The Higher Education Commission (HEC) Smart University project is proceeding well ahead of its schedule and within its approved budget, the commission said in a statement issued on Friday.
According to HEC the project was approved in 2015, at a total cost of Rs2.4 billion. There has been no change in the contract cost since then. Work on the project started in 2016 and is scheduled to be completed in eight years, that is 2024.
The allocation is to be spent in eight years, however, the main deployment of the equipment (phase-I of the project) will be completed in 2019. It is fully on schedule and all targets are expected to be met, the HEC statement said.
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The aim of the project is to equip university campuses with blanket Wi-Fi coverage, in order to enable the deployment of other smart instruments as needed. The project has provided a suite of important services to thousands of students and faculty members across the country. This includes blanket Wi-Fi coverage, student authentication, guest Wi-Fi portals for visitors, and Eduroam (a secure, world-wide roaming access service available in thousands of locations in over 100 countries).
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from universities, the scope of coverage was expanded to include hostels as well. This was done before the launch of phase-I, and with the consent of all stakeholders including a high level steering committee comprised of vice chancellors, senior government officials, and higher management of HEC.
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So far, a total of 63 universities have been facilitated with blanket Wi-Fi connectivity. This has been done with the fulfillment of all legal and procedural formalities for contracts and payments.
HEC has strict rules regarding compliance with legal provisions. No payments can be made without proper pre-audit. Any delays in the execution result in the imposition of financial penalties on the providers as per contract. The contractors are required to obtain acceptance certificates from universities on completion of installation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2019.
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