has so far conducted 12 orientation seminars and moreover 07 Master Trainer Workshops have managed to develop 175 Master Trainers who are cascading their learning to their peers and colleagues in their respective parent organizations. A Team of Examination System Experts and Academicians is working consistently to improve the Examination  System of the HEI’s.

Who can benefit by this Program?

v  This Program is ideal for the Faculty Members who are designated examination related tasks by their respective University.

v  Examination Staff member i.e. Controllers, Deputy Controllers & Assistant Controllers.


What will be the loss if Program Closed?


Examination System is as  Back Bone in the body of HEI’s Skeleton if no proper platform is provided to improve the systems and make a Unified standard system for all the HEI’s , No Standardization and Uniformity will be possible. No output can be achieved without the proper Strategic Planning for a system and HEC’s Input to establish and Improve the existing Examination System of HEI’s is really considerable, if this Program will be closed we cannot be among the list of Standard Setups of Education Systems of the World.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Enter the Unraveling - Islamabad is trying to fix what ain’t broke.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution was a victory for democracy. It allows devolution of basic services, including education, to the provinces but retains key educational facilities in the federal list, including higher education standards, technical training, scientific research, and progress monitoring of Pakistani students abroad. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) currently performs all these functions as an autonomous body that reports directly to the prime minister. Established in 2002, HEC has accomplished more for education in Pakistan in these eight years than any other state institution in the previous 55.
Despite this progress, the HEC is under threat. On March 29, Sen. Raza Rabbani, chairman of the commission implementing the 18th Amendment, announced that the federal cabinet had approved dissolution of the HEC and would devolve its primary functions to the provinces. Not only is this unconstitutional, it also has the potential to severely damage research and higher education activities across the country.
The record speaks for itself. HEC increased the number of universities in Pakistan from 98 to 132, and enrolment from 135,000 in 2003 to 803,507 in 2008. Since HEC’s founding, 3,509 Ph.D.s have been produced, 200 more than the 3,309 in the 55 years prior. Currently, HEC is funding 7,500 scholars for Ph.D.s at both local and foreign universities. This is expected to triple the Ph.D. faculty in Pakistan. In addition, all university students in Pakistan have been provided with access to a digital library—which is being expanded to include colleges—enabling them to conduct comprehensive research with access to the latest publications.
HEC has focused on research and development from its onset. Disciplines important to Pakistan’s strategic growth—biotechnology and genetics, nanotechnologies, lasers, energy, agriculture and water resources—have been given special attention. Four of the country’s leading public sector universities are developing technology parks with HEC funding. This dedication to developing economies through education has started to pay off. Science Watch has ranked Pakistan among its rising stars several times, most recently in the field of microbiology in January 2011. QS World Universities Rankings 2010-2011 placed four Pakistani varsities in the top 600 universities of the world. Prior to HEC’s formation, no Pakistani institution had made the list.
All this growth will stagnate if the HEC is devolved and fragmented as recommended by the federal cabinet. Public sector universities would be placed under the control of provincial governments, which lack quality assurance and research experience. Degree verification and equivalence would fall under the cabinet division’s purview, raising doubts about the degrees issued in Pakistan in light of the fake degrees obtained by parliamentarians. Quality and research will both suffer.
The impending crisis has not gone unnoticed. The academic community is crying foul, students are protesting, and the negative impact of devolution on Pakistan’s education sector has become the cause célèbre for the media. Stakeholders have urged the judiciary to take notice, with suo moto petitions moved in the provincial high courts. Political parties have also joined in, with the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement denouncing the move, terming it unconstitutional.
This attention has had its drawbacks. Conspiracy theories abound on why the HEC is being dissolved, ranging from retribution for its role in determining that 55 parliamentarians had fake degrees to the provinces wanting to receive additional federal funding (though there may be none) to run the universities that fall in their charge.
Pakistan is suffering from a major economic downturn following the devastating floods last year, and cannot afford to lose its greatest weapon in the fight against poverty, unemployment, social injustice, and terror: education. Last year, the government slashed the HEC’s budget by 50 percent. This year it is threatening to abolish the commission through unconstitutional justifications. It should focus on reinforcing and encouraging institutions that perform well instead of pulling the rug from under them. With 82 million people below the age of 18, and another 86 million expected to be born over the next 20 years, Pakistan cannot afford to ignore the education of its future generations.
By Javaid R. Laghari | From the April 18 & 25‚ 2011‚ issue
Laghari is chairman of the Higher Education Commission.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

FW: [PUTF] Destructive Regionalism

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Abdul Khan
Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2011 9:01 AM
To:; putf putf
Subject: RE: [PUTF] Destructive Regionalism

Dear all

Shakir sahib has righly stated that "HEC has served a hub of Researchers and the statistics are itself to speak. Linking the Universities, defining the criteria to be met, Digital Libraries, PERN, Research projects , journals and conferences and numerous other objectives which have achieved and the scenario would be simply a transformed Pakistan in near future as a result of the pace that the Universities were showing". Fragmenting HEC will be a 'destructive Regionalism step' and it must be stopped.

Professor Dr.A.G.Khan

> Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2011 04:01:34 -0700
> Subject: [PUTF] Destructive Regionalism
> From:
> To:
> Dear All,
> Asalm o alaikum
> A positive outcome as a result of Supreme Court decision in favor of
> HEC and we would continue InshaAllah to work for our cause of survival
> and continuation of Higher Education Commission. It was first time in
> the History of Pakistan that academicians, scientists and researchers
> benefitted due to the policies of HEC and such a healthy and
> competetive culture was being developed and grown but some how it was
> not acceptable to persons working for their own interest. Pakistan has
> suffered a lot already due to the Taliban kharjiites of today
> implementing the policy of 'kill anyone who opposes you'. Taliban has
> used religion to propagate point of view and secular racists have used
> Language and regionalism to overcome the harmony and peace prevailing
> in Pakistan. These hate mongers have tried all their best to destroy
> the state. It seems as if every tribe or clan would start demanding
> their own province in near future. In view of external dangers to the
> nation, the need of the hour is to defend as a disciplined united
> nation and to look for means of being independent , resourceful not
> letting imperialists of today to dictate us. Being dependent on IMF
> and USA would only generate more and more poverty and disturbance
> amongst the masses. Technocrats, economists and scientists are the
> segment of society who can steer the way to success.HEC has served as
> hub of Researchers and the statistics are itself to speak. Linking the
> Universities, defining the criteria to be met, Digital Libraries,
> PERN, Research projects , journals and conferences and numerous other
> objectives which have achieved and the scenario would be simply a
> transformed Pakistan in near future as a result of the pace that the
> Universities were showing. So please use all your means to stop the
> drama and conspiracy of devolution and efforts alongwith sincerity
> towards our Mission would save HEC and Pakistan InshaAllah.
> Mustafa Shakir
> Cell:0322 5156434

people at HEC are vey progressive and respectful

From: [] On Behalf Of Raheel Qamar
Sent: Saturday, April 16, 2011 9:02 AM
To: nadeem abbasi
Cc: University Teachers Forum
Subject: Re: [PUTF] We can accept devolution if .....


I will add my two cents worth, though I am sure that people on the other side of the debate will not be convinced no matter what the facts of the matter are.


In all my dealings with HEC they have always put the smaller provinces ahead of Punjab, numerous times I have been told that we need to fund this project/proposal as it comes from one of the smaller provinces and we hardly get any proposals from them, even though in my opinion the proposals might have been on a weaker wicket. I can assure you that other equally good projects/proposals from Punjab are not funded because the competition from that province is much stronger and better projects are coming from there. Although my personal opinion is that everything should be merit based and all across from Pakistan things should be funded on merit and merit only, but I always give into the smaller province argument. Now tell me is it HEC's fault that good projects or even marginal ones are not coming from the smaller provinces? I myself belong to a smaller province and lets be fair to HEC for giving the due to every province, there certainly is no bias against the smaller provinces, if anything people at HEC are in favor of further developing the capacity of the smaller provinces.


As pointed out that people at HEC are vey progressive and respectful towards the academics as most of them are themselves former academicians, do you all seriously think that you will be accorded the same respect and funds given out when you have to deal with the bureaucracy? In such a scenario it will happen like before that whoever is well connected will get all the funds and people who are genuine workers will be left getting frustrated or leave the country for good. For once in the life of this country things were being done purely on merit, taking under consideration that all provinces need to be developed to the same level and we now want to destroy that as well.


Do you all seriously think that the sons/daughters of the poor will be sent on scholarships when the secretary will be controlling them? Only sons of the influentials will go, I can assure you. Before HEC a long time ago when the S&T scholarships were announced I applied for the Biology scholarship, passed the written but in the interview they did not award me the scholarship and gave it to a Medical doctor who was the son of a General from NWFP (BTW I am from the same province so the argument of awarding a scholar from a lesser developed province did not hold here), I was subsequently awarded an American Welch foundation scholarship, so it meant I was good enough for an American but not a Pakistani scholarship, what does that really tell you?


Merit will be out of the door if bureaucracy starts handing things be it at the center (as proposed) or at the provinces. This is what our fight is all about. The present team at HEC is composed of highly qualified people, who are a rarity in Pakistan and I can assure you will not be available in any subset if we try to establish things on a regional level, let things be centralized so we don’t have to beg the bureaucracy for our rights.

Best wishes.
Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar, T.I.
Dean of Research & Innovation
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology
Islamabad Campus
Park Road, Islamabad

On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 4:35 PM, nadeem abbasi <> wrote:

Dear Professors!

 I think the debate on HEC devolution is deviding our community into different groups on basis of who got what amount of benefit from HEC in past. Those who could get lesser share are angry and .... But we are not realizing the consequences on long term basis if HEC will be dissolved, who will handle the higher education policies in provinces????

We can accept the devolution but before that we should be taken into confidence for future plan. We have reservations and I believe same concerns will be from all the university teachers of Pakistan that is:

Who will be given the authority in provinces to deal with universities for providing research grants, scholarships, developing and maintaining standards etc.?

If this authority will be given to the beaurocracy of the provinces that is education secretary etc., then the red tape starting from section officer through deputy secy., Ad. Secy., Joint Secy, Secreatary and then back through same channel etc. will not allow our faculty and researchers to think of getting such things in honourable way on merit. At first moment in secretariat, the section officer will try to show his powers to the PhD faculty, so Dr. sahib can realize his/her value.

+ Sir if it is necessary to dissolve the HEC then Govt. should give a plan showing that same type of HEC like authorities are going to be established in provinces which will be headed by professionals having reasonable experience in university teaching/reseearch and will be directly under the respective Chief Minister not under the secretary.

+ The good thing in HEC which we experienced is its style of work. HEC employees work in a progressive manner like advance countries. They respond to the querries even sent by emails. They try to keep matters transparent. The high officials of HEC also personally answer to the emails and telephones. They give respect to the teachers and students and have no education complex. They understand us and we understand them.

+ The university teachers are therfore requested to convince our elected parliamenterians that if they are committed to dissolve the HEC then give us same sort of set up in provinces which should not be under any red tape but directly to the chief executive of the province.

+ Secondly, this debate has also highlighted certain defects in present system of HEC. I think the reforms can be introduced in HEC to make it more acceptable for all the provinces. Like scholarship quota for each province, research grants can also be distributed on share basis etc. and then can be kept centralized HEC depending upon the decision of lawmakers as regulated by people of Pakistan.

+ The conclusion of my present mail is that the higher education system should remain autonomous, under highly educated, experienced and visionary persons working directly under the chief executive to provide a free and fair working environment to educationists/researchers in all units of Pakistan and it should not be handled by people who themselves are ......

Nadeem Akhtar Abbasi  

Chairman/ Professor

Department of Horticulture
PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi,

Post Code 46300

Tel  + 92 51 9290771 
Fax + 92 51 9290160 

What is the role of Learning Innovation Division, HEC for the Empowerment of HEI's Faculty and Management Cadre?




Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Why fragmentation instead of merger

Everywhere in the world a merger of institutions is taking place. A lot of institutions in the United States have already merged in twos or threes. A wave of merger of universities and other institutions has spread across Europe with the aim  of centralizing, strengthening the standards and minimizing the burden on the economy. An example would be Denmark, where 25 universities were reduced to 8 universities and 3 research institutions. Here in a small country like New Zealand where a total of 8 universities of international standard exist. Even then they are planning to merge Lincoln university with Agresearch, a crown research institute with reputation for cutting edge research. But it is beyond understanding that the Pakistani Govt is fragmenting everything day by day which yield nothing but a disaster for the nation and country. It  further opens the doors for mismanagement and corruption. HEC was the only national symbol in education and a sign of federation setting standards. “Please leave it alone”. I hope the Govt will reverse their decision in the larger interest of the future of Pakistan and its academia.


Farman Ali


Otago University

New Zealand

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Why scientists love the HEC

Aitzaz Rai 3 hours ago

Research and development is a continuous process and cannot be experimented with.

Science is a process that requires consistency. It takes years to gain momentum before researchers can reap the fruit of the labour – continuity is vital for progress. But in Pakistan, scientific study has already received multiple blows. Mistakes like the devolution of various bodies that support scientific education including the University Grants Commission are being repeated.

Devolution hurts the economy
Investors and global business leaders look at the total budget spent on research and development before investing into an economy. Low budgets mean they move onto more favourable countries.
Apart from the security issues that Pakistan is facing, the reduction of the higher education budget and devolution of a well-established central system to streamline the higher education sector could be catastrophic.
At a time when the US and Europe are looking towards emerging markets like India, China and Indonesia, we should be strengthening our higher educational institutions. Over the next five years, research and development carried in these academic institutions can be translated into economic progress, better job prospects for the masses and a higher standard of living.
As former Science Minister of UK, Lord Waldegrave said:

“If we cut science now, just as the benefits of nearly 20 years of consistent policy are really beginning to bear fruit, we will seriously damage our economic prospects.”

Higher education is worth it
China and Germany are two countries who have invested heavily in research and development. Today, they are among the world’s most affluent nations with all the economic indicators in the right directions.
During the economic crisis in Korea and Finland, they invested heavily in research and development despite protracted budgets and rewards were immense.
Pakistan is producing scientists, engineers, agrarians, and mathematicians who should be able to compete with these.
The total expenditure on research and development in India in 2007-2008 amounted to billions of rupees. About half of this was spent on the higher education sector as a result of which they had a growth rate of nine per cent and projections of being one of the leading economies in the world by year 2020.
If we look at the patterns of expenditure of various affluent nations in response to the global fiscal crisis of 2008, the two areas on which every nation spent heavily on were infrastructure and research and development. These are the areas which lead to the greatest economic return on a long term basis. Unfortunately, in our country the infrastructure was destroyed by floods, and the backbone of research and development is being ruined by again.
What the devolution of the HEC means
We need a centralised higher education monitoring body rather than small centers at the provincial level. One argument given in favour of devolution is that the federal government faces scarcity of economic resources and that’s why the provinces should take on their own role of educating their youth.
Since the inception of the country, we have seen that Punjab and Sindh have progressed somewhat better than KP, Balochistan and Kashmir.
So there was a feeling among smaller provinces that they are being neglected in various educational endeavours at the national level. But after the arrival of the HEC on the national scenario, we have seen marginalised areas like FATA, interior Sindh and Balochistan coming into the mainstream on an educational level.
The strongest indicator of this is the establishment of universities in interior Sindh and Balochistan and the scholarships for the students of FATA.  The second obvious drawback of devolution is that there would not be a system where the standards of higher education can be uniform. There should be a central body with clear cut standards (as have already been developed by HEC in a rigorous process of 10 years) against which one can judge the progress of various degree-awarding institutes.
Bottom line: the HEC has done a phenomenal job in attracting attention towards scientific studies. The devolution of the body will hurt students, universities and the country.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.






rated 4.2 by 5 people [?]



HEC a renaissance in Pakistan

The devolution will be a complete disaster for the education of nation .its HEC putting a lot of efforts to build up standard quality education in Pakistan through different programs .i personally get  refined a lot by the different workshops conducted by HEC.we 25 participants from different universities of Pakistan  recently had a training in AIT extension Bangkok,we have polished a lot by that training and want to cascade that so that the light of knowledge will travel as we were promised by HEC  LID division to be funded fully for the workshop which we gona have in our universities but devolution of HEC is going to make it impossible . The devolution of HEC, is like playing with the future of students and teachers. It’s the only organization in which we believe to secure our future generation. It is promulgating the vision of Higher Education for teachers as well as for students. The existence of HEC is only for the benefit for all. HEC brought awareness about higher education among people.Now I wonder what will be the future of education in Pakistan if its gonna happen……I personally protest against it strongly and I want all of my worthy colleagues to join hands with me….as we cant compromise our future of education…..we don’t want to be thrown back in the age of darkness….  HEC brought  a renaissance in our country….so let it b so …let it ignite the candle of knowledge ……..



I will request you all to save HEC for the future of Pakistan…


Monday, 11 April 2011

Yashfeen at Waqt TV

Tonight Watch Chairman HEC with:

·         Yashfeen at Waqt TV (Live Program)                         Time: 8:00 PM  

Sunday, 10 April 2011

SC fixes HEC devolution case for Monday

ISLAMABAD, April 9 (APP): Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has fixed a constitutional petition along with another plea invoking suo motu proceedings on the issue of devolution of Higher Education Commission (HEC) for Monday. The Chief Justice passed the order on Saturday for fixation of the issue before a bench headed by him.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Tonight Watch Chairman HEC with:


·       Asma Choudhry in In Session at Dunya TV (Live program)                  Time: 8:00 PM

·       Nadia Naqi in Aaj Ke Baat at AAJ TV                                                          Time: 8:00 PM

·        Mohsin Babbar at KTN                                                                                   Time: 8:00 PM  


Monday (April 11, 2011)

·         Live with Yashfeen (Waqt TV)                                                                     Time: 8:00 PM  

Politicising higher education

By Saleem H Ali

As an expatriate Pakistani academic, I have closely followed the work of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in recent years. All government bureaucracies need time to reach their full potential and that has been the case with the HEC as well. Yet, there is little doubt in my mind that the HEC was a net positive investment for Pakistan’s educational development. The news of the HEC’s ‘devolution’ under the 18th Amendment was quite disconcerting because this decision has been made with little forethought and has all the markings of dubious political motives.

When the current government took power, it had a clear vendetta against institutions created or nurtured under the Musharraf regime. While I am certainly not a fan of the pompous general, Pakistanis must give him credit for engaging in some positive steps for higher education. Under the leadership of world-renowned chemist and Fellow of the Royal Society Dr Attaur Rahman, the HEC raised the international stature of Pakistani universities and gave ample opportunities for scholarships for Pakistani students and faculty. Through transparency and effective management of resources by Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi, international donors lavished funds on the HEC which were put to very good use. The performance of the HEC, as observed by international scholars of education, has been overwhelmingly positive. Fred Hayward, who published a study in the peer-reviewed journal International Higher Education Quarterly in 2009, commended the organisation for increasing enrolments in higher education programs by 89 per cent in its initial seven years of operation.

The commission was profiled in numerous international competitions as a ‘best practice’ in the developing world and won several awards for institutional innovation. The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development reported in one communiqué that “the progress made was breathtaking and has put Pakistan ahead of comparable countries in numerous aspects”. Also, note that during the tenure of the HEC, Hindustan Times also wrote an article which was titled “Pak Threat to Indian Science”, in which it was revealed that Dr C N R Rao, chairman of the Indian Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council, had also given a briefing to lawmakers, suggesting that India consider the HEC as an important example of excellence.

No doubt when large quantities of funds are involved, there are always some detractors about the competing uses of such funds. Some critics of the HEC contended that the money should be used for primary education instead. This is a rather specious argument. Of course, primary education is important, but for long-term development higher education is also necessary. There needs to be simultaneous investment in both. Indeed, the example of sub-Saharan Africa should provide a warning for those who argue for a focus only on primary education. Rates of primary educational enrolment are very high in many African countries but their development indicators are among the worst — this is partly due to abysmal higher education.

Some of the other criticism of the HEC came from languid faculty members who had comfortable jobs with little accountability. The HEC’s performance-oriented system was a threat to them and they started a campaign against the organisation. There were indeed some plausible critiques of particular management decisions offered by some notable academics such as Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy and Dr Asghar Qadir, but these could have been addressed within the current institutional framework.

Now let’s consider the 18th Amendment issue in this context. Higher education is a national priority issue because of its importance in development across the board. We cannot afford to have ‘devolution’ in this regard because higher education deserves to be a national ‘equaliser’. Consider the US Land Grant system for universities or higher education streamlining in any technologically advanced developing country, such as Brazil, and you will find some major federal oversight. Using the HEC as a sacrificial lamb to placate provincial sensibilities is sheer folly. There are many other places where provincial government need authority such as in the management of oil and gas revenues, and that could play a constructive role in development and conflict resolution. Let us hope the government will reconsider this move or that our ever-so-active Supreme Court might give this matter much celebrated suo motu consideration. Higher education must not fall prey to petty political bickering.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2011.

The writer is professor of environmental planning at the University of Vermont, US