The Government of Pakistan has set a target to double enrollment in higher education over the next 5 years whilst bringing about significant improvements in the quality of education delivered at higher education Institutions across the country. In order to achieve these objectives, the Government is making significant investments towards developing institutional facilities, introducing new disciplines in cutting-edge and market based technologies, developing human resource including faculty, improving research facilities and student services, creating linkages with local & foreign universities and promoting university-industry interaction, amongst many others. The planning and development activities of the Commission aim to meet reform objectives through the development, funding and implementation of projects in these key areas.
In pursuit of institutional excellence in teaching and research, HEC has made massive investments to upgrade the physical infrastructure of universities, particularly to cater for the requirements of increased enrollment in higher education and to accommodate the students admitted through various human resource development programs. Cognizant of the fact that traditional brick-and-mortar solutions to improve access will only have an impact to limited degree, HEC has developed a comprehensive ICT strategy to utilize ICTs and distance education to provide education to the masses.
Decades of under-investment in the Higher Education system have led to under-development of physical infrastructure of universities. Strategies for increasing enrollment in higher education, improving research capacity and improving quality of education programs succeed only when the necessary infrastructure for these intervention strategies is in place. In this regard, HEC is complementing these activities through a host of physical and technological infrastructure programs to provide high-quality education services to the sector.
The Planning and Development division of HEC has continued to work with the Planning and Finance divisions of the Government of Pakistan to ensure that development needs of the various public sector universities are provided for. The development expenditure of the universities is allocated on the basis of performance and need, where the need is defined both in terms of the particular requirements of that institution as well as the need for improvement in the higher education sector at a macro level. Universities are encouraged to submit development projects that are relevant to their institutional needs. These projects are submitted for review by the appropriate authority (DDWP, CDWP or ECNEC- dependant on project expenditure) and funds are released accordingly.
Examples of the types of projects funded in this manner are as follows:
- Development of new universities and degree awarding institutions
- Introduction of new disciplines and cutting edge technologies
- Improvement of existing infrastructure
- Upgrading/ strengthening/ establishing of Laboratories
Universities have now been encouraged to submit ‘University Mega-Projects’, which contain all of the development activities the universitie
s envisage to complete over a period of five to seven years. These Mega-Projects are designed according to individual institutional visions and objectives and are placed for review at the ECNEC level.
The establishment of a dynamic and productive science system that can fuel the process of innovation critical for the development of Pakistan’s knowledge economy is one of the major contributions of HEC to Pakistan. The cornerstone of our strategy in this regard is to enable and nurture truly world-class research at indigenous institutions and to ensure that the research enterprise is sufficiently integrated with industry.
HEC’s programs to establish the competitiveness of research base in global context are geared towards recognizing and supporting truly excellent research-financially-along with fostering effective collaboration. Aligned with the human resource and faculty development programs of the Commission, our programs are aimed at enabling researchers to respond to new trends and developments in their fields and to generate new knowledge critical to the national innovation system. HEC has targeted its programs towards supporting the development of the research enterprise to come to grips with possible future directions of S&T to capture the potential social, economic and environmental benefits that may accompany such technological advances. The successful exploitation of new technologies is now a core component of achieving and maintaining international competitiveness which shall in turn be beneficial for the country.
The programs implemented by the Commission to establish a culture of research in indigenous institutions traget the sector in a holistic manner. The aim has been to create an environment conducive to the conduct of world-class research by improving PhD qualifications of research supervisors, meeting short-term deficiencies through the hiring of international experts and creating pool of talented research students through competitive scholarship programs. Coupled with Infrastructure support programs, the establishment of new laboratories and specialized instrumentation centres and providing ICT solutions including high connectivity and a world-leading online digital library resource, HEC aims to re-establish research as the primary activity of our universities. A host of funding opportunities have been provided to support innovative research projects, and mechanisms have been put into place to ensure the relevance of this research to national priorities along with the integration of the research process with the industrial sector.
Access to Information
The terms "information society" and "knowledge-based economy" are used to describe contemporary economic society. In this age of global economy, information is an essential resource for capacity-building along with social and economic development. This new global knowledge-based society requires embracing new development challenges and opportunities that the recent rapid evolution in information and communication technologies (ICT) has brought about.
HEC has aimed to ensure that a comprehensive Information and Communications Technology strategy is incorporated in its goal to develop an information society in Pakistan. Through the University Computerization and Networking Program, all public sector universities have been provided with funds to establish an ICT infrastructure within their institution, including Computer Laboratories and Local Area Networks. The revolutionary Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN), a fiber based intranet, has extended its reach to 60 universities, and provides internet connectivity of 155MB across the network. Now a full voting member of the Asia Pacific Advance Network Consortium (APAN), PERN is enhancing its functionality by providing connected universities with additional applications such as video conferencing and ‘Voice-over-IP’ services for communication between connected universities. Universities and campuses currently not connected to PERN or in remote areas beyond the current reach of the network have been provided with a satellite-based internet downlink providing 45MB of internet connectivity to support the delivery of ICT services at universities.
Digital Library Program of the HEC now provides a globally un-paralleled service, with over 20,000 journals from the world’s leading publishing houses available online to universities and R & D organizations across the country.
Programs introduced, funded and implemented by the Planning Division of the HEC in this context include:
- University Computerization and Networking
- Support of Telecommunications sector and IT related Disciplines
- Strengthening of IT Departments
- PERN Connectivity
- The Pakistan Research Repository
- Video conferencing
Facilities for Students and Faculty
Higher Education Commission is committed to providing high-quality services to both students and faculty to ensure the establishment of modern, vibrant and thriving academic and research environments in the Universities of Pakistan. Coupled with our infrastructure programs aligned according to our human resource development targets, the Commission is allocating funds to support the following facilities to students and faculty at Institutions across the country:
- Student Hostel & Faculty Accommodation
- Faculty development
- Training (Local & Foreign)
- Scholarship for Post Doctoral Studies
- Student services