LAHORE - Executive Director Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Sohail H Naqvi has stated that the HEC is playing a crucial role in bringing higher education within the easy access of local people by facilitating growth of institutions of higher education in major areas of Pakistan to accelerate socio-economic development of the country. He was addressing a joint meeting of all the deans, directors, chairmen, principals and professors of the Punjab University held at Centre for Undergraduate Studies New Campus, here on Tuesday. PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran, Registrar Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan, Prof Dr Javed Ahmad and Prof Dr Shahida Hasnain were also present. Dr Sohail Naqvi gave a comprehensive briefing on the major activities, accomplishments as well as emerging challenges and future plans formulated by HEC for promoting world-class quality in education and research pursuits in higher education institutions across the country. He said the HEC is confronted with the challenge of addressing needs of higher education of an underdeveloped country like Pakistan and added that since its inception, the Commission has made enviable strides in building advanced human capital as well as enhancing and funding domestic research pursuits to make a tangible impact on countrys socio-economic progress. He said standardization of PhD degree and faculty development programmes can justifiably claimed as major achievements of the Commission. These programmes have now culminated in the coming back of a large number of highly qualified Pakistani scholars from foreign universities and as such the public sector universities should benefit from their scholarship for optimal increase in research output. During the question-answer session which followed the briefing, the Executive Director gave an assurance that due recognition will be given to the research journals being brought out by the Oriental College, Department of English Language and Literature and College of Art & Design in ranking mechanism by the HEC in future. He said being the oldest and the largest seat of higher learning in the country, the Punjab University can play a leadership role in academic and research fields in addition to other related matters. He regretted that even after seven years of investment in higher education, our higher education enrolment is still smaller than Nepal. The existing total enrolment of 3,82,000 in all the higher education institutions of Pakistan is less than the higher education strength of the University of Cairo (Egypt) alone. As percentage of GDP, India is spending 1.00 percent on higher education compared to 0.23 percent being spent by Pakistan. It is surprising that while budgetary allocation to education sector is decreasing year after year, the political leadership is continuously talking about and vowing to increase the same. He also impressed upon the PU faculty to build a strong lobby amongst the elected representatives, an overwhelming majority of whom belong to their alma-mater, to increase larger funding for their university in the coming years. With regard to other problems highlighted by the faculty members, the Executive Director advised them that he was only an e-mail away from them as they can always approach him for resolution of various issues relating to the HEC simply by generating an e-mail to his address round the clock.