HEC plans scholarships for students of Balochistan, FATA
Higher Education Commission (HEC) has prepared a roadmap for the phase-wise establishment of 32 sub-campuses with an estimated cost of Rs 5.6 billion in different parts of the country, lacking higher educational institutes, revealed HEC Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali.
HEC, in accordance with the Vision 2025, “Establishment of sub-campus of Public Sector University at district level” prepared an umbrella project which was considered by Central Development Working Party (CDWP) in its meeting held on August 4, 2016 and recommended to Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). The estimated cost of the project is Rs 5.6 billion with an allocation of Rs 350 million for the current financial year, while the implementation period is 36 months. Under the project, 32 sub-campuses will be established in areas lacking higher educational institutes, said the ED, while briefing the Senate Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas. The committee met here with Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar in the chair on Friday.
The committee chairman said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal give no worth to recommendations over budget and other development projects of the Senate of Pakistan as well as to the Functional Committee on Less Developed Areas. The committee decided to write letters to both the ministers to express their concerns.
The ED said that HEC would provide funding for the infrastructure/faculty development and other allied facilities, whereas respective provincial governments shall be required to extend necessary support in terms of providing building to start academic activities and thereafter free of cost land for establishing university/sub-campus. Arshad Ali apprised the committee that Balochistan and other less developed areas were given priority in disbursement of foreign and indigenous scholarships for students.
He added that return rate of students who got scholarships for foreign studies stood remarkable and was 92 percent and those who chose not to return to Pakistan were required to submit complete scholarship funding along with a 25 percent penalty. The committee was informed that over Rs 10 million have so far been recovered from the students who refused to return.
Kakar directed to revise the policy of scholarship disbursement, where 50 percent should be allocated for merit across the province and the other half be allocated for merit in that district. He added that in case scholarships reserved for students of district were not utilised, they should be filled by the students of other areas of the province.
The committee was told that a project of strengthening universities in less developed areas has been launched to support about 12 universities in terms of accommodation, IT equipment and library services for students and faculty members.
The committee has given directives to accelerate the execution process of these projects in order to provide better academic services to the students of under-privileged areas. It also directed to expedite the evaluation process of issuance of equivalence and verification certificates/degrees to the students who are foreign qualified.
The committee was further informed that the HEC in compliance of the Prime Minster’s directive is preparing a project for provision of quality education opportunities to 2,000 students of Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (1,200 from Balochistan & 800 from FATA). Out of 2,000 scholarships, 1,000 will be for quality education and 1,000 for technical & vocational training. Intake will be taken from Class-VIII up to Class XII. Scholarships will be distributed at the ration of 60:40 to the students of Balochistan and FATA respectively, while with 50:50 ratio for male and female students.
The HEC officials further said that in order to provide opportunity to youth and establish technology infrastructure, numerous steps have been taken by current government. A few of the major initiatives are Smart University project wherein all public universities will have availability of WiFi throughout the campus; Smart Class Project, wherein student will attend and study virtually and will have access to all the information being taught at classroom; Smart Assessment Project, delivery of learning objectives; Education TV; HEC Cloud Data Center, through which all universities can have access to high speed servers to host their services and make research collaborations. To provide better security to students at universities the Save University Campus has also been initiated.
However, the committee chairman objected that security situation in Balochistan is not very good but the save university campus facility has not been extended. On which, the HEC officials responded that the project would be implemented in phases. These initiatives are for all universities, especially for universities located in the Less Developed Areas.