ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has closed down as many as 110 PhD programmes in public and private sector universities over lack of quality. This was said by HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed on Wednesday during his address to a seminar titled “Higher Education in Pakistan: Status, Trends and Prospects” organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. The purpose of the seminar was to discuss the prevailing scenario, upcoming opportunities and challenges faced by higher education sector in Pakistan as well as the steps and strategies being taken up by HEC to cater the issues. A large number of senior academicians including vice chancellors, deans, head of departments and research supervisors were among the participants. The chairman said that the commission will not compromise on academic corruption despite all the pressures the national institution had to face from influential quarters. The current focus of HEC, he said, is to improve the quality of higher education and standard of academic research in the country and to ensure that the research being produced is beneficial for the nation and society. The race for rankings and impact factor is of no use if the real impact of knowledge creation is absent. Ahmed said that it took HEC seven years to acquire an international engineering membership with the combine efforts of the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC). Now the engineering graduates from Pakistan can get a job anywhere in the world without going through any additional exam for accreditation in other countries. “We are working on various partnerships and improving the overall standard of education in Pakistan rather than focusing on the numbers game. Numbers don’t mean anything if the students are not well equipped for the professional life,” said Ahmed. He, however, shared that the overall situation had improved in past few years with a record 12,000 publications coming out in the year 2016. “We have adopted a strict no tolerance policy on plagiarism and the research culture is finally prevalent in the country. We however still have to go a long way to compete with western standards,” he viewed. Ahmed also shed light on the performance of HEC stating that before its inception in 2002, there were a total of 59 universities in Pakistan which were majorly confined to the bigger cities. Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.