Higher education flawed by huge crisis in 2017. Pakistan had made progress in many fields of life in year 2017 but unfortunately the higher education sector in Punjab made little to no progress in the year 2017 with different issues like appointment of vice chancellors or when it come reining in financial misappropriations at institutes.
However, even by the end of 2017, the Punjab government was incapable to appoint vice chancellors. Although a little progress was made in this regard as the Higher Education Department (HED) and the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) were capable to define rules for the appointment procedure of vice chancellors. Moreover, a cabinet committee was also formed to finalize the process.
Many universities including Punjab University, University of Home Economics, Women University Multan, University of Sahiwal, University of Jhang, Ghazi University in Dera Ghazi Khan, University of Okara and Information Technology University (ITU) remained without permanent heads in 2017. The appointments were predictable to be made in the year 2018.
Among all universities, Punjab University was the worst-hit by the crisis as it witnessed numerous clashes between students, along with cases being reported of teachers getting thrashed by student groups. Many allegations were also leveled in opposition to the provisional administration for financial misappropriation.
The irony is no decision was made in this regard and the provisional system continued throughout the year although a comprehensive report was sent to the governor and chief minister by Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani.
Auditor General of Pakistan’s (AGP) report states that out of total irregularities worth Rs36.94 billion in the province, the higher education sector accounted for Rs10.936 billion.
According to the report, recurring irregularities in the HED are more than a period of five years and recommended that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) look into the matter and intervene.
The report illustrious the two major clusters of irregularities in the accounts. First one is about irregular appointments and random increase in pay and allowances, while the second points out about as non-adherence to Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.
The issue of Illegal institutions
In the previous year Punjab government also go through the scandal of illegal higher education institutions in the province. A list with great number of illegal higher education institutions in the country was released by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).
The list revealed all detailed about unrecognized institutions in three categories. And here Punjab was also top of the list as among the 165 non-recognized institutions in the state, Punjab accounted for 102 institutions, which was a total of 61.81%.
After revelation of this big scandal PHEC decided to keep a closer eye on illegal institution and ongoing developing a higher education database which would feature public and private colleges as well as universities. The purpose behind this move is to outline numbers of enrolled students, faculties, programmes and teachers. The database was hoped to assist regulatory authorities and policymakers to make conversant decisions.
On the other hand PHEC has been started to on the database, which will be publically available in the later stages, is predictable to take complete profile in 2018.