Investment in Higher Education Government’s Top Priority: Dr. Hafeez Shaikh

Karachi: Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Finance Minister, has appreciated the performance of the higher education sector during the last decade, saying that investment in the higher education has resulted in the generation of employment, initiation of research relevant to socio-economic needs and meeting industry requirements.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of the 10th Vice Chancellors’ Committee Meeting, organized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), held in Islamabad on Monday. Vice Chancellors and Rectors of over 130 universities are participating in the two-day meeting.

Dr. Shaikh, who is one of the architects of HEC and has laid vision of knowledge for Pakistan’s development, said that role of higher education is very important for producing skilled workforce. He appreciated the HEC for bringing about a revolution in the education sector of a country, which has neglected education for a long period. “But I must add that the Government has also played its part in solving difficulties of the higher education sector,” he added.

The Minister stressed that the degrees awarded by our universities must be worthwhile in the job market. “Before a student takes admission in any programme, he must know the potential of that degree course. And our universities should also have a mechanism for measuring and rewarding excellence and there should be a difference between performers and non-performers.”

The Minister emphasized that the available infrastructure of the universities must be utilized to the fullest. He said that HEC should strengthen the existing campuses. He also underlined the significance of public-private partnerships, stressing that universities should seek ways of attracting investments. He also urged the HEC and the Vice Chancellors to engage the Provincial Governments for funding the higher education sector, ensuring at the same time that no other institution will get more priority than the higher education institutions. He also floated the idea of student loans.

Dr. Javaid R. Laghari, Chairperson HEC gave an overview of the higher education sector in Pakistan. He said that the modern university, with its mix of teaching, innovation and research, is different from the universities of the yesteryears that only served as teaching grounds. “By introducing innovation, creativity and interdisciplinary research as a vital component of teaching, and with knowledge exchange programmes, the university contributes more directly to the economy and society than any other institution,” he said.

Dr Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director, HEC expressed his resolve to take higher education to new heights. He said that the aim of this gathering of university heads is that “We will educate this nation”. Dr. Naqvi said that the higher education institutions are located all across Pakistan, in almost every community. “Now the higher education has taken root in Pakistan and our universities are transforming communities,” he added.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gillani, Chairperson, Vice Chancellors’ Committee and Vice Chancellor, KPK University of Engineering and Technology, Peshawar said that this Committee was a realistic forum for higher education policy formulation. He emphasized that the budget for higher education should be four per cent of the GDP.

Referring to the ever shrinking budget for higher education, he said that vice chancellors are the powerhouse and the think tank, which must come up with actionable solution to our problems. “We need to do this collectively as one institution. No doubt, public universities are doing a commendable job in difficult times. We should bolster people’s trust and define in these two days where we want to go,” he said.

Later in the day’s proceedings, Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, Vice Chancellor, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad spoke on “Knowledge Transfer – A Drive to technological and Economic Growth. Dr. Nasser Ali Khan, Member (Operations and Planning) HEC gave a presentation on “University Advancement – A Bridge between University and the Community for a Vibrant Partnership.”

Engr. Ahmed Farooq Bazai, Vice Chancellor, Baluchistan University of Information Technology and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Quetta spoke on “Role of Universities in Restoring Hope of Pakistani Youth and our Changing Mindset.” Dr. Najma Najam, Vice Chancellor, Karakuram International University, Gilgit spoke on “Gender Imbalance – A Reflection of Broader Societal Structural Inequality.”

For more information, contact:
Aayesha Ikram
Director (Media)
Higher Education Commission
Sector H-9, Islamabad
Tel: 90402404, 90402412

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