Misadventure with higher education!

The ongoing controversy over devolution of higher education to provinces has got intensified following the federating units are in the process of grasping this important sector but without any professional homework. The higher education, after the 18th amendment, was devolved to provinces keeping the central role with the at the centre. Though this initiative was taken to ensure transparency in affairs, better performance of institutions as well as lessen burden on the central HEC, yet the situation remains the same even after the passage of four years. This has done nothing but pushed the higher education sector to further decline. Subsequently, funds for HEC have substantially reduced, its authority has been compromised and majority of students as well as professionals sent abroad on HEC scholarships for higher studies are facing financial problems. Moreover, a number of research and development projects have been shelved mainly for want of sufficient funds at the disposal of the HEC, courtesy the political decisions. The provinces bleak progress and political governments priority towards regulating higher education have compromised this sector. Even then, certain parliamentarians are out to support the devolution of higher education sector to provinces. It is gravely apprehended that the higher education would meet the same fate if professional seriousness is not displayed on the issue. It has widely been observed that developed states have a central command on certain issues particularly education, defence, environment, foreign policy with certain devolution of powers to federating units. In most federations of the world, the federating units — states and provinces — take full responsibility in funding, governance and developing academic programmes in higher education institutions. Moreover, the federating units are more appropriate for developing a unified education system by joining the rivets of primary, secondary and higher education together. This creates an integrated and relevant education system for that federating unit. If the higher education is split among provinces, the governance model of higher education would constantly remain like pain in the neck with host of issues like clash of interests between the centre and the federating units. It will also curtail the institutional autonomy of these institutions which ought to be autonomous in conducting research and development activities. The current leadership of HEC at the centre is quite capable and has a broader vision to patronize the higher education keeping in view the sophistication of modern times. It would be a sane approach if the authorities avoid any misadventure with the higher education as we, as a nation, cannot afford such mishandling any more.

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