Discussing policy issues: HEC governing body rejects own testing service

Commission wants Javed Laghari to submit Rs1m over his ‘personal’ Islamabad Club membership


Riazul Haq May 27, 2015
The 10-member commission which is a governing body of the HEC met on Wednesday to discuss and decide policy and governance matters of higher education. PHOTO: hec.gov.pk

ISLAMABAD: The governing body of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has rejected the idea of launching its own new testing body to distance it from any controversy while also directing them to re-advertise the post of its executive director.

The 10-member commission which is a governing body of the HEC met on Wednesday to discuss and decide policy and governance matters of higher education.

Within a month of HEC’s decision to formulate its own testing body to conduct tests of Mphil, PhD admissions in varsities and government-funded scholarships, the idea was turned down.

In its 30th meeting today, the commission members expressed reservations over the decision.

HEC chief Dr Mukhtar Ahmed had shared the decision about the new testing body with members on April 29.

Six testing services that showed interest after HEC invited tenders were rejected by a panel of professionals as none of them met the required criterion. The HEC, in 2014, had failed to come up with any official notification or memo that would have allowed the commission to let the National Testing Service (NTS) administer various tests.

In March 2014, the Lahore High Court (LHC) termed the private testing body illegal and directed the HEC to form a new body by May 2014.

The NTS has been conducting tests for admission to universities and various HEC scholarships since 2002. The body has also often been criticised for set test patterns and results.

The commission members suggested the chairperson to formulate an independent body by re-advertising the hiring of a new service body. Similarly, an interim setup of the top universities from the recently released HEC rankings should be selected from all the provinces to formulate a testing criteria and process.

“It is better for HEC to stay away from this issue as it is a degree attesting body and conducting tests is not its true domain,” a member was quoted saying.

Besides, the HEC was also directed to consult the Ministry of Law and Justice for the legal position in such actions.

The commission further directed the HEC to re-advertise the post of executive director (ED) as the three candidates finalised after interviewing nine are not meeting the credentials required for the post. Moreover, an age relaxation was also proposed so more competent people could apply.

The HEC has no permanent ED for the last year and the VC of Gomal University is holding the acting charge whose tenure with one extension for six months will end by the end of this May.

The commission also discussed the proposal of COMSATS University’s issue of dual-degree programmes. The university is offering two degrees for some of their programmes but without a no-objection certificate from HEC. The varsity issues one degree on its own and the other from Lancaster University.

The HEC and COMSATS have been at odds over this issue and currently the varsity has moved a court for permission to continue the programme.

The members rejected the idea of two degrees in one programme and said it will complicate the attestation process at the HEC.

The commission also directed the HEC to issue directives to former chairperson Javed Laghari to submit Rs1 million against the membership he got for Islamabad Club in his personal capacity while he was heading the body.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.

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