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HEC 15-year celebrations: Knowledge economy imperative for development, says chairman

Higher Education Commission (HEC) that started its journey in 2002 with only 59 universities in the country, 2.6 per cent gross enrolment, 800 publications and 3110 PhDs has now reached the number of 188 higher education institutions with nine per cent gross enrolment, 12,000 publications, and 11,960 PhDs. Besides that, 32 per cent female enrolment has now reached 48 per cent.

The encouraging statistics were shared by Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed while addressing a press conference on the occasion of HEC’s 15th anniversary celebrations on Monday. The 15-year celebrations will continue throughout the month in which universities will hold seminars and open-house activities in order to interact with the community and bring their achievements before the public.

On this occasion, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed gave an overview of Commission’s efforts for holistic development of country’s higher education sector. He was accompanied by Executive Director HEC Dr. Arshad Ali, and Rector, International Islamic University Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, who is also Chairman of the Vice Chancellors’ Committee, and vice chancellors of local universities. While Vice chancellors and university representatives connected through video conferencing.

Dr Mukhtar said HEC is committed to its role in developing a prosperous Pakistan through strengthening the basis for a knowledge economy. “So far, HEC has awarded over 251000 scholarships to Pakistani students including indigenous, overseas and need-based scholarships as well as Prime Minister’s fee reimbursement scheme.”

Talking about other achievements, the HEC Chairman said Pakistan emerged in 2016 as a country with highest percentage of highly cited papers as compared to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries according to a Thompson Reuters report entitled “Pakistan: Another BRIC in the Wall”.

He informed the media persons that 41 per cent of HEC funding goes to human resource development, 33 per cent to ensuring equitable access, 23 per cent to ICT development. He further said that HEC has allocated funds for construction of 505 academic blocks in universities, of which 357 blocks have been completed and 148 blocks are under construction. “HEC targets ensuring one institution in each district by 2019 without any compromise on quality of education,” he said.

Describing HEC’s steps for development of ICT infrastructure, he said HEC has set up Cloud Data Centre while connecting a large number of universities and colleges in Pakistani cities under Pakistan Education and Research Network.  Sharing plans about PERN-III, he said the programme will mark expansion to new cities along with up-gradation of campus equipment with 10Gbps support.

He said HEC plans four new education projects pertaining to Smart University Programme, Education Cloud and Services, PERN, and Higher Education Information Management System (HEIMS).

With regard to the HEC Vision 2025, the Chairman said HEC envisions consolidated higher education sector with enhanced equitable access, excellence in university leadership, governance and management, and increased research, innovation and commercialisation activities. He said HEC is striving hard to increase faculty in HEIs apart from improvement the quality of curricular content at all levels.

Shedding light on some other initiatives, he said HEC has formed Online Attestation System and it has formulated National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Pakistan Qualification Register (PQR) as a part of NQF. “Establishment of Education Testing Council is another initiative for ensuring quality of student intake in our higher education institutions.”He said HEC has become a part of Washington Accord, adding that negotiations are underway about joining the Sydney Accord also.

Imran, Myra. HEC 15-year celebrations: Knowledge economy imperative for development, says chairman. The News, September 12, 2017.

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