Lahore: The University of Home Economics Lahore (UHE) Lahore in collaboration with BARGAD organization for youth development, held the 2nd Vice-Chancellors conference on ‘The Challenges of Academic Governance, Achieving Excellence and Equity in Higher Education’ here on Thursday. This conference was attended by former Minister for Higher Education Punjab, Mr. Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, Chairperson of Punjab Higher Education Commission, Vice-Chancellors, and representatives of seventeen public sector universities along with experts and representatives from marginalized communities including minorities. While speaking during his opening remarks Mr. Rana Mashhood said that the government’s special quotas have resulted in the inclusion of minority youth in the mainstream of higher education. He urged that we also need ethical strength to support our marginalized groups and the PEEF scholarships program was initiated to help marginalized communities. He announced the government’s plan to hold an international education conference, international sports gala, national hunt program, regular briefings with vice-chancellors, and promotion of technical education. He also urged the vice-chancellors to ensure the implementation of the HEC Harassment Policy. While addressing the conference Prof. Dr. Kanwal Ameen Vice-Chancellor, University of Home Economics, Lahore emphasized the social and cultural acceptance of equality of students from marginalized communities on campuses. She also stressed the importance of academic governance to achieve excellence and quality for the improvement of academics, as per 21st-century challenges. She further said that there is a need to ensure widespread awareness of available quotas for minorities, and to review academic policy to address issues of equity. Experts should introduce a minority-friendly curriculum in the country that protects the beliefs of all the citizens, she added. Prof. Dr. Shahid Munir, Chairperson of PHEC said that statutory bodies of the universities must be functional in order to improve academic governance. He announced the PHEC Expo, to showcase the research & development-based products of the universities. He announced that the commission will hold monthly roundtable conferences with the VCs to solve issues of governance and academic excellence. PHEC would ensure quota compliance and inclusion of marginalized communities, he added. Three students admitted on minority quota also spoke in the conference and youth volunteers launched trend on social media. Ms. Sabiha Shaheen, Executive Director Bargad stressed the need for inclusive development in higher education. This is also aligned with Pakistan’s commitments made under the sustainable development goals 4, 5, 10 & 16 which aim at quality education; gender equality; reduced inequality, and peace, justice & strong institutions. Vice Chancellors Prof. Dr. Zakria Zakar, Dr. Bushra Mirza, Dr. Saima Hamid, Dr. Rukhsana Kausar , Dr. Robina Farooq, Prof. Dr. Saiqa Imtiaz Asif, Prof. Dr. Talat Naseer Pasha (S.I.), Prof. Dr. Muhammad Afzal, Dr Abdul Sattar Shakir, Pro-VC Prof Maroof Aziz Khan, and university representatives Dr. Robeena Zakir and Dr Naveed Iqbal also addressed the conference and participated in a round table discussion. The vice-chancellors made a commitment to further promote awareness about 2% minority quota and urged for the inclusion of professionals in the university syndicates, removing bureaucratic hurdles, promoting academic freedom and teacher-student ties, digitization and use of and transparency, community engagement, and sharing resources among universities.