Students protest ‘faulty’ online system, charging of fee by varsities

Updated 16 Jun 2020

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Police stop protesting students from moving towards Higher Education Commission on Monday. — Online
Police stop protesting students from moving towards Higher Education Commission on Monday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Students from various universities on Monday staged a protest demonstration outside the Higher Education Commission (HEC) against what they said a faulty online system and charging of full fee by universities.

The protesting students demanded the HEC bound the universities not to charge full fee during the closure of the universities and take only the tuition fee. They said when universities were closed there was no justification for asking the students to pay their hostel, lab, library and transport fees. They said thousands of students had been facing the internet connectivity issue in far-flung and hilly areas but the HEC and universities were adamant to continue online classes.

“There is always a second option but you don’t have the will and sympathy to solve students’ problems,” read a placard held by a student of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU).

“Don’t play with our future,” read another placard.

Say students are facing connectivity issues but HEC and universities are adamant on continuing online classes

“At a time when we are opposing online classes, universities are all set to take online examinations. This step is unacceptable to us as in some areas students still have no power supply what to talk of internet connections,” said Asad bin Azam, another protesting student.

Holding a placard, the students raised slogans in favour of their demands.

They said the HEC should make internet connectivity accessible to all students. They said on Monday in various cities students simultaneously staged protest demonstrations against the HEC and universities.

HEC officials held a meeting with representatives of the students at the HEC headquarters and, according to the students, assured them that the commission would look into the genuine issues of the students.

One of the students, who also attended the meeting, said HEC assured the students that their issues would be solved but insisted that exams cannot be cancelled.

The road outside HEC remained closed for a few hours while police were present on the spot to handle any untoward situation.

Recently, the students also staged a protest outside the HEC besides holding a press conference to raise their voices.

After the earlier protest of the students, the HEC in a press release had stated: “HEC has assured the students to solve problems being faced by some of them, regarding internet connectivity and quality of lectures in their online classes as well as subsequent examinations.”

It said a few students gathered in front of HEC Secretariat Islamabad to raise their concerns.

They were told that HEC is in contact with the vice chancellors to resolve all issues being faced by students.

They were, however, categorically informed that promoting students without examination was out of question.

It said students were told that the purpose of the whole activity [of starting online classes] was to save their semester, avoid disruption in the academic calendar and let the learning process continue.

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

The HEC also said efforts were afoot to address some of the connectivity issues faced by students through collaboration with PTA and the telecoms. Regarding their concern for fees being charged by the universities, students were told to inform the HEC about any specific issue that will be taken up with the respective university.

However, the protesting students claimed that despite their earlier protest and HEC’s assurance, the issues remained unsolved.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2020