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September 28, 2016

Campuses’ issue causing rift between authorities

Lahore

September 28, 2016

LAHORE

The issue of unapproved degree programmes and unauthorised sub-campuses of private universities/ institutes of the province is causing a rift between Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) and Higher Education Department (HED) as the task of publishing a “parent alert” about the unapproved degree programmes and unauthorised sub-campuses could not be performed despite the passage of over a week. 

In its letter to PHEC dated Sept 20 the HED had asked the provincial higher education commission to publish a “Parent Alert” in newspapers “clearly reflecting unapproved programmes and unauthorised campuses, sub-campuses and outposts of Private Sector Universities/Degree Awarding Institutes of Punjab for information of parents and students.”

On Sept 26, the HED sent a reminder to the PHEC observing that since the commission had been unable to publish the advertisement private sector universities/ degree awarding institutes were continuously publishing advertisements offering unapproved programmes at their campuses.

Sources in the HED said the PHEC had collected data of 24 private universities/ degree awarding institutes and sub-campuses (established under public-private partnership) and almost all of these had few or many programmes which were either unapproved or did not meet the conditions laid down in charters of these universities and institutes. They added 19 of these were operating in the provincial metropolis, Lahore alone.

The sources further said at many academic departments the required faculty was not available at many of the institutes while different programmes were unapproved or non-accredited. They added it was in this backdrop that the HED had asked the PHEC to publish the advertisements and expose those “playing with future of the students.”  

It is pertinent to mention here that the federal HEC has also been tightening noose on the private institutes across the country not following its guidelines and not seeking approval of programmes from respective professional councils such as PEC, NBEAC and NEAC etc.

Reportedly HEC’s Quality Assurance Agency recently compiled a report on universities and their sub-campuses across the country and unearthed that many institutes were bypassing their legal and official bodies for approval. As per the report out of the 177 universities/ degree awarding institute about 109 launched MPhil and PhD programmes without seeking prior permission from the federal HEC.

Sources in the PHEC said the commission could not straight away get the advertisement published as approval from statutory body was needed. They also said the PHEC had called meeting of the Commission (the governing body of PHEC) on Sept 29, adding the issue would be placed before the apex body and the PHEC would proceed accordingly.

The sources further said these unapproved programmes and unauthorised sub-campuses couldn’t be shut overnight as charters were awarded by the HED and all this was happening even before the establishment of PHEC.

A PHEC official, seeking anonymity, said the PHEC itself took up this serious issue and collected all the data. He added, however, approval from the statutory body was required. “Once the Commission decides (where Secretary HED is also a member) we will proceed accordingly”, the official added.

The News could not reach Secretary HED Nasim Nawaz despite repeated attempts on his official cell number.

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