ISLAMABAD-The Higher Education Commission is mulling to re-launch the laptop scheme for students in educational institutions under Prime Minister Youth Programme, acting Executive Director HEC Lt Gen (R) Asghar told National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training on Wednesday.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mian Najeeb where issues of higher education, Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority and bill of ‘The University of Islamabad’ were discussed.

Briefing the committee, the acting ED HEC said that the laptop distribution scheme among students in the higher educational institutes was being reviewed by the HEC, but it will be started under the PMYP.

Earlier, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had announced closing the laptop distribution scheme launched by the previous government.

The HEC acting ED also said that Rs5 billion scholarship programme for the deserving students was also under process which would help the needy students to get higher education in universities.

He said that these scholarships would also be provided under the PMYP and Ehsas Programme to provide the needy students with opportunities of getting education on merit.

Meanwhile, Secretary Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training Arshad Mirza added that the government was also working to launch separate scholarship scheme like ‘Fulbright’ and ‘Chevening’ scholarship programmes.

He said that Rs5 billion would be generated for the purpose. He said that overall Rs10 billion would be spent on need-based scholarships in the country.

The acting ED Higher Education Commission while briefing the committee said that HEC had faced Rs5 billion cut in its allocations and it had no plan of establishing new universities in current financial constraints.

Responding to a query asked by the legislatures, he said that universities would face financial problems in future, and the HEC had also cut research grants of the universities.

“Universities will increase students’ fees to meet their expenses and students will be on roads for which everyone should be prepared,” he said.

He also said that the HEC in VC selection criteria was adding a condition for the applicants that he/she would be able for fund raising for the university.

The acting ED HEC also said that career counseling cells would also be established in the universities for facilitating the students.

The Secretary FE&PT Arshad Mirza said that the education sector faced lesser budget cut compared to other departments but still, he said, education was top priority of the government.

He said that the government following the global trends was strengthening skill development in the country which would enable the youth to get employment. “We are heading towards skill development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chairman PEIRA Imtiaz Quershi gave briefing on fees of private educational institutions but the Committee members were not satisfied with his briefing and expressed concern over non-functioning of the authority as fees were being charged from the students during summer vacations.

The Committee suggested that the Ministry should make external audit of PEIRA. The Committee asked the Ministry to provide governance and financing details of PEIRA to the Committee in its next meeting.

The Committee also sought Rules of Business of PEIRA.

The Committee advised the Ministry to increase the membership of PEIRA from two to 20 to streamline its governance.