The administrative crisis in the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) Karachi office has put students’ academic careers on the line.
The standard process for degree verification at any HEC office takes 5 to 7 working days, but Karachi’s regional office is taking as many as 25 days, and in some cases, even longer than a month.
The delay has left many students in an awful situation as they require their documents attested and verified for admissions in foreign universities and the deadlines are looming.
Reportedly, the removal of Karachi’s regional director from the post along with other senior officials is causing the lag. The officials were removed earlier this year when a sanitation worker at the commission attempted suicide for not getting the funds he was promised.
In their absence, the responsibility of degree verification for both private and government universities has fallen on the shoulders of a junior officer. The lack of experienced officials and a shortage of staff has slowed down the process significantly.
After receiving several complaints, the Commission has taken a remedial step, but it turned out to be more trouble for the students. HEC, instead of improving the existing system, is rolling out an urgent degree-verification system for higher fees, putting an extra burden on already suffering students.
When HEC started the verification process years ago, the threshold for degree-verification was 120 degrees per day. And now, after nearly a decade, the capacity has not changed. The process, however, has slowed in the last couple of months.
Among other issues, the understaffing at HEC’s Karachi office is also the main reason behind the delay. Currently, 36 people are working there, out of which only ten workers are associated with the degree-verification department.
For 52 private and public universities from Sindh, a staff of 10 people with no experience guiding them is a matter of concern for authorities.
The Acting Regional Director of HEC, Hakim Ali Talpur said the higher number of verification requests with limited staff is the main reason behind the procedural delays.
He, however, admitted that the department does not have an instant solution to the students’ woes and said that they were starting an urgent degree-verification system for additional fees which will help the students with immediate needs.