Chairman Implementation Commission on 18th Amendment Raza Rabbani said Wednesday that the ongoing scholarship programmes of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would not be affected despite the commission being devolved as per the 18 Amendment.
Talking to the media, the senator said, "Let me clear it that those students who have been studying under the existing HEC's scholarships would continue their studies."
He also dispelled the impression that HEC devolution plan would affect foreign funding for the commission.
He said those who were criticizing the devolution plan were against the 18th Amendment and were raising a hue and cry that the devolved ministries' employees would be affected.
Protests continue in Peshawar
Students in Peshawar continue to protest Wednesday against the federal government, fearing that thousands of students will be affected if the government does not change its plan.
They said the devolution of the HEC will bring forth the contentious issue and an eventual reduction of funds.
M.Phil and PhD students in other parts of the country are also protesting, demanding that the government reverse its decision.
Updated from print version (below)
Students raise their voices: The fight to save HEC rages on
More than 500 students from different universities and employees of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) gathered in front of the commission on Tuesday and demanded the government to rescind its decision to devolve the HEC to provinces.
The students, hailing from Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Allama Iqbal Open University, National University of Modern Languages, Islamic International University(IIU), Bahria University and Arid Agriculture University, strongly opposed the government’s plan to devolve the commission to the provinces.
They held placards and banners inscribed with slogans such as “Don’t merge politics with HEC”, “No to devolution of HEC”, “Let us build Pakistan-No shredding of HEC”, and “Do not put HEC to stone age”.
The HEC should not be punished for going ahead with verification of the parliamentarians’ degrees, they said, adding that they had come to “rescue education from destruction at the hands of rulers”.
They added that the government should save the HEC from being politicised as it had played an important role in promoting higher education.
Mubarak Ali, a student of QAU, said the commission’s devolution will ruin the decade-long progress in the higher education sector, and in turn will destroy the future of students who are the main stakeholders. He added the step would block the path of students who aim to pursue higher education abroad.
Asghar Ali, a student of IIU, said, “Don’t destroy the HEC as it takes years to develop and establish such prestigious institutions.”
The protesters also pointed out that the students studying in foreign universities on scholarships stood to be badly affected from the decision. There is a good chance they would not be able to continue their scholarships.
Another university student, Qasim Mian, said he feared the elements involved in HEC’s devolution have their eye on its funds.
The students said they will continue to stage protests until their demands are met.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2011.