‘Who will verify degrees?’ students ask government

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KARACHI – A large number of students and teachers of the University of Karachi (KU) and the NED University of Engineering and Technology blocked the University Road on Saturday to protest the devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Wearing black armbands and holding placards, they chanted slogans against the government. “The HEC is the only institution in the country that verifies degrees and if it’s disbanded, the authenticity of our degrees could be affected,” a protesting student told Pakistan Today.
The teachers argued that provinces do not possess the required set-up to carry out the functions that the HEC is performing and, therefore, the devolution of the commission makes little sense. The protesters demanded that the government should reverse its decision to disband the HEC.
However, they remained peaceful and did not affect the educational activities at their respective universities as the students and teachers staged their protest during break hours. Until the process of devolution is completed, the federal government would be responsible for providing funds to universities for up to two years, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said at the CM House.
Presiding a meeting with vice chancellors (VCs) of public universities of the province, Shah stressed upon them that there should be no apprehension among them regarding funds. He gave the VCs his word that if the federal government failed to provide them with funds, the provincial government would ensure that they receive them.
The participants of the meeting were briefed that after approval of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution, education has become a provincial subject and educational institutions, including universities, come under the provincial government.
The CM said that education has been a provincial subject according to the federal list No 1 with all authority, powers and autonomy of universities being under the provincial government. He said that the Constitution is the supreme document encompassing fundamental rights that cannot be overwritten except in the form of amendments by the Parliament.
Universities possess full autonomy under the Constitution, he added. Shah said that with regard to all subjects that are to be devolved, the federal government has consulted with the provinces about allocation of funds reflected in the budget.
He said that he would ensure that the funds are provided as soon as possible and the VCs should work with spirit and enthusiasm as the federal government is legally, morally and constitutionally bound to provide funds to universities.
He stressed upon the VCs to work with full confidence as the matter has been discussed with higher authorities and the federal cabinet has already endorsed and approved education as being a provincial subject.
Shah said that there is no need to worry because the federal government has agreed to provide funds this year and the next. He said that funds for the ongoing schemes and regular expenditure would be ensured by the federal government.
Senior Education and Literacy Minister Pir Mazharul Haq, Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, Law Secretary Ghulam Nabi Shah and Education Secretary Naheed Shah Durrani highlighted the contents of the legal provisions with regard to university affairs after devolution.
The VCs expressed confidence in the leadership of the CM, saying that they would work hard for promoting education through their respective universities and educational institutions.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Abdul Subhan Memon, CM’s Secretary Alamdin Bullo, University of Sindh-Jamshoro VC Dr Nazeer Mughal, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology-Jamshoro VC Dr Abdul Qadeer Rajput, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences-Jamshoro VC Prof Naushad Shaikh, University of Karachi VC Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, and Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University-Karachi VC Rashid Shah.