APSUP raises concerns over HEC Amendments Bill 2023
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APSUP raises concerns over HEC Amendments Bill 2023

APSUP on HEC Amendments

The Association of Private Sector Universities of Pakistan (APSUP) has penned a letter to the  Prime Minister of Pakistan, expressing deep concerns over the recently proposed amendments to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Ordinance 2002. APSUP, representing private-sector universities, highlights potential threats to the autonomy of higher education institutions and urges the Prime Minister to address these issues promptly.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Sharif, APSUP Chairman, Prof Dr Chaudhry Abdul Rehman, emphasized the need to safeguard the autonomy and independence of universities for the advancement of academic excellence, research, and innovation in Pakistan. The amendments, as currently formulated, raise several critical concerns that could have far-reaching consequences for the quality and growth of higher education.

One of the key concerns raised by APSUP is the potential undermining of the HEC’s autonomy. The insertion of a new clause in Section 2, defining the “Division concerned,” has raised questions regarding the institution’s independence and the possibility of external control and influence.

APSUP further highlights the potential ramifications of the amendments on the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The changes proposed in Section 4, designating the HEC as the sole standard-setting and regulatory authority, could centralize power within the HEC while marginalizing the role of Provincial HECs and Higher Education departments. This shift may limit the autonomy of universities across different provinces and hamper their ability to cater to regional needs and aspirations effectively.

Another critical concern is the potential for excessive regulation. While acknowledging the importance of quality assurance, APSUP emphasizes the need to strike a balance that prevents unwarranted interference in the autonomy of universities. It is essential to create an environment that encourages innovation, relevant curriculum development, and academic excellence while ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

APSUP also raised concerns about political influence on appointments within the HEC. The provision for the Prime Minister to appoint the Executive Director, as proposed in Section 11, raises questions about potential political influence on this crucial position. APSUP emphasizes the importance of merit-based selection and ensuring the independence of key leadership positions to maintain the credibility and integrity of the HEC.

The reduction in the number of non-ex officio members, particularly those representing higher education experts, is another matter of concern raised by APSUP. The association emphasizes the need for diverse perspectives and expertise within the decision-making body of the HEC to accurately represent the diverse landscape of higher education in Pakistan.

Chairman APSUP concludes the letter by requesting the Prime Minister’s attention to these concerns and urging prompt action to address the potential threats to the autonomy and independence of universities. The association also offered its expertise and willingness to engage in constructive dialogue to ensure that any amendments to the HEC Ordinance 2002 align with the principles of academic freedom and autonomy.

Related: APSUP demands Revision in Limit for Architecture Programs Admissions

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