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HEC postpones plan to rank universities

September 14, 2006

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LAHORE, Sept 13: The Higher Education Commission has for the time being put on hold its plan to rank universities in the country, fearing that such an action at this stage will cause more harm than good.

Instead, the commission has issued a detailed assessment of the universities’ strengths and weaknesses in different areas, including faculty development, academic programmes and infrastructure development.

It is reliably learnt that the commission had initially developed a list of universities in the order of their ranking. However, the vice-chancellors of several universities at an HEC meeting last week objected to the plan, saying it would be unfair to rank all universities without categorising them in different groups according to their disciplines.

The VCs were of the view that the HEC should rank general, engineering, health and other professional universities separately. Some of them also said it would be unfair to rank relatively newer universities with the already well-established institutions in the country.

Sources said the commission meeting acknowledged the reservations voiced by the VCs and agreed that the ranking would be made while categorising the universities in different groups. The meeting also agreed that the joint list of the universities’ ranking would not produce the desired results and rather prove to be a disincentive for most of them.

Sources in the HEC said the commission then developed a detailed assessment of various universities and provided reports to each of them with an advice to work for improvement in areas in which they lacked. It had assessed each university under 20 to 25 different heads. “Now each university knows its strengths and weaknesses and has a clear-cut guideline to improve in the years to come,” they said.

University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, VC Muhammad Akram told this reporter that he had already received the detailed assessment of his university as decided at the HEC meeting last week.

Sources, however, said the commission would ultimately rank the universities in different categories and issue the list for the use of their management, faculty as well as prospective students seeking admissions to them. —Mansoor Malik