Dear HEC, your degree attestation process is a nightmare
Over 500 people traveled from all over Pakistan to get their certificates stamped. We waited in line for 8 hours!
Getting a degree attested - sounds like a simple enough task, doesn't it?
Turns out, it can be an absolutely maddening task, trust me.
I had been trying to apply for a visa to Canada, and as part of the process, I traveled to Islamabad from Peshawar to get my Bachelor's degree attested. This is a necessary step for everyone who wants to apply for a visa to the US and Canada and even for those who are seeking jobs within Pakistan.
Before leaving Peshawar, I went through all the necessary requirements listed on the Higher Education Commission (HEC) website.
I arrived at the HEC office in Islamabad and I was given a slip, which had a number on it by, the gatekeeper. Those with me assumed this was a token number, but as it turns out, it was a number to enter the computer lab for filling and printing the form that was required for further processing.
There was absolutely no guidance, so nobody knew what they were doing.
The queue included people from all over Pakistan because Islamabad is apparently the only place a degree can be attested. We were told that those who entered the gate would be entertained the same day - this was a guarantee.
After printing the form, the only official in the lab, the lab assistant, was assigning actual token numbers to all the visitors. On asking the lab assistant, he told us with certainty that,
"Your work will be done today, you do not need to worry."
There was no way to confirm this claim from anyone else, as there were only three counters that were busy entertaining the queues of more than 500 visitors.
After hours of waiting, we were told that the payment desk (one of the first stops along the way) has nothing to do with the HEC, and an employee of Habib Bank who was manning it who would, in fact, be leaving at 4:00pm!
This immediately created havoc as the majority of visitors were waiting there since 8:00am - even if their documents were submitted they could not be processed further due to non-payment.
Imagine, now, people from all over Pakistan had gathered in one tiny office to get their documents stamped. Many were to catch a flight later in the day for their hometown, but now, couldn't leave because even after assuring them that their work would be done, it was not.
Enraged, myself and a group of people went to the DG HEC's office to register a complaint. After listening to us for a length of time, he assured us that the authorities will entertain us first the next day, rather than new entrants, and guaranteed us that this is how things are done.
The next day I went to the office again and got in line. After waiting in the queue for close to seven hours, I reached the desk and I gave all my documents and the degrees to the administrator.
Then came the big blow.
The administrator told me that the title on my degree is Bachelors in Computer Science (Hons) which was different from the one on my Detailed Marks Certificate (DMC - basically a transcript) which is Bachelors in Computer Science (4 years).
After spending two days away from my home, hoping to check off the last task towards getting my visa, I had to leave for Peshawar again, make the necessary changes, travel to Islamabad again, wait in queue for another two days, only to get a lousy stamp on a paper.
Can you believe it?
Why the HEC cannot open offices to attest documents in every major city in Pakistan is beyond me.
Why must people travel hundreds of miles to get their certificates attested? It is a huge waste of time, money and resources.
I request the Chairman Higher Education Commission to take serious notice of the issue and provide attestation facilities at all HEC centers across the country.
Doesn't this make much more sense?
Note: I am not willing to take the risk of sending my official university certificates to Islamabad through courier!
Follow Osama on Twitter @osamayawar