The Vice-Chancellors (VCs) and Rectors of all the public and private sector universities have shown serious concerns about the proposed amendments in the HEC Ordinance as well as the Public Account and Payment Procedure, 2022.

Two separate meetings of the university heads of public and private sectors were held at HEC Islamabad on Monday. Vice-chancellors from twin cities physically joined the meetings while those from other parts of the country virtually attended the meetings.

Both the forums unanimously opposed the proposed amendments and demanded that the Government should strengthen the autonomous status of Higher Education Commission (HEC) if it wants the higher education sector to develop as per international standards.

The Vice-Chancellors noted that the amendments in HEC Ordinance like delegation of powers of the Controlling Authority from the PM to the Ministry concerned, drastic revision in composition and reduction in size of the Commission eliminating representation of the provinces, authority of the Commission, etc will compromise the basic mission for which HEC was founded.

The university heads also observed that the Public Account and Payment Procedure, 2022 will complicate the withdrawal and payment procedure for the universities when they are already facing a financial crisis and are compelled to shelve various development projects as it requires them to operate through an Asaan Assignment Account in the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). The deposit of self-generated revenue at the SBP would further reduce the financial control of universities over their own funds and will bring university operations into a standstill

The participants emphasized that HEC and universities have worked hard for the progress of Pakistan’s education sector and all these steps will prove detrimental to the progress that the higher education sector has made during the last two decades.

The participants agreed to ensure strong financial governance in the public sector universities and strict observance of the austerity measures prescribed by the Government, and limit expenses to essentials only and hold those that can be delayed.

The Vice-Chancellors of the public sector universities elected Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice-Chancellor, University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) as new Chair of the VCs Committee for a term of two years.

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Arsalan Haider is a reporter at Academia Mag and has worked with leading national dailies and news channels. He tweets @arsalanhaider14

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