ISLAMABAD - The vice chancellors of the public sector universities have jointly demanded the safe release of Dr Lutfullah Kakakhel, the kidnapped vice chancellor of the Kohat University of Sciences and Technology (KUST) who is missing for the last four months urging the Federal Government to take all possible measures to get him released immediately. Over 70 heads of the universities from all over the country gathered to attend the Vice Chancellors Committee Meeting organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) at Islamabad on Wednesday. Dr. Javaid R. Laghari, Chairman HEC and Sohail Naqvi, Executive Director of HEC presided over the meeting. At conclusion of the meeting the vice chancellors and HEC officials addressed a press conference. The vice chancellors and rectors of the public sector universities showed grave concern that even after four months the government has failed to get him released. The newly appointed vice chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University, Masoom Yaseen Zai, who was earlier, serving Balochistan University as VC said, It is very unfortunate that killing of university professors in Balochistan took place and many professors have left the area due to security concerns which have affected the higher education a lot in the province. The chairman HEC said it is feared that 40 per cent budget cuts would be imposed but the Prime Minister has assured that there will be no reduction in the government funding for the higher education sector. Replying to a question Dr. Naqvi said currently 3,700 scholars have been sent abroad under the scholarship programme of the commission and so far 350 scholars have returned to the country. Those who have refused to come have been served court notices and FIA and Interpol have been involved in the matter as public money has been spent on them. The vice chancellors also supported HECs decision to take strict action against those PhD scholars who have failed to return. They said that the scholars must return otherwise they will be held accountable for wastage of the public money. It was pointed out during the press conference that Shaheen Khan, Chairperson of Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) was earlier working at HEC and she was removed from the post on the corruption charges but now she has also been given the charge of Federal Directorate of Education (FDE). On this Dr, Naqvi responded that the inquiry report regarding the issue has been sent to the Prime Minister and the government has been informed in this regard. To a query of a journalist Brig (Retd) Aziz Ahmad, Rector, National University of Modern Languages (NUML) said three scholarships that were given to his family members were given after the approval of Board of Governors of the university. He said chairman BoG had formed a selection board, which recommended the scholarships, and there was no illegality in it. The VCs on the event also recommended names of three vice chancellors as vice chancellors representatives in the commission for approval by the Prime Minister. The Vice Chancellors Committee unanimously agreed to improve quality and give it top priority in order the meet the challenges faced by the higher education sector. It agreed that all PhD dissertations in subjects other than languages and Islamic Studies should be written in English. It also recommended that all PhD defence should be live telecast on the HEC video conferencing system. It was emphasised that no compromise will be made whether it is appointment of faculty members, selection of students, graduate, post-graduate, MS/PhD studies or evaluation of research.