ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has closed down 31 PhD and 26 MPhil programmes in various public and private universities during the last 18 months, according to HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, the HEC chief said that despite having a limited role in regulating universities, the HEC closed down 57 programmes in various universities.
“Following the advice of various standing committees and other forums, we have started working on a proposal for tightening our laws for the effective regulation of all degree awarding institutions,” he said, adding that universities were accountable even though they were autonomous institutions.
He added that a total of 293 PhD and 57 MPhil programmes of 171 universities have recently been reviewed by HEC teams and that the programmes that were closed were not keeping to the minimum standards.
Dr Ahmed said the HEC had also stopped 56 PhD programmes and 10 MPhil ones from taking in more students for the same reason.
The HEC chief announced that the regulatory body will be launching Higher Education’s Vision 2025 in the next month in order to set new targets in view of future academic requirements and to align educational goals with the government’s future policies.
He said HEC is reviewing market needs, the acceptance level and the relevance of various academic programmes and will launch new programmes and shelve some of the existing ones in accordance with national requirements.
The HEC has been suggesting the involvement of professional accreditation bodies in the launch and functioning of various academic programmes, he added.
“We have agreed with all accreditation councils to not issue conditional NOCs,” he said, adding that only three of 12 institutions which were recently established under the public-private partnership have been awarded NOCs.
He added that the HEC will visit various universities in the second phase of the campaign and 3,000 colleges affiliated with different universities will be visited in the third phase.
Talking about plagiarism cases, Dr Ahmed said that HEC has received 198 complaints since 2006 of which 160 have been decided on. Of these, he said 90 cases were false, in 38 of the cases, faculty members have been blacklisted while 38 cases are under process and six are sub judice.
To a question about opening university campuses at the district level, Dr Ahmed said that 90 districts across the country did not have a single university campus and that HEC will ensure access to higher education in these districts.
He added that HEC was working for the establishment of a Centre of Advanced Studies in Climate Change and that the project will be awarded to a university after a competition.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2016