After previously shutting down and blacklisting several post-graduate programs, the Higher Education Commission, HEC is now scrutinizing undergraduate programs throughout different institutions in Pakistan.
In a span of 4 years, around 524 PhD and MPhil programs have been reviewed by the teams designated by HEC to evaluate the quality of these programs in more than 84 public and private sector universities. While maintaining the blacklist, the regulatory commission has also signed approvals for about 278 programs because they met the requirements and quality regulations of the HEC.
With 162 programs shut-off permanently and 84 programs suspended temporarily, the HEC has reminded the institutions of the standards and rules. Regarding the 162 closed down programs, the visiting teams found that these programs did not have a PhD faculty available. HEC requires the availability of at least 2 teachers who work full-time for a PhD program.
84 programs were enforced with a temporary ban because an immoderate number of students was enrolling in these programs while the number of teachers available did not meet the specifications from the HEC. Accordingly, one PhD professor is limited to supervise only twelve masters students and five PhD students. An MPhil teacher on the other hand, is limited to only five MPhil or Masters students.
Reign of Gold Diggers
Many institutions focus more on money-making than actually maintaining quality of a program. Mukhtar Ahmad said,
With the devolution of powers it has become a tough task to ensure quality at campuses as varsities claim to have autonomy or their governance structure is dreadful.
Universities, with the cover of their respective provincial regulatory commission and political influence, are able to violate and ignore the regulations of the HEC.
About 150 institutes are currently operating without an NOC, and the HEC will now start surveying undergrad programs operating with no regulation or hinderance thus far. Many programs, which still need the verification of HEC to operate, are enrolling hundreds of students.
Starting from spring next year, the HEC will send out teams to inspect the quality of undergraduate programs but the commission calls it a difficult task due to the lack of willing workers and other factors such as external and political influence of institutions.
However, many agree that the HEC is suspiciously overlooking some groups and universities intentionally for strange and abnormal reasons.
Clearly, several programs in the Superior Group of Colleges, Newports Institute of Communications and Economics, University of South Asia and many more institutes have violated the HEC regulations, with no regulatory exercise against their illegal activity.
Regarding this, the HEC claims that these institutes have already been issued notifications to amend the inconsistency in their system and that the main goal of HEC is to ‘protect the future of students’.