Another meeting of CCI subcommittee ends without conclusion

ISLAMABAD: Another meeting of the Sub-Committee of Council of Common Interest (CCI) on Friday ended without making any definite decision over devolution of powers of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in light of the 18th constitutional amendment, Daily Times has learnt reliably.

According to the available documents, it was the 9th meeting of the CCI’s sub-committee chaired by the Federal Education Minister Baligh Ur Rehman and attended by HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, S. Higher Education Commission (SHEC) Chairman Dr.Asim Hussain, Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Chairman Dr. Mohammad Nizamuddin, PHEC minster Syed Raza Ali Gilani and secretaries of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa higher education and ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC). In a written response to the committee over monitoring and evolutions of federal higher education in the country, Punjab said monitoring and evolutions of HEC should remain only in federal territories instead across the country.

“To the extent of setting standards of higher education in the country, the authority should be vested in the Federal HEC. However, the authority needs to be limited to the extent of creating standards whereas the functions of monitoring and evolutions of the institutions of higher education against these standards should vest with the provincial governments and provincial HEC. The act of federal HEC should be amended to reflect the federal HEC will recognize and attest the degrees issued by institutions that have been granted NOCs by provincial governments and provincial HECs in accordance with standards set by federal HEC”, Punjab government stated. In submission of its remarks, Punjab government also said that each province should have its own testing bodies for respective universities. It added that the accreditation of universities should also be remained in domain of provinces as stated in 18th amendment in constitution.

Sources privy to the meeting proceeding disclosed that federal HEC said that it should be only one member in the federal HEC’s Commission from each province while other one member would be selected by Prime Minster who is controlling authority of the HEC. However, provincial representatives objected this proposal and insisted for at least two direct members in the Commission from each province.

The federal HEC also suggested for changing the names of provincial HECs.

After 18th constitutional amendment in 2012, education subject was put under provincial domains. Under the amendment, the federal HEC was authorized only for devising rules and policies for all higher education sectors in the country and all other powers were shifted to provinces.

However, practically nothing had been done to comply the amendment. The confusion regarding this matter is still prevailed despite passage of over 5 years.

Currently, the matter is in the court of CCI’s sub-committee but sources said that the committee called 8 meetings while taken no concrete step over the matter despite the availability of clear law to address such issue. The sources further maintained that same above mentioned suggestions were submitted several times in the past by the provinces but no avail.

Earlier this, the Implementation Commission had also contended that the powers and functions of HEC should not be beyond the constitution. “Most of the powers are aimed at getting undue financial and administrative control over universities who were charted by the federation and provinces,” read the recommendations given by the Implementation Commission.

It further recommended that the main powers of HEC would include evaluation performance of universities and degree awarding institutes (DAIs), setting up of national and regional evolutional councils, setting up testing bodies or designating any existing body for the purpose, developing guide lines for evaluation of performance of faculty members and universities and DAIs.

Published in Daily Times, February 10th 2018.