HEC `non-recognition spree` arouses student rage
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By Khursheed Anwar Khan | 10/9/2015 12:00:00 AM
MIANWALI: Three years after the launch of the University of Sargodha`s sub-campuses in Mianwali and Bhakkar, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has declared these `nonrecognized` and warned the students through an advertisement that any degree issued by these institutions would not be acknowledged.

As the announcement has been made at a time when admissions for the new academic year are in progress, a number of students (both already studying there and new applicants for various disciplines) have been rudely awakened to the situation. A good 500 degree holders find themselves in a blind alley.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif approved the UoS` Mianwali subcampus vide his letter of May 16, 2012. He also got approval from the varsitysyndicatefortheestablishment of sub-campuses inMianwali and Bhakl(ar.

The clause 4 of the University of Sargodha Ord 2002, as per the Punjab government gazette of Nov 16, 2002, says `the university is empowered to establish its sub-campuses.

An 80 kanal 14 marla chunk of state land was transferred free of cost in favour of the Higher Education Commission for establishment of the UoG sub-campus in Mianwali. The Punjab Colonies Department issued a letter to the effect on Sept 25, 2012. The land was taken out from the Government Degree College holding besides providing one hostel and other facilities of the college to make the campus functional.

The Sargodha university management spent millions of rupees to construct their academic and administrative blocks and construction of hostels and other academic blocks are expected soon in view of the good response of the students.

The sub-campus started operation on Sept 1, 2012 and Prof DrMuhammad Ilyas Tariq took charge as its first director. More than 500 students took admission to six departments in the very first session, necessitating introduction of post-graduation classes. As of now 500 students of first session have obtained master`s degrees in different subjects and the number of departments has enhanced to 13, where nearly 2,000 students are enrolled.

Sources told Dawn that they had received 3,800 applications to get admission to the 13 departments for the new session. The HEC development has panicked the students and theirparents.

Hadi Khan, the father of a student who has obtained a degree from the campus, spoke to Dawn and expressed his anxiety about the future of his son.

Student Zaman Khan said he belonged to a poor family and his parents were unable to financially support him to study out of the district. His satisfaction at completing his master`s degree from the varsity sub-campus had provedshort-lived as the HEC had come up with a shocking news about non-recognition of the institute.

Former Mianwali District Bar Association president Sardar Nasrullah Khan told Dawn that the HEC had attempted to close the sub-campus and he and his colleagues would agitate against the move at all forums.

Malik Naik Muhammad, vice president of the Pakistan Tax Bar Association, described the HEC move as a conspiracy against educational urgency in backward districts like Mianwali and Bhakkar.

He urged the chief minister to take notice.

Advocate Malik Obaidullah, a member of the College Council, sees it as a bolt from the blue for the students. He said a campaign would be launched against the move.

The sub-campus director, Prof Dr Muhammad Ilyas Tariq, told Dawn that the sudden move by the HEC meant that the degrees of 500 students were not recognised and the newcomers would have the same fate. After the 18thamendment, he said, the universities fell under the ambit of their respective provinces. The university ordinance of 2002 allowed opening of a campus, he said.

He said the HEC representatives visited the sub-campuses on May 8, 2012 on the direction of the National Assembly Secretariat which forwarded the recommendationsoftheStandingCommittee on Planning, Development and Reforms to the Commission to make necessary arrangements for its upgradation and submit a report to the committee.

Dr Ilyas said the HE C had issued a list of institutions not recognised by it including the UoS sub-campuses in Mandi Bahauddin, Faisalabad, Lahore, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Sialkot and Rawalpindi. `Ironically, the HEC is unaware of the fact that there are no sub-campuses of the university in Rawalpindi and Sialkot,` he said while declaring that the timing of the move left little doubt that the measure was `an attempt to facilitate some institution at the cost of students.