At the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat, the Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project’s fifth Steering Committee meeting was held, during which committee members reviewed the project’s progress.
Dr. Tariq Javed Banuri, the Chairman of the HEC, presided over the meeting, which was attended by committee members from all around the country, including senior officials from major federal ministries and provincial higher education agencies, vice-chancellors, and industrial representatives.
He claimed the project is focused on all of Pakistan’s major fields of higher education, and that he has been involved in it from the beginning planning discussions to the finalisation of its granular elements. He emphasised the issues facing higher education and expressed hope that, despite opposition, the project will help to bring about much-needed improvements in society and the system.
Dr. Banuri asked senior provincial government officials to assist the project’s implementation in their areas.
The HEDP has built a Higher Education Data Repository (HEDR) system, which has been piloted in ten universities, Maryam Riaz informed the committee. It receives data from more HEIs and expands on it in collaboration with the HEC statistical division. Many of the research funds received as part of the initiative are focused on scientific and social issues of national importance. These include developing creative solutions for the country’s medical, industrial, agricultural, and economic sectors.
She also announced the second round of the Grand Challenge Fund (GCF), the Local Challenge Fund1 (LCF1), the LCF2, and the Technology Transfer Support Fund (TTSF) grants (for the first time in the HEC), as well as the launch of the Innovator Seed Fund (ISF) and the Center of Excellence (CoE) grants (for the first time in the HEC).
The HEDP has stated that MOUs for the creation of Quality Enhancement Cells in associated colleges of 22 universities are being finalised. In addition, seed money will be granted to 16 colleges to help them start internship programmes, which are a key component of the new Undergraduate Education Policy (UEP).
The initiation of a cascade model for training faculty on UEP, capacity building through the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE), which trained 990 Ph.D. scholars of the IPFP, two cohorts of the women leadership programme, and senior HEC officials, and the procurement process for several national IT initiatives were also highlighted in the meeting.
The project’s goal, according to the commission, is to develop Pakistan’s first national comprehensive blockchain system to attest and validate students’ academic qualifications. A national data repository for all Pakistani higher education students is also being developed, which will provide strategic insight to decision-makers.
The committee praised the HEDP team’s efforts and offered comments. It described the state of higher education institutions and affiliated colleges in different regions and recommended tailoring project efforts to regional needs and better collaboration between the HEC and provincial departments.
The HEDP is a five-year project that the HEC is implementing to expand its core higher education priorities (2019-20 – 2023-24).