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October 23, 2019

HEC to ensure implementation of anti-harassment policy in institutions

Islamabad

October 23, 2019

Islamabad : Higher Education Commission (HEC) is revising its anti-harassment policy to ensure effective implementation of the policy in higher education institutions (HIEs).

Under this initiative, detailed guidelines will be issued to the universities and implementation will be monitored by the HEC. Formation of an appellate mechanism is also under consideration so that if an applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the committee formed under the policy, they can apply at the appellate forum.

This was stated by Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri, while addressing a press conference on Tuesday. He said that creation of appellate forum and some other ideas came under discussion in vice chancellors meeting and final decision on the most appropriate mechanism will be taken after consultation. He said that the new policy would be issued in next two to three months.

He said that apart from their educational rights, the right of students’ safety and privacy also needs to be protected, and the misuse of technology available to universities under Smart University Programme must be impeded.

HEC chairman shared that higher education institutions are facing severe financial crisis after the recent budget cut. He demanded the government to restore funding. “We have always been ensured of complete cooperation by the Prime Minister but we need this cooperation in the financial form,” he said.

Tariq Banuri said that the government plans to provide scholarships for needy students under BISP, which will include fee and stipend. “Relief on the side of students is encouraging but we also require relief on the side of HEIs.” The media briefing was held in the backdrop of recent tragic incidents in various universities across the country, including the alleged breach of students’ privacy at the University of Balochistan, mysterious death of a student at Shaheed Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Larkana, alleged negligence that caused death of a student in Bahria University, Islamabad, death of a student of COMSATS University, Islamabad, and the students attack on Vice Chancellor Federal Urdu University, Karachi.

Dr. Banuri informed the media persons that in view of this situation, HEC is revising its anti-harassment policy to overcome loopholes and present viable solutions to harassment cases. He regretted that suicide incidents claim more lives than violence incidents in the country. The chairman emphasised on psychological counselling of students so as to prepare them to tackle mental stresses. He said the presence of medical officers as well as psychological counsellors on campuses is a must to ensure timely support to students facing medical or psychological challenges.

He stressed the need for training students on the conduct they need to adopt while using social media. He said verbal violence has gone on the rise on the social media and the students need to be trained on demonstrating civility.

Dr. Banuri condemned the recent incidents, stating that they must be taken seriously. He said the entire educational system needs to perform in the right way. “We must not shirk our responsibilities in this regard.” He emphasised on setting up a system which could help determine those responsible for such mishaps.

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