The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has planned to solve prevailing industrial and economic issues in the country through establishment of Technology Development Fund (TDF), Daily Times has learnt. The available information stated that the commission was in planning to strengthen academia-industry linkages in the country through TDF. “A joint tech, venture proposals are also invited from match-made academia and industry with the mission to solve a current industrial, economic, or technological problem having a socioeconomic impact, value creation, innovation and indigenization,” reads an announcement of the HEC. While considering higher educational institutions in the country as engines for socio-economic development of the country, the HEC has planned to finance proposals of completed interdisciplinary applied research for prototype development and industrial value addition for tech. “In this way, HEC envisages helping the productive minds of Pakistan to impact the economy through the development of new and emerging technologies,” reads a document, adding that the initiative enabled the research ecosystem lied with Universities to be available for the industry with financial and technical assistance through academic scientists for the solution of indigenous industrial problems. The document added that the program already funded 200 joint academia-industry projects and over 160 licensed to industry for mass scaling and commercialization. Under the program, it was aimed to cover the sectors included as Climate Change, Agriculture, Food Security, Urban Development, Pollution, Floods, Biodiversity Conservation and others. Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that to fill the gap of academia-industry linkage is direly needed in the country as, he claimed, it would be helpful in coping with ever increasing unemployment ratio. Moreover, Dr Ahmed also urged the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Universities to maintain the set quality standards of the HEC as he said “to maintain quality is among most important responsibilities of the HEC,” adding that due to this reason the commission banned on opening any new university in both public and private sectors in the country. “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 had also 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. 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.