ISLAMABAD    -   Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri on Tuesday said cases of academic documents’ attestation have been pending due to the ‘workload.’

He said this while addressing a press conference held here. The chairman HEC said that an online attestation system was introduced to end the queue culture and applicants were able to get documents attested within a week.

Replying to a query about a large number of pending cases of attestation with HEC, he said that the number of applications for attestation with HEC has increased.

He said that the number of applications on a daily basis has increased from 200 to 350 daily and the attestation is being delayed due to ‘workload.’

Dr. Banuri also said that HEC has increased 10 per cent funds of the universities and research fund has been three times multiplied to enhance the research culture.

He further said that HEC has linked the research grants for scholars with their project proposals relevant with the country’s needs. Chairman HEC said that the Rs1 billion have been allocated for research which will be increased to Rs3 billion and Rs4 billion in upcoming years.

Informing about the issues of Tenure Track Faculty (TTS) which also held protests for approval of their demands, he said that TTS was introduced as part of a broader quality reform agenda aimed at enhancing performance and productivity and attracting capable and talented faculty.

He said the total number of TTS faculty members in Pakistan has increased from 95 in 2005-06 to 3198 in 2018-19.  So far, more than 105 public sector universities and degree awarding institutions have adopted this system for academic appointments. 

The HEC’s governing body has recently amended the Tenure Track Statutes, in order to reward faculty for superior performance, increase time frame to acquire tenure in line with international best practice, infuse data driven and transparent evaluation and management process, and above all, incentivise excellence by introducing 35% TTS Premium for TTS faculty.  These improvements are aligned with the recommendations of the TTS review committee, and aimed at resolving tenure, promotion and recruitment issues on a sustainable basis while ensuring credit for quality. 

Some individuals are trying to destroy the system by lowering its standards. They have demanded that the publication requirements for TTS faculty members should be reduced and that they should be allowed to do other jobs. This will ensure the demise of the TTS system. It will also be against the interest of students who deserve to be taught by the best professors. 

HEC has extended the maximum length of tenure to nine years for TTS faculty who are unable to complete eligibility requirements for promotion as Associate Professor within the already specified period of six years. Likewise, HEC has separately issued a notification to enable the TTS faculty to obtain valuable managerial experience by allowing the faculty to take up limited academic-cum-administrative responsibilities.   Similarly, faculty on BPS scales is also being facilitated through different programmes. Previously, HEC has upgraded their pay scales, and now a Professor enjoys perks and privilege of a Grade-21 officer.

 Another issue that is highlighted by vested interest is that people should get promoted without the appropriate post PhD experience. The focus of HEC efforts and policy reforms is to support quality, reward performance and incentivise excellence in order to enhance the quality of education and research.