Plan to give colleges degree awarding status faces delay
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By Mohammad Ashfaq | 6/13/2016 12:00:00 AM
PESHAWAR: The Higher Education Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has put the plan of declaring seven government colleges in as many divisions as degree awarding institutions on the back burner as some vicechancellors of public sector universities have opposed theidea, according to sources.

They said that the decision to give degree awarding status to colleges in seven divisions of the province was taken a year ago to bring improvement in quality of education, increase oversight and solve issues between the colleges and universities.

They said that if the plan was implemented around 200 government colleges in the province would be disaffiliated from the public sector universities.

Currently, they said, the universities had been conducting examinations of the students enrolled in the affiliated colleges, awarding degrees to them and dealing with their academic-related issues.

Asked why the VCs have opposed the plan, the sources said that fees for conducting exam-inations and award of degrees were the big sources of income for the universities. They said that if 200 degree colleges were disaffiliated from the universities the latter would face financial problems and that was why some influential VCs had intervened in the affairs of HED due to which high-ups of the department were silent about the plan.

They said that the universities did not have enough time to fulfil the affiliation responsibilities of ensuring quality in academics and teachingin colleges.For providing legalcover to give degree awarding status to the colleges, HED has already proposed a law titled `The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Degree Colleges Bill, 2015`. However, the law couldn`t be passed from the provincial assembly for implementation of the plan, they said.

The HED has already selected the postgraduate colleges in each divisional headquarter of the province, including Government Postgraduate College Peshawar, GPGC Mardan, GPGC Abbottabad No 1, GPGC Kohat, GPGC Dera Ismail Khan and Government Postgraduate Jahanzaib College, Mingora.

After disaffiliation of colleges from the public sector universities, the right to award degrees and conduct examinations would be transferred to the selected colleges, they said.

The administration of the universities, specially old universities, see the disaf├▒liation of government colleges as a financial loss to them because the universities have been earning considerable amount through different fees,including fee for examinations, awarding degrees, detail marks certificates, etc.

The selected postgraduate colleges would conduct examinations up to Bachelor of Studies the 16 years degree programme of the constituent government colleges. Such colleges would establish own examination system, they said.

Preamble of the law states `It is expedient to reconstitute and reorganise government colleges to provide for affordable quality higher education and to further improve their governance and management by ensuring accountability and transparency by upgrading selected government colleges to degree awarding colleges as government degree colleges at Abbottabad, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Haripur, Kohat, Mardan, Mansehra and Peshawar with prominent government colleges of respective districts constituting the main campuses and to make provisions for matters connected therewith and ancillary thereto`.

The proposed law states that the contents of this act shall apply to Government Jehanzeb College Saidu Sharif, Swat, and other government colleges in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas only after the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issues regulations to that effect under the Article 247 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

Under the proposed law, academic autonomy would be awarded to the colleges while financially the colleges would be dependent on the government. Different bodies would also be established under the proposed bill including, Higher Education Executive Council, Academic Council, Academic Department, Government Degree College Executive Council, etc.

Khyber Pakhtunlchwa College Teachers Association president Nasrullah Yousafzai said that the plan of allowing government colleges to award degrees would be beneficial for the students. Currently, he said, the universities were creating hurdles to the colleges in launching new disciplines and courses.

He said that the universities had fixed high fees for conducting examination, awarding degrees, etc which was a burden on students. Special assistant to the chief minister on higher education, Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, was not available for comments.