Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr. Javaid R Laghari has said that the time has come to enjoy the interest of investment in higher education, warning any cut in education budget would be detrimental for higher education and could push the country back to a position, it stood ten years ago.
In an exclusive interview with ‘The News’ on Tuesday, Dr. Laghari said: “we are in the final stages of building a strong relation between academia and the industries and at this stage we have to extend more support to our higher education sector to bolster it, otherwise all the exercises of the past 10 years would be fruitless.”
Dr. Javaid R Laghari said that it was very unfortunate that Pakistan was spending very meagre amount on higher education because nobody gives priority to education in the country.
HEC chairman said that in total Rs41 billion were passed for the higher education last year, but the financial year is going to end and HEC is yet to receive an amount of Rs13.8 billion, which is pending.
Dr. Javaid R Laghari has said that all the developed and developing countries are supporting their higher education sector, as higher education brings economic revolution in the country, but unfortunately here in Pakistan subsidy for the university students is diminishing with each passing year whereas in India every student is enjoying four times higher subsidy as compared to their Pakistani counterparts. “There is a dire need to increase budget for higher education, if we want to compete in the world and make Pakistan become a stronger nation,” he added.
Dr. Laghari urged the government to support the higher education and releases its budget if they want to get best and quick results. “Devolving the HEC or cutting its budget could be very dangerous for higher education in Pakistan,” he added.
Talking about the Education Expo, Dr. Laghari, said that it is a good contribution of Jang Group to spread awareness among the students. “In this expo students would get a chance to get maximum knowledge about the universities and the university students would also get opportunity to display their projects and attract the industries,” he added.
Talking about the role of HEC, he said that the mission of the Higher Education Commission is to facilitate institutions of higher education, to serve as engine of growth for the socio-economic development of Pakistan. “HEC is faced with three key challenges, quality, access and relevance,” he added. He said improvement in quality of academic standards and research is the top priority of HEC. “Huge efforts have been made in the last few years on improvement in quality and as a result we have now 6 universities of Pakistan are now ranked among the top Technology Universities of the World,” he added.
Talking about the access to higher education, HEC chairman said that access is one of the major challenges for the commission. Currently only 8 per cent of the students have access to higher education in Pakistan, which is very low. “The number of faculty with PhD degrees has doubled in last five years, but even then hardly 25 per cent of the faculty has PhD degrees,” Laghari said.
Talking about the scholarship programmes, Dr. Laghari said that it was very successful and around 1,000 students are returning back and have started serving the country. Currently 812 scholars are serving in different universities of the country and 224 applications are under process for placement of other scholars.
Dr. Laghari said that HEC is supporting and expanding in the establishment of business, agriculture and technology parks and incubators in the country. “We are going to make a technology park in Islamabad, which would be the first one in Pakistan and after that we have planned to make such parks in other major cities as well,” he added. He said that HEC is going to host the conference of vice chancellors of the universities of Islamic countries in June and it is expected that around 300 VCs would participate in it. “The main purpose of this conference is to see the strength of Islamic countries and to get support for each other,” he added.
Dr. Javaid R. Laghari is Chairperson of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. Previously, he was a Senator from 2006 to 2009. As Senator, Dr. Laghari served in the Senate Standing Committees on Water and Power; Information Technology; and Information and Broadcasting. He was the Deputy Coordinator of the PPP Central Committees on Policy Planning, and Chairman of the PPP Committee on Energy and Power. Dr. Laghari was key Advisor to Benazir Bhutto on Education, Energy and Power, Science and Technology, Information Technology, and was the co-author of the PPP Election Manifesto 2008.
Dr. Laghari has published over 120 research papers and presented over 70 papers at international conferences. He is also the recipient of the ‘Distinguished Leadership Award’, 1987, the ‘IEEE Award for Leadership and Dedicated Services’, 1994, and the coveted national award ‘Tamgha-e-Imtiaz’ conferred by the President of Pakistan in 1998.
Courtesy: The News