Peshawar    -   While public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa face a number of financial and administrative issues, the establishment of a provincial Higher Education Commission (HEC) has become a buzzword in the academic circles. 

Chairman of the Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association, KP chapter, Dr Sartaj Alam, told this correspondent yesterday that the provincial Higher Education Department monitors all colleges and universities and it can’t solve the problems of the universities but that the province needed HEC as the Commission had been devolved to the provinces as per the 18th Amendment. 

“Punjab has HEC at provincial level, this is why affairs of its universities are better managed and they even are awarding scholarships to students for higher education. In KP, we also need an HEC at provincial level,” he added.

Elaborating further, he said that budgets of universities are passed by Syndicates and later approved by Senates of the universities. “A senate should be convened twice a year but here in our province, the Senates of universities have not been convened for the last several years, and as a result the universities are facing a number of issues,” he added. 

He also said that besides setting up HEC at provincial level, the appointment of vice-chancellors should be expedited as the absence of permanent VCs was causing problems in universities. 

“We have also refused to accept the recent amendment in the Universities Act, because the amendments would annul the criterion of PhD degree for a vice-chancellor’s appointment and also there are other issues in it,” he added.

Meanwhile, a senior official from the provincial bureaucracy said on condition of anonymity that there were more than 30 universities in KP and it is not possible for the KP governor, who is chancellor of all the universities and some colleges, to convene the Senate meetings of all universities, each twice a year. 

“Most of the problems in universities are due to delayed meetings of Senate and Syndicates of universities,” he added.

Special Secretary for Higher Education Ali Qadir did not respond to a call, nor did he reply to the text messages delivered on his WhatsApp number regarding the prevailing affairs in the universities. 

However, KP Chief Minister’s Advisor on Information and Higher Education Kamran Bangash told The Nation that the provincial government was working on solutions to the problems in universities. 

He said that Senate and Syndicate meetings in universities are important, but added that financial and other issues of universities can be resolved even without such meetings.

“Though HEC has also been devolved to provinces in the wake of the 18th Amendment, there has been no decision on establishing HEC at the provincial level yet. However, we are working on the Universities Act and held a meeting with the stakeholders recently. Hopefully, we will resolve the issues of the universities, while taking along other stakeholders,” he added.