Students raise slogans during their protest outside HEC on Wednesday. — White Star
Students raise slogans during their protest outside HEC on Wednesday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Students from various universities protested outside the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday seeking the resolution of various issues.

Holding a large banner and a few placards, the small group said students, especially those who live in remote parts of the country, have been facing internet connectivity problems and are unable to attend online classes. They argued that either such facilities should be available all over the country, or that online classes should be stopped, as students in some areas are having difficulty with access.

They also demanded fee waivers and a policy to promote all students during the ongoing semester.

The protest blocked the main road outside the commission, but the students later dispersed.

In response to the protest, the HEC released a statement saying that the commission has assured students their problems with internet connectivity and the quality of lectures delivered in online classes will be solved as well as issues with subsequent examinations.

The statement said that a few students gathered in front of the HEC Secretariat on Wednesday to raise their concerns and were told that the HEC is in touch with universities’ vice chancellors to resolve the issues they were facing.

However, it said that it was out of the question that students would be promoted without exams.

It said the students were told that the purpose of starting online classes was to save their semester and avoid disrupting the academic calendar so that the learning process can continue.

“HEC has circulated prudential guidelines on exams in order to ensure that the students’ concerns are not ignored and every attempt is made to ensure quality of education,” the statement said.

Efforts are afoot to address some of the connectivity issues facing students in collaboration with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and telecommunications companies.

Regarding fees charged by universities, students were told to inform the commission about a specific issue that could be taken up with the relevant university.

The commission said that in a meeting with vice chancellors just before Eid, HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri had asked the vice chancellors to take steps to resolve problems facing graduating students, to make decisions regarding new admissions, thesis research and the use of laboratories.

The statement said the HEC also shared guidelines with universities about online thesis defence.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020