ISLAMABAD-The Higher Education Commission while phasing out two years BA/BSc and MA/MSc programmes on Friday announced adopting new nomenclature of associate degree in documents related to two-year post-higher secondary education programmes.

Chairman HEC Dr Tariq Banuri said that the objective of phasing out two-year BA/ BSc degree programme and replacing it with Associate Degree and subsequent alignment with the four-year BS programme is to ensure that students pass out after acquiring a broad-based education and have practical skills to compete in the field and contribute for socio-economic development in the country.

Dr Tariq Banuri said this while addressing a special consultative session on the launch of Associate Degree with the Vice Chancellors and Rectors. Dr Banuri said that a well thought-out and carefully examined notification has been issued on July 11, 2019, in the wake of 17 years of consultation, to phase out two year BA/BSc and MA/MSc programmes.

The new nomenclature, Associate Degree, shall be adopted in all documents and announcements related to two-year post-higher secondary or equivalent programmes and the previous nomenclature of BA/BSc programmes shall be discontinued.

The chairman said that quality has long been a burning issue and HEC has expedited its efforts to ensure quality at all levels of higher education. “We need to ask ourselves as to what are the competencies required in our degree holders and how these competencies can be developed.”

In light of this decision, he said, the students admitted in 2018 will get degrees in 2020 and their degrees will be considered valid while the admissions after 2018 will be awarded the Associate Degree.

The chairman made it clear that the Universities are allowed to gradually move from the current programme offerings to fulfilling new requirements. He explained that the universities and affiliated colleges may make step-by-step progress towards the goal. “By the end of 2020, we must be in a position to make the transition smoothly. HEC will be in close coordination with universities to identify and overcome all possible challenges for this transition,” he added. The Vice Chancellors expressed a number of concerns with regard to implementation of the decision, especially with regard to private students, distance education, capacity building of college teachers, curriculum, bridging courses and infrastructure. Dr Banuri assured the Vice Chancellors that all the details will be worked out over the next 12 months in consultation with Vice Chancellors as well as other higher education departments, technical boards, and faculty members.

The Chairman said that currently distance education programmes have been endorsed for only two universities. However, other universities have submitted proposals to restart distance education. He said HEC will work with the universities in order to build capacity of faculty and equipping them to meet requirements of the new system. “Funds are being mobilised to provide faculty with practical training opportunities,” he added.

 On the occasion, Dr Zulfiqar Gillani, Curriculum Expert in HEC said that consultative sessions were held across the country before issuance of the last notification regarding transition to the four-year and Associate Degree programmes. He said HEC is in process of developing guidelines and policies with respect to implementation of the decision.

“The two-year curriculum will be very closely aligned to four-year curriculum structure,” he assured. He said no change is being made in enrolment process, as students will be enrolled for Associate Degree programme.

The Vice Chancellors appreciated the efforts of HEC for looking into the education and skill requirements of youth. “Such interventions are very important in terms of upgradation of structure and response to the prevailing market needs.”