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Federal, Provincial Govt and Higher Education Commission Pakistan

In Pakistan
June 05, 2024
Federal, Provincial Govt and Higher Education Commission Pakistan

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan was established on September 11, 2002, by the late Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf. Its vision was to transform Pakistan’s universities into world-class centers for higher learning, research, and development. The HEC aimed to achieve this through the enforcement of rigorous benchmark standards and the disbursement of recurring and developmental grants to all public universities across the country, irrespective of their federal or provincial charters.

The HEC’s jurisdiction covered the entire nation, as outlined in subsection (2) of Section (1) of Ordinance No. LIII of 2002. The Ordinance defined “Institutions” as any university or degree- awarding entity engaged in higher education or research and development. It also defined “Public Sector Institutions” as those established by the federal or provincial governments. Moreover, subsections (g) and (h) of Section 10 mandated the HEC to submit recurring and developmental budgets for public sector institutions to the federal government and to allocate
funds accordingly.

During its first decade, the HEC received substantial recurring and developmental grants from the federal government. However, even these funds were insufficient for public universities to cover 100% of their annual salary and pension bills, as initially promised. Following the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the gap between the HEC’s annual financial demands and the grants received widened, exacerbated by changing political landscapes. The last five years have been particularly challenging, with the annual recurring grant frozen at Rs. 65 billion, despite the increasing number of institutions nationwide, leading to severe financial distress.

The interim government’s tenure, especially after the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), dealt a fatal blow to the higher education sector. The federal government directed the HEC to distribute the 2023-24 federal grant primarily among federally chartered institutions. Although the HEC managed to allocate reduced grants to provincially chartered universities, the current directive is unequivocal: no more federal funding for higher education in the provinces. This decision threatens the availability of grants for competitive research projects, foreign travel, and developmental projects for provincial university faculty, significantly hindering research promotion in the country.

Through this decision, the federal government has effectively shirked its responsibility for funding higher education and research in the provinces, bypassing the HEC Ordinance without amending the law. The repercussions of this decision are likely to include widespread condemnation and resistance from employees of provincially chartered universities across all four provinces, manifesting as public outery, protests, boycotts, and legal challenges. The non- compliance with HEC policies and guidelines and the potential establishment of provincial HECs could further destabilize the situation. If provinces respond by raising fees, student protests could escalate into broader law and order issues.

The cessation of federal recurring grants to provincial universities will significantly weaken the HEC’s authority and control, undermining the acceptability of its policy guidelines and directives. Provinces, upon establishing their own commissions, may assume responsibilities such as recognizing higher education institutions, attesting degrees, setting up provincial accreditation councils, and other revenue-generating functions currently managed by the federal HEC.

In conclusion, with an extensive infrastructure and human resources costing over Rs. 1 billion. the HEC’s future appears grim. Rest in peace, HEC.

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DJ Kamal Mustafa
/ Published posts: 1063

DJ Kamal Mustafa is a Music Producer, DJ, Pakistani Filmmaker, News Editor of EMEA Trribune and Journalist.