ISLAMABAD-The Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science & Technology has demanded more autonomy for the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to strengthen its role to boost the higher education in the country. The committee met at the Parliament House on Thursday under the Chairpersonship of Senator Mrs. Razina Alam Khan. The members of the committee opposed the idea of the absorption of the commission in the Ministry of Education and asked the government to maintain its autonomous position. The Committee praised the services of former HEC chairman, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, and lauded his contributions towards promotion of higher education. Majority of members held the view that it would be in the best interests of the higher education of the country that Dr. Atta should continue as Chairman, HEC. The committee was given a detailed briefing on the Human Resource Development Plan of the HEC. It was observed that educated and skilled manpower plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic uplift of a nation and there was a dire need to concentrate on the development of human resource so that solid foundation could be laid for the progress of the country. The committee termed the recent advances made in the field of research and development as a significant achievement. The committee underscored the need for timely release of the allocated funds to the HEC and called upon the government to avoid cuts in the allocations made for Higher Education Commission as this would hamper the progress of the ongoing projects and would endanger the future of many students. Earlier, Prof. Dr. Sohail H. Naqvi, Executive Director of the HEC, informed the committee about the Human Resource Development Programme of the HEC. He said that long term and short-term strategies have been devised to develop human resource capital for the country. Focus was laid on the scholarships and the faculty development along with hiring the foreign faculty members and re-employment of eminent professors and researches, he added. He disclosed that enrolments in universities have increased and currently 360,000 students are enrolled in different universities of the country. The meeting was attended by senators Mrs. Tahira Latif, Dr. Abdul Khaliq Pirzada, Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Syed Javed Ali Shah, Dr. Muhammad Said, Liaqat Ali Bangulzai, Sajid Mir and Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan besides the senior officials of the HEC.