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November 27, 2020

HEC announces guidance for academic institutions

Islamabad

November 27, 2020

Islamabad : The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced a new policy guidance for the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), following the government’s decision regarding continuation of education during the 2nd wave of COVID-19.

As per the government directions, all academic institutions shall be closed from November 26 until December 24, 2020.

However, they shall continue to deliver education through online or hybrid means or through assigning homework (especially if there are problems of connectivity). The winter holidays shall be scheduled from December 25, 2020 to January 10, 2021, and all academic institutions shall remain closed during this period. Academic institutions are scheduled to open on January 11, 2021.

However, a review meeting will be held during the first week of January 2021 to assess the situation, and authorise opening of academic institutions. In the light of the government directions, the Vice Chancellors have been authorised to allow small groups of ‘essential’ individuals on campus, subject to implementation of scrutiny mechanisms or safeguards. Only certain categories of students may be allowed on campus. These categories may comprise low income students who may have connectivity problems at home because of lack of access to the Internet or the availability of proper devices, foreign students, those PhD or MPhil students (or final year students) who need to use the laboratories to complete their thesis work, or third year or higher medical students who need to obtain clinical training.

The total number of the students permitted to come to campus should not exceed 30 per cent of the total enrollment, or a lower number if dictated by the campus conditions. Similarly, the Vice Chancellors may require the faculty members to come to campus for delivering or preparing their online lectures. All the large examinations planned for December 2020 have been postponed, with exception of assessment examinations, such as MDCAT, other entrance exams, recruitment exams, or pre-scheduled small examinations (e.g., less than 30 students).

These may be conducted, if absolutely necessary, with strict observance of all health and safety protocols. As for hostels, the new Policy Guidance says that the Vice Chancellors have the authority to allow limited occupancy of hostels, subject to the instructed restrictions. Only the students in the “essential” categories will be allowed. The total number of students shall not exceed 30 per cent of the design capacity of the hotels (or a small number if so dictated by health considerations).