NA committee approves PM’s proposed university project bill

Published October 12, 2021
A file photo of the Prime Minister House. — APP/File
A file photo of the Prime Minister House. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s proposed university project in PM House got a break-through after three years on Monday when a parliamentary panel approved its bill.

The project will be completed in 72 months.

The National Assembly Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training approved ‘The University of Engineering and Emerging Technology Bill, 2020’.

Members of the committee met at the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) with MNA Mian Najeebuddin Awaisi in the chair.

At the beginning of the meeting, opposition members besides some from the PTI sought deferment of the bill till the next meeting, stating that members were not given enough time to read the bill.

Later, Parliamentary Secretary (Education) Wajiha Qamar, Federal Secretary (Education) Farah Hamid Khan and Higher Education Commission (HEC) Executive Director Dr Shaista Sohail briefed the committee about the importance of the said university project.

Once started, project will be completed in six years

The HEC executive director told the committee that earlier, the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Science and Technology and it was recently referred to the Standing Committee on Federal Education.

She said the government had directed the HEC to initiate the case for establishment of a university in Islamabad with a focus on Engineering and Emerging Technologies.

Accordingly, a draft bill was prepared in line with the Federal Universities Ordinance, 2002. She said as establishment of the university was a public-sector initiative, HEC recommends that the case should be instantly accelerated to the extent that an Act is processed.

Upon promulgation of the Act, obtaining of a no-objection certificate (NOC) will be a requirement based on affirmative assessment by the Accreditation Committee of HEC in the light of federal cabinet’s criteria for fulfillment of physical, academic and financial requirements before commencement of academic activities.

She informed members that the approval shall not be used as a precedent in any other case especially for enactment of charter of private sector universities/institutions. The committee approved the bill despite of opposition from opposition members. The government has already approved Rs23 billion for this project.

The university will have seven centres of excellence; three will be setup in the PM House and four others in the area of Kuri, where government land is available for the project, committee members were told. It is a six-year long project whereas admissions will be offered from the upcoming spring session.

It is relevant note here that the government is already in talks with Capital Development Authority (CDA), HEC and Ministry of Federal Education to start operations of the university in the Sir Syed Memorial Building G-5 on a temporary basis so that admissions can be offered for the spring session.

On the other hand, Sir Syed Society had filed a case against this move of the government. Syed Ahmed Masood, who looks after affairs of the society told Dawn that the society’s premises could be made available to the government for an interim period only on rent basis.

Sources said that for starting the university project in G-5, the government will have to amend Islamabad’s master plan as the sector is not meant for educational activities rather it is reserved for government buildings.

Earlier, the committee also recommended to approve ‘The Pakistan Global Institute Bill, 2021’ (Government Bill). Under this bill, a Korean group will set up a university near Rawat area under the Foreign Direct Investment programme.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2021

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