The Supreme Court has directed the HEC to shut down all sub-campuses established outside the jurisdiction of their subsequent private universities. The ruling came following a case filed by students who contended that HEC is not verifying their degrees because the campuses were illegally established. In its defence, the HEC claimed that it had repeatedly warned the universities but to no avail and that the situation requires the intervention of the provincial and federal governments.
But why wasn’t the situation taken care of beforehand and why did it take a group of students to file a case in order to finally do what is necessary? While the court needs to be commended on directing the HEC to attest the degrees through a special arrangement, those that are bent upon jeopardising the future of students must be held accountable and punished accordingly. Currently, the HEC is a weak institution. It must be given enough resources and authority so that it can focus on providing quality higher education to the disgruntled youth of the country. Unfortunately, this seems to be a distant reality as the current higher education system is in a deplorable state. The federal government must amend the law so as to give HEC the power to take relevant action. In the meantime, NAB should be given responsibility to not only investigate the case but also look into any corrupt practices the HEC indulged in.
It is essential for the relevant quarters to realise that Pakistan’s future depends upon the youth — which comprises almost 63% of the population — and on the strength of our education system. Considering the literacy and unemployment rate, the future of Pakistan seems bleak. It is up to the concerned authorities to take prudent measures to eliminate illegal practices and improve the quality of education in order to raise our national hope. The HEC must be sincere and lead with an iron hand.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2021.