The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has recommended not opening any new university in both public and private sectors in the country in order to maintain quality of education in the higher education sector. This was said by Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed in an exclusive interview with Daily Times. He said that to maintain and enhance the quality of education is the first priority of the Commission as it is responsible for this job under the HEC act. “As soon as I took charge, I asked all provinces to not allow commencement of any campus or university at Tehsil level,” he said adding that now we are in favor to stop it as whole as, he recalled, instead of opening new university or campus to achieve quality standards in existing universities firs is more important. The HEC also planned to take stern legal action against all higher studies institutions which are not following the prescribed quality standards. Moreover, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training also favored a similar move. In a letter Federal Education Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain asked Dr Ahmed to make sure policy matters to not even process any new No Objection Certificate (NOC) in this regard. “The HEC may not process any such NOCs in order to focus on quality improvement in current Higher Education Institutions and (HEIs) universities. “In order to ensure effective Human development by following the quality standards envisaged by HEC, I call upon you take strict action against all HEIs/ Universities which have been established without obtaining valid NOC form the HEC and to make public announcement through electronic and print media that all such universities or HEIs are unrecognized by the Commission,” reads the letter available with this scribe. It recalled that the Council of Common Interests (CCI), in its 44th meeting held last year, decided that the HEC will also be the sole standard setting national organization with regard to higher education in the country. The said decision further empowers the HEC to set, ensure and monitor the quality parameters for its intuitions across the country which can only be established seeking valid permission of the HEC. It further added that relevant clauses of the HEC ordinance 2002 speaks loud and clear about the jurisdiction and empowers HEC which puts binding on all setups in the country to obtain NOC from the commission before any such process for establishment of HEIs/ Universities is initiated. Hence, the Minister recommended, the HEC should exercise said legal powers in public interest, adding that the country has 70 percent of its population consisting of youth which can contribute to the economic welfare of the country and if provided adequate opportunity of learning skills and quality higher education while, he suggested, all this possible by having clear strategy of raising the standards and quality of our existing HEIs/Universities instead of allowing new setups to establish both at federal and provincial level. Dr Ahmed maintained that any kind of move never meant to target any institution or individual but to sustain set criteria, adding that in the last few weeks he urged in each meeting attended by stakeholders to keep quality on best priority. The Chairman also highlighted that all possible deficiencies within HEC are also under consideration to be rectified. As per available details, currently there are around 500 public and private sector universities in the country.