Thursday, 28 May, 2020
Concrete Steps Needed to Improve Quality of Higher Education: Shafqat Mahmood

Concrete Steps Needed to Improve Quality of Higher Education: Shafqat Mahmood

Islamabad: Intensive measures are required to improve the quality of higher education so that the graduates are skilled enough for employability. This was stated by Federal Minister for Federal Education and Profession Training Shafqat Mahmood while addressing the Vice Chancellors Committee meeting. 

The meeting was presided over by Chairman VCs’ Committee Dr. Muhammad Ali and attended by Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri and the heads of all public and private universities, either in person or through video-conference. The meeting aimed to reflect upon academic, administrative, and financial issues facing the higher education institutions in the country.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Mahmood said there is a need to ensure that the faculty is qualified and the curriculum is up-to-date. He also stressed the relevance of education to make the graduates skilled for employability.

He observed that the public and private sector universities are facing a number of issues, which need to be addressed. He added that the Government is cognizant of these issues. He said the access of students to education is continuously improving, however the quality should not be compromised. He urged the private universities to be mindful of maintaining quality while expanding their networks and establishing sub-campuses. 

Mr. Mahmood underlined that the education imparted in the higher education institutions must also be aligned with the market needs to make the graduates employable. He said the Government is successfully running a skill training programme based on six months courses. He added that the majority of students acquiring skill training are already graduates who require additional skills other than their degrees to get jobs.  

The Minister said the Government realise that the universities must be autonomous to cope with administrative and managerial challenges. He noted that different issues of universities face delays at various levels due to lack of autonomy. “We want to enhance autonomy as much as we can.” However, he also stressed the importance of accountability which needs to be ensured for autonomy. He said the higher education institutions must enforce discipline.

Mr. Mahmood also said that the Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarships were a game changer in the sense that the Government was committed to supporting students from low income families. He asked the universities to supplement it with scholarships from their own funds. With this support, universities should also ensure that those who can afford the education are asked to contribute fully to the costs.

He said this is the Vice Chancellors duty to provide their students with an environment conducive for studies. He urged the Vice Chancellors to provide the Government guidance on the issue pertaining to restoration of student unions. “A great responsibility lies on our shoulders to take Pakistan forward.” He also commented on the pension-related problems faced by retired university employees, saying the entire pension system must be reconfigured.

In his opening remarks, Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri underlined that critical issues, like harassment on campuses, have emerged in the higher education scenario. “We cannot allow any issue to pollute the learning environment at our universities. As educators, the responsibility lies upon all of us to provide a safe and productive environment to our students.

He stressed the need for the harassment committees to work for resolution of the complaints.

He shared with the academic senior management that the Prime Minister was sympathetic of the situation created by financial constraints. HEC had requested Rs. 20 billion to help ease the difficulty and the Finance Division has already approved Rs. 5 billion. The moot appreciated the Government’s Rs. 5 billion grant for higher education institution facing dire financial difficulties in the preceding months.

He also emphasised taking urgent measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which has turned into a worldwide epidemic. He said HEC has issued its guidelines related to safety of students, adding that tangible measures are required to safeguard students and provide them with a safe and productive environment.

In his welcome remarks, Chairman Vice Chancellors Committee Dr. Muhammad Ali said it is obligatory upon the university heads to sensitise students and create awareness about COVID-19. He said harassment is a very sensitive issue and all the Vice Chancellors are on board regarding the need for steps to address it. He observed that the authorities dealing with harassment issues must be very careful of false allegations while ensuring punishment to the real culprits. He thanked the Government for allocating additional amount for universities.

Ms. Maleha Hussain, Executive Director Mehergarh briefed the Vice Chancellors about the gravity of sexual harassment challenge. She said sexual harassment is considered a taboo in Pakistani society, which is why many of cases are suppressed due to stigmas associated with it. The surge of harassment cases in universities is a matter of grave concern. She said the lack of implementation of HEC’s anti-harassment policy has rendered the challenge severer. She informed the Vice Chancellors that HEC is revising its policy on harassment to make it more effective and feasible.

Coordinator PIMS Prof. Dr. Naseem Akhtar shared a detailed presentation on preventive measures to deal with COVID-19 by creating awareness among faculty and students. She said the virus spreads due to respiratory droplets released when the patients sneeze or cough as well as through contact with the virus-infected patients and things. She said the symptoms of infection include cough, flu, fever, and difficulty in breathing.

All the Vice Chancellors took part in the discussions, expressing their views on the issues pertaining to restoration of student unions, funding formula, access and quality, university autonomy, and sexual harassment. The also deliberated on the steps needed to prevent spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and address sexual harassment challenge. They said the issue of restoration of student unions must be decided on the basis of results produced by student bodies in the past. They emphasised practical steps to avoid harassment cases in the future. Expressing grave concern over illegitimate political control over universities, they demanded the government to end political interference in academic as well as administrative affairs of universities. 

Post a Comment
   
Name
Email
Comments
  42217
Code
 
   
Related News
Chairman, Higher Education Commission, Tariq Banuri has expressed his profound grief at the passing away of Mr. Kashir Asghar, Assistant Professor and Head of Industrial Relations at NUST Business School. Kashir was tested positive for Covid-19 and succumbed to the virus on Friday.
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said on Thursday that the board examinations for matriculation and intermediate students will not be held this year due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has developed a databank of the online courses available at the national and international level and shared it with universities, while the university faculty has also been asked to prepare virtual courses for dissemination to students.
Pakistan needs to enhance primary healthcare to improve the poor health statistics. This was stated by Dr. Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health.

More News
Imagine Cup is one of Microsoft’s efforts to transform skill development, nurture budding technologists and foster collaborative and innovative spirit.
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed reiterated reiterating his commitment that the federal government would ensure implementation of the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) project without any delay and promised all-out support to Sindh government.
Admission Directors of Nine US universities visited the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and met Dr. Fateh Marri, Executive Director, HEC and other senior officers to discuss possibilities of institutional agreements for admission and placement of Pakistani scholars in the US universities under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor, says official press release.
Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad would hold 2-day international conference on Research and Practices in Education to promote quality education in the country on February 18-19, 2020.

Most Popular
Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) claimed to have captured another "Pakistani spy pigeon" and handed it over to police in Indian occupied Kashmir, Indian media reported.
Adviser to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Information Ajmal Wazir has urged the people to maintain social distance during Eid holidays as the threat of the virus still remains.
The national database for coronavirus shows that 832 more people have recovered from coronavirus in Pakistan.This takes Pakistan's total number of recoveries to 18,314.
Chairman Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneebur Rehman on Saturday announced the sighting of the moon for the month of Shawwal, saying Eidul Fitr will be celebrated across Pakistan on Sunday.

Pakistan
 
Our Partners
Features and Analysis
Poetry & Literature
Local News
Readers Service
Audios