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January 16, 2015

Technology, social sciences, agriculture and livestock are priority research areas: PHEC chairman


January 16, 2015

Technology, social sciences, skill-based education, agriculture and livestock will be the priority research areas for the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC).
Talking to ‘The News’, Punjab HEC Chairman Professor Dr. Muhammad Nizamuddin said that Punjab HEC will facilitate the provincial higher education institutions. “All important stakeholder of the sector would be taken on board for evolving effective strategy in order to strengthen higher education in the province,” he said.
Talking about the challenges PHEC expect to face, he said, the key challenges would be increasing equitable access to higher education, international visibility of higher education sector of Punjab through inclusion in top ranked world and Asian universities, making higher education research relevant to the socio-economic needs of the province and the country.
“In order to further improve Punjab higher education institutions, we would have to fill the much needed gap in faculty and research, strengthen the college education through need based assessment, provide essential facilities at the campuses as well as newly established degree awarding institutions universities, bring quality in higher education in remote and far-flung areas including southern Punjab,” he added.
He stressed the need to make higher education an instrument of poverty alleviation and a vehicle of technologically driven economic development and global competitiveness through effective university industry linkages. “Ensuing safety and security of the faculty, students and staff of higher education institutions will also remain concern for us. Punjab government has already taken number of measures in this regard and is working on more options,” he said.
He gave credit of establishing Punjab HEC to Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. “I am quite hopeful that with the support of Punjab government as well as cooperation of all stakeholders, we will be

able to overcome these challenges.”
Being head of various HEC committees during last 10 years, including National Committee on Development of Social Sciences, he said that he has the experience working with HEC and we would learn from the best practices of various federal counties as well as HEC especially from those professionals who were part of parcel of various HEC initiatives.
“I look forward to cordial relationship with HEC, other provincial higher education set ups and departments and joint collaborative efforts for cause of higher education in Pakistan. We would complement one another’s efforts.”
He said that provincial higher education assessment system would be introduced as per international and national standards. “We would also like to address the specific needs and requirements of the Punjab. There would not be any comprise on merit and quality.”
In order to strengthen and meeting the growing needs of higher education sector in the province, the Punjab government promulgated Punjab Higher Education Commission Ordinance on October 2, 2014 to provide for the creation of Punjab Higher Education Commission.
The ordinance was presented at provincial assembly of the Punjab and handed over to the Education Standing Committee for further deliberations. The committee suggested certain amendments in the bill including inclusion of college education, important pillar of Tertiary Education under the preview of Punjab HEC and nomination of representative of colleges in PHEC board. The provincial assembly of the Punjab passed PHEC bill on December 29, 2014.
The newly formed Punjab HEC will be a supportive and facilitative body for strengthening higher education in the province commencing from grade 12.
According to the Act, the chairperson of PHEC shall be the chief executive officer of the commission who will be responsible for all administrative, financial and academic functions of the commission.
As per the prescribed 26 functions, the commission has been authorised to formulate guidelines under which public and private institutions may be opened & operated in the province, cause monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the institutions, undertake various faculty development programs and preparing plans for development of higher education sector and take measures including allocation of funds for award of fellowships, scholarships, travel and research grants etc. Dr. Nizamuddin said that soon a meeting of all vice chancellors would be held in Lahore.

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