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February 16, 2020

Private universities’ body accuses govt of hurdles to higher education

Lahore

February 16, 2020

LAHORE : The recently formed Association of Private Sector Universities in Punjab (APSUP) presenting its charter of demands to the government on Saturday expressed concerns over, what it termed, anti-education policies of the government.

Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, the APSUP office-bearers, including Imran Masood and Awais Rauf, while claiming that the government instead of recognising the efforts of private sector for the promotion of higher education was allegedly creating hurdles exposing that the government neither prioritised education nor it had education-friendly policies in place.

Presenting the charter of demands they said the government should make higher education its top priority and start one-window facility for private universities to make the processes efficient. They claimed that it took four to five years to get approval for opening new departments by private universities.

The APSUP also demanded the government give the right of choice to poor students and should fund their studies if they wanted to go for private universities observing that access to higher education rate in Pakistan was ever decreasing. The association also observed that the government could proceed against private universities only under the process mentioned in their respective charters/legislation and demanded the government avoid any illegal step in this regard.

The APSUP office-bearers also demanded the government consult and take into confidence private sector universities in order to introduce legislation for the private sector higher education institutions. They also demanded the government form special committees to review the state of higher education in public and private universities. They demanded the government form a coordination committee like Council of Common Interests, having representation of private sector to address controversial issues concerning the higher education sector.

Lahore Garrison University (LGU) Vice-Chancellor Major General (Retd) Obaid Bin Zakria was also present on the occasion.

It is pertinent to mention here that in January this year the Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab had declared 23 sub-campuses of seven private sector universities unauthorised directing the universities to immediately stop any further intake of students at these sub-campuses.

Later on, a four-member committee was also constituted to physically inspect these 23 sub-campuses of private universities in Punjab province and submit its evaluation report within 30 days. Recently the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also forwarded recommendations of its Prevention Committee on “Educational institutions offering courses without NOC of HEC and accreditation by the authorities/ bodies” to the Punjab government for further necessary action.

The committee had recommended that higher education institutions (HEIs) be subjected to performance audit annually and reports be made public besides taking stringent administrative as well as penal action upon reported violations. It had also suggested the HED Punjab and the provincial Higher Education Commission (PHEC) take action against educational institutions imparting illegal, unapproved and non-accredited study programmes and refer such cases to NAB for taking cognisance under the relevant laws.

Recently a special committee of the Punjab Assembly had also directed the HED Punjab and the PHEC to take comprehensive and effective measures to stall the functioning of all the illegal/unauthorised sub-campuses of all the provincially chartered universities/ institutions of the Punjab.