islamabad - The outgoing chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) said on Friday that the solution of all problems of the country rests with strengthening of the higher education sector, which needs consistency in policies. Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said this in his farewell press conference held here.

Talking to media, the outgoing chairman who was also hopeful for his re-appointment for the next term said that HEC achieved a lot during his tenure however; there is always a room for improvement.

Dr Mukhtar said that HEC followed a zero tolerance policy regarding the quality of education which was acknowledged on an international level.

“International ranking agencies valued the impact of Pakistani universities research, while HEC achieved the status of offering scholarships to foreign students here,” he said.

He also said that in 2013, mistrust was developed and the institution’s survival was at stake, however, it was revived and gained its confidence back with the support of the government.

“Students on foreign scholarships had stopped returning to the country because of the uncertain situation four years ago, but now 280000 students are availing the scholarship of the federal HEC,” he said.  Dr. Mukhtar said that HEC introduced laptop provision and fee reimbursement schemes for thousands of students studying in the university on merit.

Replying to a query by The Nation he said that HEC has worked on strengthening the policies and specifically rules of quality in higher education which could be improved but not reversed in the future.

He said that HEC closed the victimization doors regarding accusations of plagiarism cases filed by candidates due to which the complaints ratio fell from hundreds to dozens annually.

Commenting on his candidacy for the next term, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that he is one of the candidates for the position and so is hopeful for selection.

As per the brief issued by HEC, the institution awarded 1518 overseas PhD scholarships in foreign countries out which 1246 returned. 2515 scholars were awarded indigenous PhD scholarships, 14621 merit and need based Scholarships and 24 Post Doctoral fellowships.  From 2013-17 Rs7.5 billion was reimbursed to 14969 5students of 114 less developed districts, 1000 scholarships were awarded  for undergraduate and 200 for post graduate studies.

Around 61 scholars were awarded foreign funded scholarships by different countries and donor agencies out of which 916 students on medical scholarships returned to Pakistan.

On the research side HEC approved 1552 National Research Program for Universities, 35 Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) and Business Incubation Centre (BIC).