The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is unlikely to meet key targets mandatory to avail $300 million in aid from the World Bank, ironically “due to financial constraints”.
The World Bank committed to giving the HEC $100 million annually over the next three years, conditional on the HEC meeting certain targets.
However, HEC officials said that meeting the targets alongside irregular releases of allocated funding from the finance division will be an uphill task. They said that due to financial constraints, universities cannot concentrate on research and development – they are hardly able to pay recurring expenditures.
The finance minister had agreed in a recent meeting to release the funds on time, “but nothing happened,” said an HEC official. The targets that the HEC has to achieve are:
Provision of scholarships to 3,500 new foreign postgraduates; 3,750 new indigenous postgraduate scholarships; 1,250 new split postgraduate scholarships; 700 new postdoctoral scholarships; 3,000 additional PhD holders to be recruited on Tenure Track System and staff development courses for 750 staff members. Besides, 2,500 faculty members would have to get English training; establishment of 50 Continuous Professional Development Centres in universities and 4,000 new faculty members to take faculty development courses.
Quality would be ensured in the following: five Pakistani universities to make the top 500 universities of the world as ranked by Times Higher Education; 75 universities to have Quality Enhancement Cells (QEC); 100 institutions assessed against Institutional Performance Evaluation Standard; 75 QEC performing satisfactorily as measured by the scorecard system and quality assurance ensured in 170 affiliated colleges (imparting four-year bachelor programmes).
Additionally, 50,000 private students are to be enrolled through new Directorate of External Students Education; 1,250 training courses for improvement of examination systems; introduction of 75 four-year undergraduate courses; 125 academic programmes to be offered jointly with foreign varsities, 90 institutions to carry out performance evaluations; introduction of 150 new fully accredited programmes and training 500 of evaluators.
Research, innovation and entrepreneurship
Around 12,500 publications from researchers in Pakistan will be published in impact factor journals by 2015; 30 offices research, innovation and commercialisation to be performed satisfactory at universities; 70 universities are to have their services hosted and managed at the National Data Centres; 30 joint university-industry projects, establishment of 60 technology incubators; establishment of five technology parks and 45 US/International patents to be issued to university faculty and students. Moreover, Rs100 million of total yearly income of a university will come from commercialisation research; 75 public universities will have well-functioning offices of research, innovation and commercialisation.
Improving equitable access
At least 10% of people aged 17-23 to have access to higher education; 85,000 students to be enrolled in science and technological programmes of public universities; 100,000 postgraduate students to be enrolled at public universities; establishment of 10 new universities and 35 new Virtual University campuses; eligibility of 35 private varsities for public funding; establishment of 60 new financial aid offices; provision of 5,000 additional need-based scholarships and 10,000 loans to students.
Excellence in management
All university vice chancellors to be appointed following a search committee process; and 200 university administrators will undergo training every year.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011.
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