Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Rana Tanveer Hussain on Thursday emphasized the paramount importance of fulfilling legal prerequisites and obtaining a `No Objection Certificate’ for the establishment of universities rather than putting the future of students at risk. Speaking at the National Assembly, the minister stressed the significance of obtaining official approval, specifically the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Higher Education Commission (HEC), prior to granting charter approval. He expressed concern over several universities operating without the necessary NOC, despite having charter approval. This incongruence has led to the issuance of degrees that lack the HEC’s attestation, rendering them essentially void. The minister underscored that degrees from such institutions hold no credibility and leave students, their families, and guardians in a state of distress even after completion of degree despite heavy financial investment. The minister acknowledged instances of student protests stemming from these irregularities and underscored that the absence of proper procedures within these degree-awarding universities was troubling. He clarified that while the National Assembly possesses authority to legislate the establishment of universities within the confines of Islamabad Capital Territory, it does not extend to granting approvals for universities in provinces. However, the Assembly can deliberate on legislation pertaining to institutions and new campuses affiliated with Islamabad-based universities. Rana Tanveer Hussain implored a stringent adherence to legal procedures, emphasizing their feasibility. Drawing attention to past practices, he highlighted instances where charter approvals were granted by provincial authorities without requisite HEC clearance, an approach he deemed untenable. He also pointed out that several universities had been granted charters by Punjab during the tenure of former Chief Minister Pervaiz Elhai without obtaining approval from HEC. The minister recounted his personal experience with an unauthorized university where notices were disseminated to raise awareness about its illicit operations. The minister also highlighted the stance taken by the Senate, declaring that university-related bills lacking HEC’s NOC would not secure passage. He championed the establishment of universities but stressed that their educational quality and operational standards, including infrastructure and faculty, should be meticulously ensured. Rana Tanveer Hussain substantiated his argument by citing an example of a prestigious London-based institution that was offered extensive land for a medical institution. However, the institution refrained from commencing operations before completion of infrastructure. While recognizing the National Assembly’s recent legislative achievements, the minister acknowledged the prominent focus on university-related bills, resulting in media scrutiny and criticism. He expressed his support for legitimate endeavors but firmly condemned any compromise on the future prospects of the youth. Meanwhile, senior parliamentarian Shahida Akhtar passionately appealed to the Minister for Finance and Revenue, urging him to extend the MPhil allowance to holders of MS degrees. Speaking on a point of order in the National Assembly, MNA Shahida Akhtar Ali belonging to MMAP, highlighted the current disparity wherein the Finance Ministry had sanctioned a monthly allowance of Rs. 2,500 for MPhil degree holders, yet this entitlement was regrettably denied to those possessing MS degrees. Despite both qualifications encompassing 18 years of education as per Higher Education Commission, this discrepancy remained unresolved. She emphasized that the term MPhil had evolved into the designation of MS, making this differentiation obsolete. Shahida Akhtar Ali expressed her concerns regarding the adverse impact of this discrepancy, as it not only treated MS degree holders unfairly but also discouraged the pursuit of higher education. She also advocated for the inclusion of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) in the list of beneficiaries under the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme.