ISLAMABAD - The Federal government on Monday appointed Prof Dr Tariq Banuri as new chairman of the Higher Education Commission.

Dr Banuri, an economist with eminent national and international distinctions, has been picked as the 4th permanent Chairman of the HEC.

The new HEC Chairman vowed to work for the improvement of quality standards in the higher education.

The government just two days prior to the end of its five-year term, appointed Dr Banuri as new HEC Chairman from a list of four names sent to the Prime Minister Office by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training.

The position had been lying vacant since April 16 after the retirement of Dr Mukhtar Ahmed.

In an exclusive talk with The Nation after his appointment, Dr Banuri said that the higher education has a significant role in the future of the country and efforts were required to improve the quality of education in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Expressing his views about bringing improvement in the higher education sector, he said that students and faculty will be the major focus under his stewardship. “We have to invest in students and faculty,” he said.

Dr Banuri will be the 4th Chairman to head the higher education regulatory body with above Rs40billion development funds for the promotion and strengthening of the higher education infrastructure and research in universities.

Dr Banuri was also part of the Steering Committee formed to establish HEC in the country in 2002.

He holds a PhD degree in economics from the Harvard University and a master degree in development economics from Williams College. He got his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Peshawar. In addition, Dr Banuri is author of 20 books and more than 30 research papers.

His profile includes his experience of serving as Director, Division for Sustainable development, at the United Nations. Dr. Tariq started his career in the Civil Service of Pakistan, went on to receive a PhD in Economics from Harvard University, joined the United Nations as Research Fellow at the World Institute of for Development Economics Research (Wider), a model that he adopted in setting up and serving as the founding Executive Director (ED) of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan.

He also served as member of the Board of Governors of Pakistan’s central bank, member of the board of Environment Protection Council, and Member/Secretary of the Presidential Steering Committee on Higher Education, and as a coordinating Lead Author of the Nobel Prize winning inter-governmental Penal on Climate Change (IPCC).

Academic and civil society circles have hailed the appointment of Dr Banuri. Through a statement, the National Coordinator Inter-University Consortium (NCIS) and the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) greeted the new HEC chairman.

They assured their utmost cooperation for bringing about positive reforms in higher education sector after reviewing challenges faced by the higher education sector during last four years.

They also lauded efforts of the search committee for making transparent decisions despite pressure from various quarters.