ISLAMABAD: “The Higher Education Commission HEC has paid special attention towards increasing access to higher education in remote and far flung areas of the country,” said Dr. Javaid R. Laghari, chairperson of Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Monday.
Laghari added, “Within last few years, out of total 55 new university campuses: 31 have been established in rural areas throughout Pakistan”
It was stated by Dr. Javaid R. Laghari Chairperson Higher Education Commission HEC while interacting with the vice chancellors of public sector universities Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at Swat.
He said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 116 development projects amounting to more than Rs. 21 billion have been approved so far. Over the request of HEC, federal quota policy has been applied over indigenous and foreign scholarship programs which would enable and encourage the youth from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to avail scholarship opportunities exclusively available for them.
In addition to award of more than 1960 indigenous and 1200 foreign scholarships: under faculty development programs, 682 PhD scholarships have been allocated for the faculty members belonging to various higher education institutions of the province.
This step would also enable them to equip themselves with latest knowledge and expertise at leading universities of academically advanced countries. Pakistan ‘s first ever Earthquake Engineering Centre and Archaeological Conservation & Research Laboratory have been established at University of Engineering & Technology UET Peshawar and Hazara University Mansehra respectively.
The Research Centre for Polymer Colloid & Surface Science at Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan , Oil- Seed Rape & Mustard for Improved Oil Content at Agriculture University Peshawar and Centre of Excellence in Geology have also been established with HEC assistance.
The other steps undertaken by HEC for the province include establishment of 15 Quality Enhancement Cells (QECs) , 5 Offices of Innovation, Research and Commercialization (ORICs), provision of video conferencing facility at 17 universities, and training of 2830 university/college faculty.
Dr. Javaid Laghari remarked that all the federal units have effective representation in 17 members’ governing board of HEC and National Scholarship Management Committee, the main decision making body.
For effective coordination with provincial governments, HEC has its regional centres at all the provincial capitals, where a large number of HEC activities for the province takes place as well as brings HEC to the doorsteps in the provinces.
Recently, degree attestation facility has also been provided at HEC regional centre Peshawar in order to facilitate general public of the province. Through the Steering Committee, which comprises of all provincial secretaries of education, HEC is closely working with the provincial governments to evolve joint strategy for promotion of higher education in Pakistan.
The development funds are being released to the universities as per National Finance Commission (NFC) award so that each federal unit may get its due legitimate share.
He informed that more than 10,000 Need Based Scholarships are being awarded to the talented but financially constrained students belonging to far flung and remote areas of the country.
These are some of the examples that how HEC is reaching out to the needs of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and trying to assist in this regard. As an outcome of decade long useful initiatives, enrollment at the universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have increased from 30,000 to 76,000, number of universities has been increased from 12 to 26 including first women university of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and HEC launched special projects for the development of basic infrastructure at higher education institutions of the province including labs, class rooms, seminars rooms, labs, transport facilities, digital libraries, video conferencing facility etc.
The vice chancellors lauded the contribution of HEC for bringing effective and vibrant reforms in higher education sector of Pakistan especially increasing access to higher education in remote and far-flung areas of country.
The Vice Chancellors were of the view that the higher education sector has been a growth engine for socio economic development of Pakistan and higher education institutions have started to play pivotal role for the well-being of Pakistani people and industrial growth through strong university-industry linkages.