Sunday, 3 April 2011


HEC and the 18th Amendment

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is an autonomous organization whose mission is “to facilitate institutions of higher learning to serve as an engine of socio-economic development of Pakistan”.
The HEC is not attached to the Ministry of Education. The Prime Minister is the Controlling Authority of the HEC.
The 18th Amendment through the 4th Schedule (Article 70(4) Federal Legislative Lists Part-I and Part-II) fully supports the current powers and functions of the HEC, and includes higher education and research as federal subjects.
HEC is a role model federal organization which empowers equal and full participation of all provinces and universities in higher education policy making for national development. In most federations around the world, higher education is a federal subject with provinces also having a say.
HEC through the Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF) 2011-2015 is creating the knowledge capital and technology required to enable Pakistan to join the ranks of the industrially advanced countries within the next decade.
For national integration and prosperity, it is essential that HEC must continue to perform its functions which it has successfully done so for the last 8 years.

  • 18th Amendment fully supports the current powers and functions of the HEC so it is essential that HEC is retained as Federal organization in the strategic interest of Pakistan.
  • The Provinces already have a strong and forceful voice in the Commission governing the HEC which consists of 18 members including a representative from each Province and two Federal Secretaries. The other experts nominated by the Prime Minister are also chosen to reflect a Provincial balance. The Provinces and universities are full participants and decision makers in the development and implementation of all plans and policies for promotion of HE in the country
  • The 18th Amendment contains the following specific provisions regarding the function of HEC as a Federal body
  • Fourth Schedule [Article 70(4)]: Federal Legislative List Part I
  • Item # 16: Federal agencies and institutes for the following purposes, that is to say, for research, for professional or technical training, or for the promotion of special studies.
  • Item # 17:  Education as respects Pakistani students in foreign countries and foreign students in Pakistan
  • Item # 32: International treaties, conventions and agreements and International arbitration
  • Item # 59: Matters incidental or ancillary to any matter enumerated in this Part.
  • Fourth Schedule [Article 70(4)]: Federal Legislative List Part II
  • Item 6: All regulatory authorities established under a Federal law
  • Item 7: National planning and national economic coordination including planning and coordination of scientific and technological research.
  • Item 11: Legal, medical and other professions
  • Item 12: Standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions.
  • Item 13: Inter-provincial matters and co-ordination
  • Item 17: Matters incidental or ancillary to any matter enumerated in this Part.
  • The HEC position paper on the 18th Amendment and its applicability to the HEC is given in Annexure A.

1.         The Higher Education Commission will cease to exist.
2.        A new Commission for standards of higher education would be created under the Cabinet Division. Existing HEC functions of equivalence, attestation, recognition of degrees, opening of new universities would be transferred to this new Commission.
3.        All HEC research functions would cease to exist. Ongoing 1,000 research projects on the most important issues of importance to Pakistan would STOP.
4.         The Foreign scholarship program providing scholarships to nearly 5,000 scholars in 28 countries would be MOVED to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination. There is even a suggestion to break up the scholarships and distribute existing scholars according to domicile!
5.       Graduating PhD students from all over the world would have no entity to coordinate return and placement in local universities. Currently HEC tracks each foreign scholar individually, and runs a program providing one-year employment in any university of their choice, along with a start-up research grant.
6.        Nearly 5,000 Indigenous Scholarship programs would be transferred to provinces in some manner yet to be determined. New desks in some ministries would perhaps be created to deal with financing and management of PhD scholarships
7.        The Pakistan Education and Research Network providing high speed inter-connectivity between universities and to the Internet would stop.
8.         The Digital Library Program would stop.
9.         More than 1,000 scholars per year would be deprived off the opportunity to travel abroad to present research papers.
10.       All programs for linking research activities among Pakistani universities would cease.
11.      All programs for improving pedagogical skills of teachers in universities would cease. Nearly 5,000 teachers have already benefitted from this program.
12.       Management of ALL universities in the Federal Area would be transferred to a new Division of ICT.
13.      Funding of higher education by the Federal Government by HEC would cease and all Provincial Universities would be funded through the existing NFC Award. Federal Universities would presumably be funded through the allocation to the new Division in ICT.
14.       US$ 300 Million World Bank Loan to Government of Pakistan would be withdrawn.
15.       USAID Plan for US$250 Million for supporting higher education sector would go back to the drawing board.

·         The Supreme Court in its landmark judgment had asked the Election Commission to get the degrees of the Parliamentarians verified by the HEC. The dissolution of the HEC and movement of its core function of degree recognition and maintenance of standards UNDER the Cabinet Division will jeopardize the verification process.
·         The new Commission working UNDER the Cabinet Division would also have the power to recognize new universities being formed all over the country that are substandard and do not meet the existing Cabinet Criteria for a university. Already, many such cases have been blocked by the HEC and not granted recognition since they do not have faculty, libraries, internet connectivity and are housed in few room structures. By granting recognition to such entities, the degrees of ALL Pakistani Universities will become suspect.
·         The HEC attests more than 200,000 educational documents each year. Every Pakistani going for work abroad MUST have their degrees attested by the HEC which is recognized by the entire world to be a fair and impartial body whose attestation is accepted at face value. The HEC is a Board Member of the Asia Pacific Quality Network and is a member of the Network of Quality Assurance Agencies of the World. This membership has to be earned and is NOT Transferrable. The World has faith in the degrees of Pakistani universities because of HEC. By creating a new Commission, ALL degrees issued by Pakistani Institutions will NOT be accepted at face value despite any stamp that any new Commission may issue. The world is carefully following the fake degree scandal of Pakistani Parliamentarians and can see what the dissolution of HEC entails.

·         Pakistan is strategically located at the cross roads of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia. It is at the mouth of oil rich Persian and Arabian Gulf, and lies close to two superpowers in the North, and an aspiring power in the East, with whom it has shared a tumultuous history for thousands of years.
·         It is a country blessed with natural resources. It needs to develop its natural and human resources, both of which it is endowed with abundance, and join the ranks of developed industrially advanced, prosperous nations within the next decade
·         Pakistan needs to develop critical technology for industrialization, economic growth, energy growth, to explore, map and mine natural resources, including Coal at Thar, Gold at Riko Deq, Copper at Saindaik, Gas at Qadirpur, and others yet to be explored. Pakistan needs technology for Information and Communication Technologies; to drive its own high tech manufacturing industry; for transportation and avionics; for weather predictions so disasters like floods and tsunami are forecast and for health, agriculture, natural and applied sciences among other.
·         Pakistan needs technology to continue to protect its national assets and defend its borders. Flanked by a hostile neighbor ten times its size, it has no choice but to be at least ten times smarter and efficient in the utilization of its resources. Even if it had the financial resources, it is a known fact that money cannot buy everything, especially where strategic interests are concerned.
·         Where is Pakistan today in terms of its Science and Technology (S & T) workforce, its research, its technology readiness, and transfer of technology to the industry? The total S&T workforce in Pakistan is around 130,000. Out of this, the total number of Researchers & Scientists is 53,000, but only 10% (about 5300) hold PhD degrees. 80% of these PhDs (about 4000) are in Higher Education Institutions governed by the HEC.  Of the total  53,000 Researchers & Scientists in Pakistan, 24% are in SS and Humanities; 24% in Natural Sciences; only 18% in Engineering; 16% in Medicine and 14% in Agriculture.
·        There are currently over 7500 HEC funded scholars pursuing their Ph.Ds in local and foreign universities. This will triple the number of Ph.D faculty at the universities within the next five years.
·       If we compare the worldwide densities of scientists & researchers, Pakistan has only 162 researchers and scientists / million population (which is among the lowest in the region), Turkey has 562, China 926, South Korea 4162 and USA 4651. Clearly, Pakistan needs a much larger science and technology workforce, and research in critical areas. We need to increase the number of scientific and research personnel by at least 4 times in the next 10 years if we are to become a regional leader.
·         The establishment of the HEC in 2002 has heralded a revolution in higher education in Pakistan, especially in the fields of Engineering, Science and Technology. The HEC has accomplished more in eight years since its establishment than was achieved in the first 55 years of Pakistan’s existence. It is essential that this growth should continue for the next decade at least if Pakistan is to become an industrially advanced country.
·         More PhDs have graduated from Pakistani universities in the past 9 years than in the first 55 years of Pakistan’s existence.

·         Two Pakistani Universities are now ranked among the TOP 300 Science and Technology Institutions of the World.
·         In 2002 Pakistan produced less than half the publications compared to Saudi Arabia. Today Pakistan produces 30% more publications than Saudi Arabia which invests 100 times more funds in higher education than Pakistan.
·         Pakistan has invested more than Rs. 97 Billion for the development of the universities since the formation of HEC; a twelvefold increase over the Rs. 7.5 Billion spent in the 1978-2002 period of the University Grants Commission.
·         Engineering, Information Technology, Basic Sciences and Agriculture have received the greatest investment by the HEC. Project worth more than Rs. 35 Billion have been approved for support of Engineering Universities, more than a 1,000 Foreign PhD scholarships have been awarded in Engineering along with more than 500 Indigenous PhD scholarships.
·         The Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN) is one of the most sophisticated computer networks in the world linking all universities through a 10GB backbone and 1GB connectivity to universities. It is now expanding to link colleges as well. Video-Conferencing Equipment is operational in 74 Institutions and expanding rapidly. The Digital Library provides access to 75% of the World’s literature (23,000 ejournals and 45,000 ebooks). Pakistan today is a regional leader in ICTs which other countries are following.
·         In terms of Technology Readiness, HEC has provided state of the art high-tech equipment (e.g. Accelerators, SEMs, Vapour Deposition Units, Powder Metallurgy Labs, etc.) to HEIs, and Equipment Sharing Programs Grants for Research, for Travel Conferences, for holding of Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, etc. Research partnerships are now in place between universities in Pakistan and with other leading universities of the world.
·         HEC is focusing on development of critical technologies indcluding Biotechnology and Genetics, Immunology, Robotics and Automation, Nanotechnologies, Superconductivity, Computer Vision, Photo-optics and Lasers, Electromagnetics and Microwaves and Nuclear Fusion for Energy, etc. which are important for the strategic growth of Pakistan.
·         Pak universities have produced more PhDs in the last 8 years (3280) since the establishment of HEC than in the first 55 years (3000). Today we produce 10 times more PhDs in Engineering and Technology than ever in the past (140 in last 8 years, versus 14 in first 55 years). The universities are now enabled to produce more PhDs in the next 3 years than in the last 8 years.
·         Research output has grown six-folds since 2002 (from 815 in 2002 to 5068 in 2010): 80% of these research publications are coming from HEIs. Output has more than doubled just in the last 3 years and is expected to double again in the next 3 years. 
·         Nearly 5,000 scholars from Pakistan have been facilitated to present their research work in leading conferences of the world.
·         Researchers from Pakistan have linkages with their counterparts in every leading university of the world in the US, UK, China, Germany, France, Australia, Korea, etc.
·         For Technology Transfer to Industry, HEC is working on Development of High-Tech Incubators. Those in the pipeline at the universities include at UA Faisalabad, UET Peshawar, UET Lahore, NED, and NUST.
·         Three new Centers of Excellence, in Energy, Food Security, and Water Resources, are under development in three leading universities assisted by USAID.
·         HEC has taken higher education to the masses through the establishment of world-class academic facilities in 2nd and 3rd tier cities in the heartland of Punjab, Sindh and KPK.
·         The biggest investment (By share) has been in the KPK Province with new universities being set up in Bannu, Kohat, Malakand, Swat, and Mardan. The Kohat University of Science and Technology today publishes more papers in the world’s leading journals, than many other universities in Pakistan.
·         In Balochistan, 4 new universities have been developed and made operational, as compared to the 2 that existed in 2002. Projects for an additional 2 have been approved for establishment in Loralai and Turbat. 57 PhD Scholars from the University of Balochistan are currently studying in AIT Bangkok due to the linkage established by HEC.
·         In Sindh, 3 new Universities and 4 Campuses in underdeveloped areas are in various stages of development.
·         The IT sector has seen a complete transformation in the education system with the standardization of the 4-year undergraduate program and the establishment of the Accreditation Council ensuring adherence to international standards. This forms the backbone of the IT export revolution occurring in Pakistan.
·         The entire Bachelor(4-year), Master and PhD (3-tier) has been revised to conform to world standards. According to NARIC, the UK agency for equating foreign education documents, “We are of the opinion that this previous system of education (Pre-HEC) was not only shorter than the current system in Pakistan, but it did not emphasise subject specialisation and independent research as much” A PhD from Univ. of Karachi granted in 2007 was therefore recognized equivalent to MPhil. However, with the new system of education, NARIC writes,” “Within the revised (Post-HEC) Pakistani higher education system….we recognise all research degrees (MPhil and PhD) to UK standard”
·         According to Science Watch, January 2011 issue,(a prestigious magazine published out of UK) research growth from Pakistan has ranked 1st in 2 areas: Microbiology; and Plant and Animal Sciences. But that is not enough: Major research in priority areas and in Engineering and Technology is required, which is slowly beginning to take over.
·         Already, according to QS World Universities Rankings 2010, 2 Universities: NUST (274), and UET (281) are now in top 300 Technology Universities of the World, while MUET is in top 400. We need to continue to focus on adding quality in research and education to our other universities as well.
·         HEC has International Credibility with the World Bank approving a US$100 Million Higher Education Support program in 2008. A new US$300 Million Tertiary Education Support Program has been approved on March 24th, 2011 contingent upon the HEC remaining as is.
·         USAID is finalizing a US$250 Million support to the HEC focusing on the establishment of Centers of Excellence in Water, Energy and Agriculture.

·         Pakistan’s scientists, engineers and technologists are its single biggest strategic asset. Till five years ago, these were concentrated in a few strategic organizations, however, the revolution in higher education brought about by HEC has ensured that every engineering and science and technology university has started to blossom into a center of research and innovation. With thousands of PhD students abroad at the world’s leading universities, the next few years will herald an unprecedented revolution in Science and Technology in Pakistan.
·         There already has been a ten-fold increase in PhD production in the Engineering fields. With 1,500 more PhDs in Engineering alone set to join the ranks in the next three year, an irreversible transformation in the Engineering Sector, will occur in Pakistan.
·         HEC has integrated Pakistan and broken the elitist myth of availability of talent only in big cities. Pakistani scholars from little villages and remote towns have taken the world by storm. This is especially true in our neighbouring country which is now trying to create an HEC-like organization, and has announced a five-fold increase in the higher education budget with tens of new IITs to be set up.
·         The next 5 year strategy of HEC calls for Universities Building Pakistan. It is important that this vision become a reality.
·         In conclusion, HEC is the Role Model Federal Organization which empowers equal and full participation of all universities and provinces to facilitate higher education for the socio-economic development of Pakistan.

18th Amendment & Higher Education

1.            The passage of the 18th Amendment, amended Part-I of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution include the following:
a.      Federal agencies and institutes for the following purposes, that is to say, for research, for professional or technical training, or for the promotion of special studies (Item No. 16).
b.      Education as respects Pakistani students in foreign countries and foreign students in Pakistan (Item No. 17).
c.       International treaties, conventions and agreements and International arbitration (Item No. 32).
The following key provisions are in Part II of the Federal Legislative List:
d.      All regulatory authorities established under a Federal law (Item 6).
e.      National planning and national economic coordination including planning and coordination of scientific and technological research (Item 7).
f.        Legal, medical and other professions (Item 11).
g.      Standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions (Item 12).
h.      Inter-provincial matters and co-ordination (Item 13).
Each one of the above provisions is directly applicable to the Higher Education Commission (HEC). 
2.            The further importance of Item 12 in Part II of the Federal Legislative List (Standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions) is that it is a brand new entry inserted by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. In other words, prior to the 18th Amendment, there was no express entry dealing with higher education. Instead, Item 38 of the Concurrent Legislative List only dealt generally with “Curriculum, syllabus, planning, policy, centres of excellence and standards of education.” The insertion of Item 12 into Part II of the Federal Legislative List thus marks a deliberate decision by the Constitutional Reform Committee on the 18th Amendment that while primary and education issues could be dealt with by the Provinces, the issues relating to higher education were such that they necessarily had to be dealt with at a higher level. Also, the inclusion of Item 16 in Part-I of the Federal Legislative List (Federal agencies and institutes for the following purposes, that is to say, for research, for professional or technical training, or for the promotion of special studies) emphases the need to retain Federal institutes for research and professional training at the Center. It may also be noted in this context, that even prior to the HEC Ordinance, issues relating to higher education were being dealt with by the University Grants Commission, a federal body created by a federal statute (the University Grants Commission Act, 1974). Higher education and research has therefore always been dealt with as a federal subject and it is for this reason that Item 12 (List II) and Item 16 (List I) were expressly added to the Federal Legislative List.
3.            HEC is a regulatory authority created by the Higher Education Commission Ordinance, 2002 (which is a Federal law). It is therefore covered by Item 6 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List.
4.            The ambit of HEC is defined by Section 10 of the HEC Ordinance, 2002. Sub-section 1 of Section 10 gives details of the various functions the HEC may perform “for the evaluation, improvement and promotion of higher education, research and development.” These enumerated powers and functions provide in considerable detail all the ways in which the HEC may encourage and promote “higher education, research and development.” In particular:
·         clause (c) of clause 10(1) requires the HEC to “prepare . . . plans for the development of higher education”
·         clause (k) directs the HEC to “support the development of linkages between Institutions and industry as well as national and international organizations that fund research and development with a view to enhancing research”
·         clause (l) requires the HEC to “promote the study of basic and applied sciences in every field of national and international importance in the Institutions”
·         clause (t) requires the HEC to “promote formal links between Institutions to make the most effective use of experience and specialized equipment and promote national and international linkages with respect to knowledge sharing, collaborative research, personnel exchange and cost sharing.”
In light of the foregoing, it is clear that the functions of HEC as defined under the HEC Ordinance clearly relate to activities squarely falling within the ambit of Item 7 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List.
5.            Item 11 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List deals with “Legal, medical and other professions.” Once again, the establishment of standards in relations to professions (other than those covered by specific separate legislation) falls within the ambit of the HEC. Clause (e) of Section 10(1) of the HEC Ordinance thus requires the HEC to “set up national or regional evaluation councils . . . to carry out accreditation of Institutions.” Similarly, clause (v) provides that the HEC shall “guide Institutions in designing curricula that provides a proper content of basic sciences, social sciences, humanities, engineering and technology in the curricula of each level.” The Higher Education Commission is thus  responsible for standards of higher education and research in the Universities in all disciplines including the professional disciplines of Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Information Technology, Architecture, etc. The HEC is in fact the regulatory body for higher education in the country since it prescribes conditions under which universities are opened and operated and also has ultimate authority for recognition of degrees, diplomas, certificates etc. issued by the Universities. Thus, the activities of HEC as per the HEC Ordinance also relate to Item 11 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List.
6.            The most emphatic provision regarding the essential federal nature of HEC’s activities is, however, Item 12 of Part II which covers “Standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions.” As can be gathered from even a brief view of the functions and powers of HEC as encapsulated in Section 10 of the HEC Ordinance, the determination of standards in higher education is the very core of the responsibilities of the HEC. The mandate of the HEC is thus directly and specifically covered by Item 12 of part II of the Federal Legislative List.
7.            Item 13 of Part II of the Federal Legislative List deals with “Inter-provincial matters and co-ordination.” In this context, it is evident that regulation of higher education necessarily requires inter-provincial co-ordination. The subject of higher education has close, deep and multidimensional links to i) National Policy and Planning, ii) Economic Growth, iii) Scientific & Technical Research, iv) Defense Production, v) Industrial Growth and the vi) National Innovation System. Higher Education is not a subject that is confined to national boundaries since it is imperative to have international recognition of degrees for which adherence to International Quality Assurance Benchmarks is a necessity.
8.            Item 17 of Part I of the Federal Legislative List deals with “Education as respects Pakistani students in foreign countries and foreign students in Pakistan.” In this regard, Section 10(1) of the HEC Ordinance expressly authorizes the HEC in a number of different ways. For example, clause (r) of Section 10(1) provides that the HEC shall “take measures, including the allocation of funds, for the establishment of fellowships, scholarships, visiting professorships programmes or any other programme . . .  and facilitate greater mobility of faculty through national and international contacts.”  It is furtherance of this provision that more than 4,000 Pakistani students are currently receiving PhD scholarships in leading universities abroad.
9.            Higher Education is a precious and rare commodity and it is crucial that all resources, expertise and assets be shared among the higher education institutions as well as with Industry across the country. There exists an essential requirement for Inter-provincial coordination for provision of services that can optimally and cost-effectively be provided at the central level. These facilities are being provided by HEC through programs such as i) National Research Program for Universities in-line with the national research agenda, ii) National Program for Provision of Digital Resources such as the research network, digital library, research repository, video conferencing, etc., iii) National Scholarship Linkage Program with advanced foreign countries for faculty development, iv) Learning Innovation Program for faculty pedagogical training, v) National Curriculum Development Program for standardized curriculum and academic system development, vi) National Quality Enhancement Program for ensuring stringent adherence to local and foreign quality standards which are pre-requisites for degree recognition, vii) National Research Linkage Program for linking university research to industry.
10.        It is in recognition of the good work being done by HEC that the universities themselves support a strong federal role for the HEC. In particular, all the Vice Chancellors of public sector universities located in all the provinces of the country in a meeting held on November 27, 2010, unanimously resolved that HEC functionality should not be changed and the status quo should be maintained.
11.        In yet another meeting of all Vice-Chancellors held on March 26, 2011, it was resolved that “the HEC must continue to perform all its function in the same manner as it has been doing to date”.

12.        It may finally be noted that the establishment of the HEC has not only revolutionized higher education in Pakistan and has been recognized internationally for the transformation it has produced in Pakistani universities. In fact, India has explicitly modeled its future higher education strategy, with a five-fold increase in funding for higher education, on the strategy developed by HEC. India, which still has a UGC,  is also working on establishing an organization similar to the HEC. It would be ironic indeed if the role of HEC was to be completely negated at a time when it is being accepted international as a role model and pioneer.
13.        In most Federations around the world, higher education is a federal subject with provinces also having a say. UK has a Minister of Universities and Science. Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, South Korea, UAE etc. all have Ministers of Higher Education. Education is a Federal Subject in China as well.
14.        HEC’s achievement are many. In the last 8 years, it has established 90 additional campuses/new universities, including those in far-flung places such as Lasbela, Uthal, D.G. Khan, Malakand, etc. Campus enrollment has tripled from 222,000 to 529,000. 10,000 HEC Scholarships have been provided to needy students. A student loan program is currently under development.
15.        Today researchers from the Kohat University of Science and Technology publishes more papers in the world’s leading research journals than many local universities established decades ago, the University of Gujrat boast the best Industrial Design department in Pakistan, The Karakoram International University, Gilgit hosts the Rector of the University of Bonn Germany to study climate change, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur works with Egyptian biotechnologists for propagation of date palms while researchers at the Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences is pioneering shrimp farming on the Balochistan Coast. These are some glimpses into the accomplishments of the universities that have been established during the past eight years only, while those that existed before have gone on to join the ranks of the premier science and technology universities of the world, such as the National University of Science and Technology, ranked number 274 in the World in 2010, while the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore is ranked 281 by QS World University Rankings. From the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia to Cambridge University in the UK, just about every leading university in the world has close academic and research linkages with top Pakistani universities.
16.        The Government of Pakistan’s investment in the higher education sector is paying off now, and with the theme of Universities Building Pakistan envisioned in the HEC Medium Term Development Framework for Pakistan 2011-15, Institutions of higher learning all across Pakistan will play a leadership and transformation role for the socio-economic development of the country over the next decade. A strong and vibrant HEC is necessary for the continued progress of higher education in Pakistan.

1 comment:

  1. The HEC is the only link for every Pakistani student to the world class education. Would the GOP de-track the ongoing educational evolution?