ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) recently asked 23 universities to get non-objection certificates (NOCs) to validate their degrees after finding several universities that were running regional campuses without getting prior approval from the regulator.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, there are around 14 universities across the country operating regional campuses without any NOC from the HEC.
“No sub-campus, branch or outpost shall be established or franchised without prior approval of the HEC,” says one of the guidelines set by the regulatory body for universities intending to establish regional campuses.
According to the documents, University of Punjab, Karachi University; University of Sindh, University of Balochistan, Peshawar University, Gomal University, Shah Abdul Latif University, Islamia University, Hamdard University, International Islamic University, University of Gujrat, University of Sargodha, Government College University, Bahauddin Zakaria University, Government College Women University, and Federal Urdu University of Science and Technology have regional campuses across Pakistan but none of them have taken NOCs, while the satellite campuses themselves fail to meet the minimum faculty and physical infrastructure requirements.
Some private universities including the University of South Asia, Preston Institute of Management Science and Technology, and National College of Business Administration and Economics have also opened regional campuses without getting NOCs.
On October 9, the HEC sent warning letters to these universities stating that the degrees issued by their regional campuses would not be recognised if they fail to meet the minimum requirement set by the regulatory body. The letter further warned that such universities must not admit students to their regional campuses unless they acquire NOCs.
According to the documents, over 12 requests from different universities seeking NOCs for regional campuses are pending with the HEC. Four requests are from GC University Faisalabad alone.
Sources said that at a recently held meeting of the vice chancellors’ committee, the heads of varsities objected to the HEC’s ‘inflexible’ stance and strict guidelines about issuance of NOCs for opening regional campuses.
“On one hand, the HEC asks us to increase enrolment and raise our own finances, while on the other, they are grilling us by sending us warning letters declaring our campuses illegal,” said GCU Faisalabad Vice Chancellor Dr Zakir Hussain.
Hussain said that the Punjab chief minister recently ordered him to open three regional campuses. “We have been sandwiched between the HEC and the provincial government,” he said.
HEC Executive Director Mukhtar Ahmad said there are certain universities which offer programmes in their regional campuses that they do not offer on the main campus. “The quality of education on regional campuses should be the same as is on the main campus, but several varsities lack that,” he said.
According to the sources, the University of Sargodha has also started opening two regional campuses in Faisalabad without getting NOCs.
The sources said that a committee will soon be formed to visit all regional campuses of these universities to ascertain if they meet the minimum requirement set by the HEC.
University of Gujrat Vice Chancellor Dr Nizamuddin pointed out that the HEC should also look into the affairs of private universities which have established regional campuses but did not provide even the most basic facilities to their students.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.
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