Education is our top priority and the government is committed to improve the quality of college education at par with global standards. For this, we have introduced qualitative reforms in this sector.

This was said by the provincial minister for higher education Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz while presiding over a “Stakeholder Conference on Higher Education Reforms” today here at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. The conference was organized by the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC). Chairman PHEC Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Director Public Instruction (DPI) Colleges Jahangir Ahmad, vice-chancellors from as many as 26 public sector universities and principals from approximately 773 public sector colleges of Punjab attended the interactive conference aimed at garnering the constructive feedback on issues related to quality in higher education, effective management, coordination, and government policies on higher education.

Addressing the vice-chancellors and principals, the minister for higher education clarified the misconceptions being circulated the in social media or other public spheres, saying that colleges offering two-years degree programs across the province were being renamed as Community College, however, no structural or administrative changes being introduced, “No public sector college is being handed over to Board of Governors or getting privatized. Change in nomenclature will neither increase tuition fees nor will affect the placement of college teachers” the minister clarified. He added that the colleges would be affiliated with the universities which would be responsible only in academic matters, however, administratively colleges would still fall under the domain of HED.

The minister further said that public sector colleges offering 4-year degree programs will be renamed as graduate colleges whereas those offering two-year degrees as community colleges. He added at least two colleges- one boys and one girls- in each district will be classified as graduate colleges which will be affiliated with the relevant district or divisional university. Stressing on the need of the community colleges, Raja Yasser Humayun said that our curricula, in vogue in colleges, were lacking skills necessary for employability in the market, “the introduction of community colleges model will equip students with the market-driven skills along with theoretical knowledge which will widen the career prospects for the students” he added.

The minister maintained that reforms were aimed at bringing quality to college education which was an important stakeholder of the higher education system. He emphasized the need to improve the capacity of college teachers through training programs organized by the Punjab Higher Education Commission. To a question, the minister assured to empower the principals of public colleges by increasing the funds, providing human resources, and infrastructure in the colleges. He added that the government had introduced an automated, transparent and objective mechanism for the transfer/posting. He further said that the promotion policy of college faculty to grade 21 was also being formulated.

Addressing on this occasion Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Chairman PHEC, shared the vision, mission, and future road-map, saying that PHEC was aimed at facilitating and regulating the higher education to ensure standards, quality of education and building institutions to promote teaching excellence, research and innovation in Punjab.” We are committed to increase access and ensure quality in higher education, promote relevant research in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), promote faculty development programs, develop employability skills, ensure good governance and strengthen industry-academia linkages”, he stressed. “Our priorities align with the National Education Policy 2018, and HEC policy on access, quality, relevance, and equity”, he added

Chairman PHEC further said that the college sector had remained neglected in the past, unfortunately, “PHEC, with the cooperation of Higher Education Department (HED), Govt. of Punjab is now paying dedicated attention to this sector.  We are addressing their problems and the challenges to college education and ensuring that our college education are the hub of knowledge economy”, he added. “The very conference aims at taking the stakeholders on board and seek their suggestions to improve this sector” he added. He maintained that the future road-map of PHEC included various new initiatives including the establishment of new universities in the province, Punjab Academy of Higher Learning and Research, Punjab Research Fund, training programs, and local and foreign scholarships.

DPI colleges Lahore, on this occasion said that the HED was committed to complete the process of promotion of college teachers of grade 17 by March 2020.

Earlier, a separate discussion with vice-chancellors of the public sector universities were arranged at Syndicate Room of UET, Lahore, where minister for higher education Punjab and Chairman PHEC discussed, with vice chancellors, the various issues related to expansion and implementation of Community Colleges in Punjab, reviewing the prevailing affiliation structure, ranking, classification and automation of public sector colleges in Punjab.

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