ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly Standing Committee on Education and Training in a meeting assured the vice chancellors that the committee will not table any bill, which is damaging to the performance and curtail the autonomy of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the proposed legislation for the Commission will not be supported unless it includes input from the stakeholders.

The 11th Vice Chancellors’ Committee meeting was held at HEC Islamabad Tuesday. Rectors and vice chancellors representing 137 public and private sector universities attended the meeting. The one point agenda of the meeting was the recently proposed Private Members HEC Amendment Bill. Sheikh Rohale Asghar, Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Education and Training along with other committee members including Surraiya Jatoi (PPPP), Tasneem Siddiqui (PML N), Qudsia Arshad (PML N), Dr Donya Aziz (PML-Q), Rukhsana Jameshed Buttar (PML Q), Shaikh Salahuddin (MQM) and Sufyan Yousaf (MQM) also attended the meeting and listened to and exchanged views with the VCs relating to their reservations and concerns over the amendment bill.

The Chairman Sheikh Rohale Asghar and other committee members of the Standing committee were of the view that any legislation that takes away the dynamism and autonomy of HEC will be damaging to the higher education sector in the country. They were of the unanimous view that HEC is one institution which has functioned extremely well and has delivered wonderful results during the last decade.

On the behalf of the committee, he categorically stated that the legislation should be based upon careful review of past progress and consultation with the relevant stakeholders so that this model organisation may be further strengthened to continue its positive role.

Sheikh Rohale Asghar remarked that the committee would not undertake any step undermining the autonomy and future of higher education in Pakistan. “We will not table any bill which is damaging to the performance and will curtail the autonomy of HEC. We need to strengthen the institutions”, he emphasized.   The VCs apprised the committee members that the universities have shown tremendous progress in the last decade and the HEC reforms are being followed by the other countries as role model. The main factors for the excellent contribution by this organisation are its autonomy and its management which is comprised of capable and highly qualified educationists and professionals and there is dire need to further strengthen this organisation.  The proposed bill would  have detrimental effect on the higher education sector and would revert back all the achievements gained during last decade. 

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 paly pivotal role for the well-being of Pakistani people and industrial growth through strong university-industry linkages.

It would be extremely unfortunate if at this point legislative step are taken without any consultation with the stakeholders  The vice chancellors felt that any changes in the HEC Act should have the recommendations of the Task Force established by the Prime Minister’s High Powered Committee which is awaiting notification.

They demanded that the Task Force may be notified so that consultation process may be started without further delay. The Vice Chancellors also highlighted the financial problems being confronted by higher education sector.

HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid R. Laghari extended thanks to NA Standing Committee Chairman and its members for sparing their time to have input of the vice chancellors who are the most important stakeholder in the higher education sector. The Vice Chancellors were also appreciative of the assurances given by the Standing Committee that that the autonomy of HEC would not be compromised.