Higher education fiasco: Accreditation committee dysfunctional since resignation by its head, member

Published October 4, 2021
A file view of the Government College University (GCU) in Lahore. — Photo courtesy GCU Facebook
A file view of the Government College University (GCU) in Lahore. — Photo courtesy GCU Facebook

LAHORE: Punjab government has failed to complete an accreditation committee to regulate the affairs of private universities in the province for the last four months since its chairman and a member had resigned over “intervention” by some private institutions in their work.

Constituting the accreditation committee on Nov 28, 2019 for a period of four years, the provincial authorities had appointed Government College University (GCU) former vice chancellor Dr Khalid Aftab as its chairman. Other members include higher education department secretary, LUMS faculty member Mian Khalid Rehman, Islamia University Bahawalpur Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Athar Mahboob, NCA ex-principal Prof Dr Naazish Ataullah and HED additional secretary (academics).

The committee was to perform various functions, including evaluation of the feasibility for the establishment of new higher education institutes/universities in the private sector in Punjab for grant of degree awarding status and charter, addition of new faculties by the private sector institutions, decide matters relating to sub-campuses set up in private sector, grant of affiliation by the private sector higher education institutions, besides monitoring and inspection of these institutions, evaluation of their performance and processing accreditation matters of their sub-campuses, faculties, departments and disciplines as assigned to it by the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) and the government from time to time.

However, the committee chairman Dr Aftab and a member, Dr Naazish Ataullah, resigned from their positions citing “increasing interference” of the private sector educational institutions some four months ago. The both had reservations about allowing sub-campuses of some private universities.

The government did not appoint the new chairman and member to replace Dr Aftab and Dr Atauulah and the committee had been dysfunctional for the last four moths.

The Punjab government, allegedly bypassing the committee’s proposals, had approved three private universities.

Earlier, the committee had conducted an inquiry into six private universities’ sub-campuses in different areas of the province and submitted its report to Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.

The committee declared these higher educational institutions (HEIs) ineligible for enrolling students and for violating regulations.

The PHEC had also advised these HEIs to fulfill certain preconditions in case they desired to attain the status of recognised institution. However, these HEIs continued to operate under different shady arrangements and ignored the PHEC advisory.

The HED had declared 23 sub-campuses of six private universities as illegal on January 10, 2020 and asked their managements to stop further intake of students and also shift the enrolled ones to the main campuses to complete their degrees.

HED Secretary Syed Javed Iqbal Bokhari was not available for his comment despite repeated attempts to contact him on his mobile phone.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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