ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has directed all public and private sector universities in the country to keep their academic and financial matters transparent.
A new letter has been issued after anomalies were found by HEC’s quality enhancement teams in student admissions, financial management and issuance of degrees.
The letter has been written to all vice chancellors (VCs), rectors and directors of all public and private universities and has expressed serious concern over the state of affairs.
“Certain universities announce admissions and admit students three-to-four times a year and even enroll fresh students in summer programmes which are meant only for improvement of courses and fulfillment of deficiency,” said the letter.
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The letter reads that no educational institute can admit students maximum twice in one academic year that is spring and fall sessions as per the policy. “It is neither allowed as per policy nor administratively and physically viable to run more than two academic sessions in one year,” the letter explains.
It advises all the universities to refrain from enrolling students more than twice in an academic year, rather advertise and enroll students in spring and fall sessions as per HEC semester system guidelines.
This is the first time that HEC has categorically mentioned about admissions conducted in universities more than twice a year. According to senior officials in HEC, the trend has been visible in Punjab and Sindh and is being followed “vehemently.”
A private university in Islamabad has already been banned from enrolling further students owing to such serious anomalies and “poor” recordkeeping.
The HEC has also advised universities to maintain proper and dedicated bank accounts for fee transactions of students. Universities have been urged to ensure all fee transactions through official bank accounts instead of collecting fee in cash or through any other method.
This is another way to draw off money by using unfair means in the universities. Legal and authentic channels are avoided to keep the finances away from the eyes of auditors and HEC quality monitoring teams.
In 2016, HEC also warned universities that appointment of key positions like treasurer, registrar etc should be on merit instead of appointing ‘blue-eyed’ that leads to “problems of governance.”
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Another serious irregularity is that “many universities have been issuing academic transcripts to students from its principal seat without mentioning the actual place of study from where the students have completed their educational progress.”
It is one of the tactics of the universities to keep the sub-campus off the radar of HEC which allows and attests degrees of institutions that can function if they have been issued no-objection certificate (NOC) by the former.
At present, there are over 100 illegal campuses and institutions that are running in the country without NOC from the HEC and most of them claim affiliation with renowned universities.
The letter also emphasises “due diligence must be exercised” in issuance of degrees and transcripts and HEC-prescribed semester guidelines be complied with in letter and spirit before issuing any transcript or detailed marks certificate to students. “All transcripts must reflect the actual place of study of the students accurately to save the students from inconvenience during their degree verification process,” the letter underlines.