Islamabad: The Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project held its fifth Steering Committee meeting at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat. The committee members reviewed the progress made so far on the project.
Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri chaired the meeting, attended by the committee members from across the country, comprising senior officials from key federal ministries and provincial higher education departments, Vice Chancellors, and industrial representatives.
In his remarks in the meeting, the Chairman HEC said the project is focused on all critical areas of Higher Education in Pakistan. “The project is close to my heart as I was involved from initial planning discussions to finalization of its granular details.” Highlighting the challenges facing the higher education sector, he expressed a hope that that this project will bring about the much-needed change in the society and the system.
“Whenever you try something thing new there is a lot of resistance, but I am sure, together we will make it a success,” said Banuri. He requested the senior provincial government officials to extend their support for the project roll-out in their respective regions.
Project Coordinator Maryam Riaz shared an overview of the HEDP project, its progress, future plans, and recently approved PC-1. She briefed the committee on the key project initiatives, including the physical and financial progress of all the 11 project activities called as Performance-Based Conditions (PBCs). In addition, it was apprised of the launch of 123 national collaborative research grants, of which 48 grants worth PKR 1.59 billion have already been awarded.
She informed the committee that HEDP has developed Higher Education Data Repository (HEDR) system with piloting in 10 universities. It continues to receive data from more HEI in close coordination with HEC statistical division to expand upon it. Many of the awarded research grants under the project are addressing scientific as well as social issues of national interest. These include bringing innovative solutions in medical, industrial, agricultural, and economic arenas of country.
She highlighted the launch of Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) and Center of Excellence (CoE) grants (for the very first time in HEC), informing the committee members that the second round of Grand Challenge Fund (GCF), Local Challenge Fund (LCF)1, LCF2 and Technology Transfer Support Fund (TTSF) grants has also been launched.
It was underlined that HEDP is in the process of finalizing MOUs for establishment of Quality Enhancement Cells in affiliated colleges of 22 universities. In addition, seed money is given to 16 universities for establishment of Internships units, which is an integral part of new Undergraduate Education Policy (UEP).
Other salient features of the project highlighted in the meeting included the start of a cascade model of training faculty on UEP, capacity building through National Academy of Higher Education – NAHE (trained 990 PhD scholars of IPFP, two cohorts of women leadership program and several senior officials of HEC), procurement process for several national IT initiatives.
The panel was informed that the project aims to launch Pakistan’s first-ever national comprehensive blockchain system to attest and verify academic credentials of students. A national data repository of all higher education students of Pakistan is also in progress that will provide strategic insights to the decision-makers.
The committee appreciated the efforts of HEDP team and provided their suggestions. They explained the situation of higher education institutions, especially affiliated colleges, in their respective regions. They also suggested customizing project activities based on the regional needs and improve coordination between HEC and provincial departments.
HEDP is a five-year project (2019/20 – 2023/24) being implemented by HEC to expand upon its key higher education priorities.