Arsalan Haider

The Punjab Government and private universities have agreed on resolving the outstanding issue of irregular sub-campuses following an intervention by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar on Thursday.

The government has agreed to look into accreditation of illegal sub-campuses of various private sector universities and announced a committee to oversee the matter.

In a press conference at the DGPR on Thursday, Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfaraz revealed that the committee would be made up of four members from the private sector and four members from the Punjab Higher Education Department and Punjab Higher Education Commission.

Raja Yasir said the government was in favor of private universities, as it could not address the challenge of providing quality education to the youth of the country on its own. But the government would not compromise on quality of education in either public or private sector universities of the province, he added.

The minister said private universities were facing problems regarding laws and regulations for taking approval of their programs and sub-campuses, adding that the newly-constituted reforms committee would play an important role in solving the long standing issues.

The minister categorically stated that the government was not making laws to punish the management of private sector universities and their VCs and that private universities would be dealt with in accordance with their charters approved by the provincial assembly.

Association of Private Universities of Punjab President Chaudhry Abdul Rehman, University of South Asia Vice Chancellor Mian Imran Masood, University of Lahore Rector Awais Raoof, and Punjab HED Secretary Sajid Zafar Dall were also present at the presser.

Chaudhry Abdul Rehman said private universities were not asking for undue favors from the government and the only demand they had was that there should be no unnecessary interference from the Higher Education Department and the Punjab Higher Education Commission. He said that universities should be allowed to work freely according to their charters.

Private universities have been piling up pressure on the government since January this year after the Higher Education Department (HED) declared 23 sub-campuses of seven private sector universities in violation of set laws. It had directed universities to immediately halt further intake of students at these sub-campuses.

Recently, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had forwarded recommendations of NAB’s Prevention Committee on “Educational institutions offering courses with NOC of HEC and accreditation by the authorities/ bodies” to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for further action.

Private universities recently set up the Association of Private Universities of Punjab to jointly respond to the actions of HED and PHEC.

Earlier, an HED spokesman had stated that the government had not stopped any private university from halting operations altogether. Only sub-campuses operating in violation of law had been restrained from enrolling more students.

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