HEC plans to induct 38,000 PhD teachers into varsities

National conference discusses the plan to transform higher education sector


Riazul Haq May 30, 2017
National conference discusses the plan to transform higher education sector. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is vying to induct 38,000 teachers with doctorate degrees into the public and private universities in line with its Vision 2025 while currently there are only 9,253 PhDs among a total of 34,444 fulltime faculty members.

Details of the plan were shared during the National Consultative Conference on HEC Vision 2025 at the Convention Centre here on Monday. The 10-year ‘over’-ambitious plan, initiated in 2016, seeks to transform the higher education sector of the country.

Minister for Planning and Development Division Ahsan Iqbal talked at length about the vision and how it could be materialised.

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Talking about the funding for HEC, Iqbal said it had been increased manifold during the last few years. For the new financial year, he said, the HEC development budget had been increased to Rs35 billion from Rs21.5 billion in fiscal year 2016-17.

Iqbal’s tall claims are contrary to what the Pakistan Economic Survey FY2016-17 has revealed. According to it, the government released Rs8 billion, out of Rs21.5 billion, to the HEC for the universities and the rest of the releases “are under process”.

While only about a month is left for the outgoing fiscal year to end, the releases show the commitment of the government to uplifting the higher education sector.

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To the surprise of many sitting in the hall, Iqbal said, “The development budget for the HEC will be increased to Rs50 billion by next year.”

The HEC Vision 2025 is a comprehensive document, which has been prepared after extensive deliberations and consultation with eminent academicians, policymakers, business tycoons and industry leaders. It aims to consolidate HEC’s achievements during the past few years and carry on the reform process.

The HEC has put the vision and highlights on its website for feedback, but it seems more of a vision which is federally-focused as there is no input from the provincial HECs, especially in Punjab and Sindh, has been witnessed.

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It is primarily because of the tussle and strained relationships between the HEC and provincial higher education bodies, particularly after the passage of the 18th Amendment. Even on Monday, nobody from those major provinces was seen. Representation from teachers association of universities were also missing from the consultative and drafting process.

Iqbal said, “The world has entered into the fourth industrial revolution wherein huge data cloud computing, artificial intelligence, nanobiotechnology, automation and robotics have evolved great significance.”

He maintained that competence in all these areas requires excellence in higher education.

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Terming the vice chancellors of universities as the corps commanders of higher education sector, he urged them to concentrate on turning the universities into engines of innovation.

“There is bad news for all of us in the shape of the culture of C and P [cut and paste],” he said, adding that that had caused immense damage to academic culture in Pakistan.

“Erecting buildings in the name of universities is no achievement … the real task is to create thirst for knowledge and research,” he emphasised, referring to about 160 illegal campuses and universities in the country, declared by the HEC.

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The minister’s speech was all but practical. In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm … in the real world all rests on perseverance.

In his opening remarks earlier, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed shared the role of HEC in blending the human resource development with the country's socio-economic growth, promoting ICT-embedded education programmes and others.

He said the strategic priorities of the HEC Vision 2025 include sustainability and consolidation of HEC and increasing equitable access, excellence in leadership, governance and management, research, innovation and commercialisation.

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Praising the HEC’s performance in increasing the enrolment of students from 276,000 before its inception to 1.3 million recently, the chairman said, “It is a happy development that gender-wise enrolment has been balanced, as now the ratio of enrolment of male and female students is 52 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.”

COMMENTS (1)

Mir Masjidi | 4 years ago | Reply Axact-ly what the doctor ordered !
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