ISLAMABAD: While briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training, this Monday, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that although Pakistan may not have the best educational institutes in the world, the local educational institutions are continuously improving in rankings.
The commission, he said, has been constantly trying to improve the quality of education in the country.
Dr Ahmed said that there were two types of rankings of educational institutions. In the global rankings, National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has been ranked among the top 500 universities of the world.
In the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) university rankings for Asia, Pakistan is improving steadily.
Pakistani universities in Asia top 300
- Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) - ranked 106
- Aga Khan University - ranked 116
- Quaid-i-azam University - ranked 123
- National University of Sciences And Technology (NUST) Islamabad - ranked 129
- Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) - ranked 181-190
- COMSATS Institute of Information Technology - ranked 201-250
- University of Karachi - ranked 201-250
- University of the Punjab - ranked 201-250
- University of Agriculture, Faisalabad - ranked 251-300
- University of Engineering & Technology (UET) Lahore - ranked 251-300
In 2014, ten Pakistani institutes have been included in the list of top 300 Asian universities
“In 2011, there were four Pakistani universities in the list of top 300 Asian universities. In 2013, that number rose to six and the 2014 rankings show that 10 Pakistani universities are among top 300 Asian universities,” he said.
Dr Mukhtar further said that the finance ministry had made a routine of delaying release of funds to the HEC. Pakistani students, who have been studying abroad, have been suffering because of the HEC as they fail to clear the dues in a timely manner.
It is important to note that after the establishment of HEC in 2002, it was decided that Pakistani students will be sent to foreign countries to get higher education on government’s expense.
Hundreds of students were sent every year, to some of the best universities in the world. So far, as many has 7,531 overseas scholarships have been offered for MS and PhD studies, out of which 3,862 students have completed their studies.
HEC ensures that upon their return they find a good environment for research work and jobs.
Dr Mukhtar said that foreign institutes used to give credits of almost one year, but since the commission has failed to pay dues of these institutes, they have stopped trusting HEC anymore.
“We get the funds late. Moreover, the State Bank takes six weeks to transfer the amount to the foreign universities, as the bank has a policy to retain the funds for maximum time,” he said.
“HEC has been trying to allocate funds on the basis of performance and provide good environment to researchers, so that no one will have to leave the country,” he said.
“In 2002, as many as 816 research publications were published. In 2013, the number of publications reached over 8,000. HEC has been ensuring research in fields of food, energy and water,” he said.
Dr Mukhtar also said that, because of a ban on appointment, universities cannot appoint teachers and it is feared that foreign-qualified scholars may leave the country.
However Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, a member of the committee, said that research should focus on solving problems of the country and to provide relief to the citizens.
In the meantime, chairman of the standing committee, Gulzar Khan, who belongs to PTI, expressed his annoyance at the members who requested the speaker of the National Assembly to call the meeting of the committee.
Khan said that not a single meeting was called while the session of the National Assembly was going on for a month. Addressing PML-N’s Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti, Khan said the attitude of the members shows that they have no confidence in him as the chairperson of the committee.
Khan directed Bhatti to present the report on the HEC, which has been pending for the last three months.
This report, Bhatti assured, will be submitted in the next meeting.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2014