ISLAMABAD: The Working Group on Higher Education Reforms has prepared recommendations on the transparent and merit-based appointment of the new chairperson of federal Higher Education Commission (HEC) and sent to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, controlling authority of HEC, as well as members of Search committee formed by Prime Minister to appoint new HEC head.
In a letter to PM, the President Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Islamabad and member Working Group on Higher Education Reforms Dr Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry, on the behalf of the working group and FAPUASA Islamabad, extended thanks to the PM for appointing apolitical search committee comprising of reputed academicians and experts.
The letter states after wider countrywide consultations with the concerned stakeholders, senior academicians and experts, a set of recommendations has been prepared which would be greatly helpful in the transparent and merit-based appointment of chairperson HEC. Working Group on Higher Education Reforms and FAPUASA would continue to extend any further cooperation in terms of any technical support and would monitor all key appointments in the higher education sector.
The 7- pages recommendations state that the HEC is recognized as institution of the highest prestige in the country responsible for strategizing and regulating the Higher Education Sector and performing important functions pertaining to accreditation of new and existing HEIs The chief executive of this institution i.e chairman HEC, therefore, needs to be an individual who understands the sector, has a vision for its future, commands respect among all the major stakeholders and has the ability to steer this highly important sector to achieve comprehensive success for the nation. Regarding the appointment of HEC Chief, the HEC law states: “The controlling authority [i.e. the prime minister] shall appoint a person of international eminence and proven ability who has made a significant contribution to higher education as teacher, researcher or administrator, as chairperson on such terms and conditions as it may determine.” Under this section, the search committee is supposed to evaluate the candidates on the basis of their “international eminence” and “proven ability” measured in terms of “significant contribution to higher education as a teacher, researcher or administrator”.
The recommendations also include overview of previous appointments of heads of HEC and University Grants Commission (1974-2002), references of judgments, guidelines and principles directed by Supreme Court of Pakistan for transparent appointment of heads of autonomous bodies, parameters and case study on flaws in previous appointments in higher education sector which resulted in litigation at various courts of Pakistan.