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LAHORE: The Higher Education Commission and public as well as private universities have agreed to make more concerted efforts to ensure provision of quality education to students.

The varsities have also agreed to revisit their faculty appointments, student admissions, opening of new institutions and sub-campuses, curriculum development, offering new degree courses, granting affiliations, teaching and research matters.

The HEC and the VCs of more than 120 public and private universities made the pledge on the conclusion of the three-day VC Committee meeting here on Wednesday.

Speaking at the concluding session, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed stressed implementation of quality criteria and other higher education policies in letter and spirit.

Ms Shahnaz Wazir Ali, a former adviser to prime minister and SZABIST president asked the HEC to play a leadership role, adding there should not be different standards for different varsities. She urged the varsity heads and HEC to adopt a coherent approach in making policies and their implementation.

The issue of Tenure Track System (TTS) was also discussed in the meeting. Concern was expressed about non-approval of statutes from respective governing bodies, non-submission of statutes and relevant record to the HEC, appointments without advertisement, TRP committee without two foreign experts, lack of Departmental Tenure Review Committees, nonobservance of annual, mid-term and final reviews, assumption of administrative posts by TTS faculty, not awarding increments at the time of initial appointments, and deviation from contract period.

The VCs agreed that these shortcomings would be addressed on priority.

HEC’s accreditation procedure for opening new varsities, sub-campuses as well as criteria for affiliating colleges was also described and the VCs were urged to follow it.

The commission showed concern over violation of the criteria for opening DAI/sub-campuses, grant of affiliations exceeding the jurisdictional limits defined in respective Acts/Charters, offering programmes in affiliated colleges which were not available on the principal seat, vetting of Charters as per cabinet criteria, increased enrollment of students without required facilities and an acute shortage of faculty, foreign collaborations with non-chartered institutions.

A VC underlined how the medical education had suffered due to lack of proper policies as well as implementation of the existing ones. He requested the vice chancellors of medical universities to come up with suggestions and enhance coordination with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for improving overall quality of medical education in the country.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said the HEC would soon hold a meeting of PMDC and medical universities and colleges for identifying different issues pertaining to medical education and setting a road map for the future.

The VCs were also briefed about ‘HEC Safe Campus Solution’ for varsities aimed to address the challenges. The project includes blanket Wi-fi coverage for 30 universities each year along with security cameras for surveillance of campuses.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2016