PESHAWAR: The government universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have granted affiliation to 63 private degree colleges across the province in violation of the KP Universities Act, 2012, and regulations of the Higher Education Regulatory Authority, claim the relevant officials.

The officials told Dawn that senior staff members of the public sector universities partially owned those colleges, so they got them affiliated with their respective universities without meeting the criteria set by the Higher Education Commission.

Of these 63 colleges, 34 are affiliated with the University of Peshawar, which is called the mother of all universities in the province.

The officials said the first and primary prerequisite for the affiliation of a private college with a university after establishment was its registration with the KP Higher Education Regulatory Authority but all those colleges were not registered by the Hera.

Section 32(4) of the KP Universities Act, 2012, said, “The application for affiliation of the private sector educational institution, imparting higher education shall be preceded with provisional registration of the institute concerned with Higher Education Regulatory Authority (Hera) as per requirements of Commission (Higher Education Commission).”

Official insists unregistered colleges denying regulator campus access

Similarly, Section 3(4) of the KP Higher Education Regulatory Authority Functions, Rules and Regulations, 2006, reads, “All institutions/colleges imparting higher education in private sector are required to get registration with the Authority prior to affiliation with public sector universities in KP of their respective jurisdiction.”

Majority of the unregistered private degree colleges are professional colleges offering degree programmes in law and professional education, an official of Hera told Dawn.

“All unregistered colleges are imparting poor quality of education as no authority keeps a check on them,” he said.

The official said the public sector universities also violated the criteria set by the Supreme Court for the functioning of law colleges to produce competent lawyers.

“The regulator has been asking the public sector universities in vain to de-affiliate unregistered private colleges for several years as the universities’ high-ups have stakes in such colleges,” the official said.

The Hera has set guidelines for the registration of private colleges, including the availability of classroom size in line with the number of students, laboratory, library, cafeteria, open space, faculties and their qualification, support staff and adequate funds.

The official said since 63 colleges were not registered with the Hera, the guidelines were not followed in such colleges. He said unregistered colleges didn’t allow the Hera an access to their campuses for the inspection of facilities.

The official said the non-registration of colleges with the regulator also caused financial losses to the province’s exchequer as the registration fee of a college was Rs150,000 and the annual renewal fee was Rs55,000.

He said the colleges registered with Hera totalled 385.

When contacted, University of Peshawar registrar Yorid Ahsan Zia said the university didn’t affiliate the newly-established private colleges without the Hera registration.

Regarding the unregistered affiliated private colleges with UoP, Mr Zia said such colleges were registered with the university even before the Hera was established in 2001 and the Universities Act, 2012, took effect.

“We issued notices to the unregistered colleges time and again asking them in vain to get the Hera registration,” he said.

Asked why such colleges haven’t de-affiliated, the registrar said the university had been dealing them leniently as a lot of students were enrolled there and de-affiliation would endanger their future.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020