ISLAMABAD - The vice chancellors of public universities strongly opposing the devolution of Higher Education Commission have vowed to write to the President and Prime Minister to apprise them of their serious concerns over the HEC devolution. The vice chancellors from all over the country met at HEC to discuss the devolution of the commission and subsequently they addressed a press conference. In Vice Chancellors Committee meeting they passed a resolution expressing concerns over the future of higher education in Pakistan. They said it would be immensely unwise to throw the baby out with the bath water. They strongly urged the Prime Minister to allow HEC to continue its function as a central coordinating body. They opined that higher education was vital to the development of the country, and the existence of HEC as an autonomous, well-funded expert body was fundamental to continued development and growth of the entire higher education sector. They were of the view that HEC was a central body that not only maintained uniform academic standards, but also ensured compatibility of higher education as an engine of change that conformed to the national development agenda. Such a central body for higher education exists in almost all the developed and developing countries, they added. Replying to a question Vice Chancellor of University of Gujraat, Dr Nizamuddin, said that VCs were not against the 18th Amendment but the HEC was not a subsidiary organisation of the Education Ministry and it was not included in the list of the institutes and ministries which were to be devolved. He said neither they would close down the universities nor would ask the students to protest the decision, instead they would apprise the President and Prime Minister of their concerns but they could not stop the students from taking out protest demonstration as well. Vice Chancellor of University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, Syed Imtiaz Gillani, said that HEC had played a crucial role in providing leadership, vision and credibility to the entire higher education sector. The HEC provides a national voice and recognition to higher education and the success of this sector determines the future of Pakistan as a prosperous, just and industrialised nation, he added. Mujahid Kamaran, Vice Chancellor of Punjab University, said that HEC was the successor to the central coordination and funding council that Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto envisioned and formed in 1974. The HEC was formed after widespread nationwide yearlong consultations, and in fact, Pakistan was one of the pioneer countries of the world that recognised the crucial role played by higher education for national development. The formation of HEC was a key step that provided strong central leadership and visibility to the higher education sector that was the backbone of a knowledge-based economy. The HEC has placed quality assurance at the centre of the higher education transformation process. Consequently Pakistani degrees today are recognised equal to their international counterparts. Pakistani higher education graduates are sought by the worlds best universities, they said. The universities are the premier research institutions in Pakistan, and with the support of the HEC through various programmes such as the research grant programme, conference support, digital library programme, indigenous Ph.D. scholarships, travel grants etc., have been able to place Pakistan firmly on the research and innovation map of the world. They said that HEC had actively worked to support the growth of universities in the underserved areas of Pakistan such as Uthal, Malakand, Gilgit, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sukkur. Connected via a state-of-the-art high-speed computer network with video-conferencing systems, every University is now connected with one another and the world. And this has allowed the VCs to help each other with faculty and experts and has resulted in a well-knit and united higher education community of Pakistan. It is extremely important that this work continues and expands, they added.