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Supporting research projects with multiples partners, grant aims to resolve key issues of national interestSupporting research projects with multiples partners, grant aims to resolve key issues of national interest<p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>More than 700 applications received for mega GCF grant launched by HEC</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, May 22, 2020:  More than 700 applications have been received in the Grand Challenge Fund (GCF) launched by HEC in February 2020. Supported by The World Bank-funded Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project, GCF is a unique research programme. Its aim is to encourage university professors to help solve the pressing problems facing the country.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"For too long HEC funded research projects without asking whether they had any impact. GCF is different; its very ethos is to assess the quality of research on how it will contribute to socio-economic development in Pakistan, how it will help solve the problems that confront us, and how it will support our communities, our businesses, our farmers, and our government agencies in making decisions that improve the lives of ordinary citizens. GCF is a very competitive grant. The success rate is no more than 3 or 4 per cent. Grants will go through a peer-reviewed evaluation by high-level committees. We do expect papers to be published in the best journals. But we also expect to see results on the ground," said Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri in a statement issued here in Islamabad.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In Phase-I (year 20-21), 25<strong> </strong>proposals will be selected out of over 700 submissions. The maximum duration of each grant project is three years, and the maximum grant amount is Rs. 150 million. In this phase, the challenge statements (i.e., problems to be solved) have been kept relatively broad. These are in nine thematic areas, namely Food Security; Water Management and Sustainability; Sustainable Energy; Sociology and Philosophy; Development Economics; Urban Planning; Climate Change and Environment; Information Technology and Telecom; and Innovative Governance and Reforms.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">To ensure high quality of research, 32 research intensive universities from across the Pakistan are identified by HEC, who will be the key partners in GCF. Faculty members from these universities have been asked to collaborate with faculty members from other universities, both within and outside Pakistan, as needed. The proposals will go through a rigorous cycle of evaluation and review by specialized panels of experts. To ensure the transparency of the evaluation process, the reviewers have been asked to declare any potential conflict of interest. Anyone who has a potential conflict of interest has to recuse themselves from the panel. Also, in keeping with best practice internationally, the detailed comments will be kept in confidence. Both accepted and rejected proposal applicants will be intimated by HEC.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HEC has funded thousands of research projects in the past, and this has led to a 15-fold number of research articles published in recognized journals every year, in addition to some industry agreements and new startups. However, the impact on the ground is very limited. With GCF, a new system of selection as well as monitoring and evaluation has been introduced to orient researchers towards achieving more concrete outcomes, such as higher productivity and efficiency, more equitable allocation systems, better health systems, and more exports.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) is a five-year project (2019/20 – 2023/24) being implemented by HEC, with support from the World Bank. It aims to support research excellence in strategic sectors of the economy, improve teaching and learning, and strengthening governance in higher education. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p>22-05-2020 12:56:56<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
Recurring Grant for Higher Education Increased by 9.2 %, Special Package for Universities in Balochistan, GB & FATARecurring Grant for Higher Education Increased by 9.2 %, Special Package for Universities in Balochistan, GB & FATA<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, May 20, 2020: A special package of Rs.285 million has been separately allocated for universities of Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan, over and above  their normal allocation for the upcoming financial year 2020-21. FATA University has also been prioritised and its allocation has been tripled.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The funding for all universities has been increased strictly on the basis of their performance, as indicated by the number of research publications by their faculty members, the number and amounts of the research grants received, the bandwidth utilized for access to digital libraries and Internet resources, the amount spent on conferences and professional travel, and the number of PhD faculty and PhD students.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Meanwhile, due to paucity of funds compared with the requirement, a principle decision has been taken by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) regarding newly established universities. During next year, no new university is being added to recurring grant stream of HEC. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Almost 20 newly established universities have approached HEC for funding from the next year. The inclusion of new universities would have resulted in a reduction of the allocations to older universities.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Higher Education Commission had requested the federal government to allocate Rs.104.789 billion as recurring grant for FY 2020-21. The requirement includes funds for universities as well as for pursuing the HEC research agenda, the start of several new initiatives (NAHE, ETC, HEMIS, PERU, and P-15 Research Universities), funding for the Tenure Track Faculty, funding for the Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN), and the resources needed to meet COVID-19 related challenges.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Despite resource constraints to the federal exchequer, the Federal Government has allocated Rs.70.00 billion to HEC as recurring grant for the next year 2020-21, which represents an increase of only 9.2 per cent in comparison with the current year's (2019-20) funding of Rs.64.100 billion. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">However, considering inadequacy of funding for next year, HEC has requested the Prime Minister to consider enhancement in the budgetary allocation to HEC. In two separate letters, the Chairman, HEC also apprised the Federal Minister for Federal Education & Professional Training, and Adviser on Finance and Revenues, of the enormously deleterious consequences of inadequate allocation to higher education. Both offices have been requested to intervene at this critical movement and enhance HEC's budgetary allocation for next year.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Meanwhile, HEC has carried out a rigorous exercise for allocation of funds amongst HEC National Research Programmes, different type of universities / HEIs considering their needs and availability of overall funding, and HEC secretariat expenses, etc. which constitute less than one percent of the total allocated funds.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><br></p>20-05-2020 20:34:34<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
HEC Directs Universities to Announce Exam PoliciesHEC Directs Universities to Announce Exam Policies<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, May 12, 2020: The purpose of examinations is to reward students for actions that will make them successful in their future lives. This was stated by the Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri, in a meeting with the Vice Chancellors and Rectors of all public and private universities of the country. He was responding to a question whether universities should promote students without any exam. "Examinations and assessments are an integral part of the teaching process. Attempts to eliminate exams will have severe repercussions for educational quality and student achievement", he added. " Only fake degree mills issue degrees and certificates without verification ".  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This was the fourth meeting between HEC and the Vice Chancellors since the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was convened to reach consensus on examinations policy, admissions policy, academic quality, and the academic calendar during the virus pandemic. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The meeting decided that all universities will announce their policies on examinations and admissions within one week. All attempts shall be made to protect the academic calendar. The special problems faced by graduating students will be addressed. HEC will set up an appellate system to follow up on student complaints. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Sharing their views on the occasion, the Vice Chancellors appreciated HEC for its proactive approach towards the impending academic hardships in the wake of lockdown and closure of universities. They agreed to come up with their examination policies, based on natures of examinations, aligned with their respective feasibility scenarios and needs of students.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Participants agreed that HEC and universities have shared objectives, as they want to save the semester, avoid disruption in academic calendar, motivate students to keep learning, and address the issues of graduating students. The common sentiment among the academic leadership is that that semester should not be allowed to go waste. There was also the shared concern that disruption in academic calendars is costly and takes a long time to correct, as the disruption of 1980s led to loss of time and quality with prolonged impact. All efforts must be made to sustain educational activities during this difficult period, so as to minimize any disruption in the academic calendar. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HEC directed universities to formulate and publicly announce transparent policies on how they will conduct examinations at the end of the Corona-affected semester. HEC had canvassed the approaches being taken by universities all over the world, and had shared the most successful options with universities. However each option involved significant pros and cons. Universities could use any combination of the options as long as they met the minimum standards of readiness and shared the policy publicly.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Please review these options that we discussed today, formulate a clear policy on how this will be done, and share the policy as well as additional guidelines with your students, faculty as well as HEC."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">A clear policy is also needed on admissions In the light of the recent decisions by examination boards to announce results on the basis of past exams. Universities were asked to decide how they will evaluate these results in order to make admissions decisions.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HEC will circulate prudential guidelines on exams as well as admissions in order to ensure that the students' concerns are not ignored and every attempt is made to ensure quality of education. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Chairman stated that Pakistan is passing through a national emergency and the HEC and universities, in their capacities, are committed to providing public service by fulfilling their obligations. He said that students had raised a number of concerns, including those about the quality of online instruction, the issues of connectivity faced by some of them, and uncertainty with regard to examinations. Universities had initiated action on quality issues, and their reports were being evaluated at HEC. Also, efforts were afoot to address some of the connectivity issues faced by students through collaboration with PTA and the Telecoms, and targeted investment in supportive programs. Finally, universities need adopt transparent assessment policies to eliminate the uncertainty and confusion plaguing students. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The participants also discussed how to exploit the prevailing crisis as an opportunity to enhance the quality and effectiveness of teaching. The future scenario is uncertain and the closure of universities till July 15, 2020 may be extended. This has necessitated decisions and steps on part of both HEC and universities with regard to online teaching, examinations, and admissions. These decisions could also help enhance the educational experience even later on.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Chairman also asked the Vice Chancellors to take steps to resolve the problems facing the graduating students on urgent basis, in addition to making decisions about new admissions, thesis research and use of laboratories. He said HEC has shared its guidelines with the universities about thesis defense, allowing it to be online. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He urged the Vice Chancellors to supervise and assist their faculty to streamline the labour intensive work, helping them render the online learning management system a success. "All the complaints need to be taken seriously." He informed the VCs that an appellate procedure will soon be set up to look into the complaints. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p>12-05-2020 16:35:28<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
VCs Commit to Making E-Learning Successful to Mitigate Educational LossVCs Commit to Making E-Learning Successful to Mitigate Educational Loss<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, April 23, 2020: Vice Chancellors have expressed their full commitment to making online classes and e-learning a success amidst the closure of universities in the wake of situation created due to COVID-19 crisis.    <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the third Vice Chancellors Committee meeting held since the closure of universities due to the spread of COVID-19, the university heads reviewed the progress on universities' readiness to offer online classes to avoid academic loss. The meeting, conducted online through Microsoft Teams, was attended by all Vice Chancellors from across the country. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Vice Chancellors expressed their resolve to accelerate their efforts, with the collaboration of HEC, to enhance the quality of online classes, ensure the readiness of e-learning components, and contribute to the national effort against the prevailing crisis. They thanked the HEC for facilitating the universities in executing the Learning Management System (LMS). They asserted that they are committed to resolving all the issues facing the students, faculty and administrative staff in making the LMS a success with the assistance of HEC.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">On this occasion, Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri stressed the need for immediate measures, on the part of universities, to ensure readiness for online classes. He requested the Vice Chancellors to adopt and announce a formal Policy and Standard Operating Procedures for approval of online courses. "If you think your courses are ready for online dissemination, please communicate in writing to HEC so that they may be brought into practice and made available for students." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He emphasised that Learning Management System (LMS) have to be put into place before the start of online classes, in order to provide information, track progress, and coordinate activities. Similarly, universities need to establish governance system for decision-making and adjudication of complaints. He asked universities to assign responsibilities for authorisation of online classes to a dedicated decision making body, e.g., an "Online Academic Council". He also requested Vice Chancellors to appoint focal points for COVID-19, online courses, and for technology support, and to collect and share data on online readiness as quickly as possible. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Chairman HEC highlighted that HEC uses the concept of "online readiness" to assess quality of online programmes. This is measured in terms of a set of targeted requirements, covering learning management systems (LMS), course syllabuses, faculty training, libraries, technological options, examination arrangements, laboratory instruction, and above all the support for students. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He asked Vice Chancellors to satisfy themselves that all actions to prepare for online courses had been taken. "If there is any lapse, there should be readiness to address it." He underlined that: "each class has to be certified for readiness." All course elements must be uploaded on the LMS, which must contain introduction, Learning Objectives, textbooks, and assignments alongside a lesson plan and rules including grading policy. "The Vice Chancellors need to ascertain if the professor or teacher concerned has prepared themselves properly for this task." He said libraries must be enabled to provide course material through online means. "Universities need to make proper arrangements for students to access digital library from home." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He also shed light on various aspects of examination and evaluation system, including its objectives, textbooks, and assignments. He affirmed that detailed guidance on grading policies and evaluations systems will be finalised in a few weeks. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Describing faculty readiness, he stressed the need for faculty training. Faculty must take a recommended course, get IT help for a test run, revise syllabus for online availability, restructure lesson plan, and get students feedback and address their concerns. "Online teaching is completely different from face to face teaching, as it has different challenges and techniques." However, he added, it also offers opportunities along with supportive resources. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"We need to raise quality of teaching in general, but special attention needs to be paid to online teaching in the prevailing circumstances." He recommended that the faculty members require to take a training course for online teaching and also do a dry run of their courses to test the system to address any unforeseen problems. Online Authorisation Council set up to look into faculty readiness would see into the issues related to faculty. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Chairman underlined that student readiness for online classes is the most important aspect on e-learning as it has a number of challenges. He informed the Vice Chancellors that HEC was taking steps to address issues facing the students, including access to internet, and support to students in need. As a first step in this regard, he requested Vice Chancellors to collect and share information about students' location and connectivity challenges. HEC is in contact with telecommunication companies to introduce Taleem Bundle to bring about subsidised internet packages for students. "We hope to reach an agreement quite soon," he informed. He said universities need to raise their technology capabilities as technology, especially the IT, is getting more important amidst the situation created in the wake of COVID-19. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The meeting concluded with a consensus that the Vice Chancellors, with the help of HEC and support of faculty and students, would keep on putting efforts for mitigation of academic loss of students due to the COVID-19 crisis. They agreed to hold frequent meetings to discuss and sort out solutions to every emerging challenge in the way of online education.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p>23-04-2020 17:28:13<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
NAHE holds Meeting with 1st Cohort of IPFP Online Boot Camp 2020NAHE holds Meeting with 1st Cohort of IPFP Online Boot Camp 2020<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, April 16, 2020: The National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE), Higher Education Commission (HEC) is organising the IPFP Online Boot Camp 2020, a four-week online learning programme for candidates of the Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs (IPFP) Programme (Phase II). <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The purpose of this Boot Camp is to accelerate the transfer of essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes in three dimensions: teaching and learning, research management, and professional practice. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">In this regard, NAHE held an introductory meeting with the first cohort of IPFP Online Boot Camp 2020 on Microsoft Teams. All NAHE team members and 42 participants of the first cohort attended the meeting. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Rector NAHE, Prof. Dr. Shaheen Sardar Ali welcomed the participants and gave a brief introduction, followed by introductions by the team members and participants. The purpose, overview and basic technical information for the programme was shared with participants. Participants also shared a positive feedback. They thanked NAHE and HEC, and appreciated their effort and guidance. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">IPFP Online Boot Camp 2020 aims to provide a virtual, immersive, and integrated world-class learning experience that will prepare candidates for their academic careers. Turning the challenge of online learning into an opportunity to learn 21st century skills, the participants, who already hold doctoral degrees, will enter their academic professions with an added advantage. It will be led by international academics and scholars from the USA, Canada and United Kingdom, as well as experts from Pakistan. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The intensive four-week programme for the first cohort is scheduled to officially begin on 27th April 2020, prior to which another orientation session will be held with the instructors.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p>18-04-2020 12:53:01<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
HEC to Fund Research to Address Covid-19 Crisis: Chairman HECHEC to Fund Research to Address Covid-19 Crisis: Chairman HEC<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, March 25, 2020: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has sought proposals from universities, institutes, and individual researchers on ideas to address the Novel Coronavirus crisis. This was decided on Tuesday in a special video meeting of HEC's senior management. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The bulk of HEC staff has been directed to work from home, following the directives of the Health Ministry, so all the work of the Commission is conducted electronically. Applications are received online or through courier, meetings are conducted by video link, and all papers and files are handles electronically. These arrangements have been out in place in order to ensure that all major services of the Commission continue to be provided without interruption during the current emergency. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The research initiative launched today, with the support of the World Bank, is entitled the RAPID Research and Innovation Fund (RRIF) program. It aims to mobilize the research capacities of universities in support of national efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Under the initiative, a rapid assessment and review mechanism has been established to analyze research and innovation proposals urgently. Each applicant seeking funding through the RAPID Research and Innovation Fund can propose an idea based on one of the priority themes. The proposals are due by April 3, and funding decisions will be made within the month of April. Funding will be provided to selected research-intensive institutions for analysis of data, testing of specimens, access to facilities or equipment, or development of essential products or services. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Besides the research initiative, HEC has also been working with universities to minimize the impact of the lockdown of universities on academic activities. To this end, three specialized committees have been established to help arrange IT facilities, software, tech support, and curate substantive online content. The objective is to enable faculty members to (virtually) continue teaching their courses from where they left off at the time of closure of universities. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Individual faculty members will share their course outline/s and required reading materials with their students through online learning management systems. Universities will develop repositories of online courses. HEC will facilitate access to an extensive digital library of lectures and courses. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HEC's COVID-19 Technology Support Committee has prepared a working paper to assist the senior leadership of Universities in easing the transition to virtual instruction. The paper provides the minimum technology requirements and recommendations on the choice of digital platforms for the University. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">For collaboration and video conferencing, all public sector Universities have been provided free access to Microsoft Teams software. HEC and Microsoft have been working together to ensure smooth introduction of this platform.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Chairman HEC, Tariq Banuri reiterated that all stakeholders should be sensitized to keep abreast of the latest information about the coronavirus and share it with other people in their communities. Necessary guidelines and safety instructions have already been circulated among universities and are available at the HEC website. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HEC management is continuously monitoring the developing situation arising out of Covid-19 and is in contact with the university leadership for further planning so that all possible support is extended to minimize academic disruption and safeguard faculty and students' academic and research interests to maximum possible extent in the prevailing situation.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p>25-03-2020 15:16:34<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />
Steps Afoot to Avoid Educational Loss of Students amidst Corona CrisisSteps Afoot to Avoid Educational Loss of Students amidst Corona Crisis<p style="text-align:justify;">Islamabad, March 18, 2020: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has developed a databank of the online courses available at the national and international level and shared it with universities, while the university faculty has also been asked to prepare virtual courses for dissemination to students.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">This was stated by Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) Tariq Banuri in a message on the prevailing situation created by coronavirus.      <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Chairman said that coronavirus pandemic has endangered the entire world. As a precautionary measure, students of all the public sector universities have been given a three-week break under instructions by the Government. The ongoing vacations may be adjusted in the summer holidays, however if the prevailing situation persists, the online lectures activity will help avoid educational loss of students. In the meantime, faculty members will take advantage of the break to prepare online lectures for the students to mitigate the disruption in provision of education.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He urged the Vice Chancellors to follow the guidelines about precautions to protect essential staff and faculty from the virus. HEC has issued comprehensive guidelines in this regard, and has also taken precautionary measures at the HEC offices.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He requested all experts and highly educated persons, including faculty members, students, and staff of universities to use their advanced knowledge to keep abreast of the latest information about the coronavirus and share it with other people in their communities. Some information in this regard has been circulated among universities and is available at the HEC website. "People should be advised to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against the virus." This is a social responsibility of all educated persons with access to global media and expert knowledge. He said the people feeling ill should self-isolate themselves and limit their contact with people.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">===============<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><br></p>19-03-2020 07:31:52<img alt="" src="/english/PublishingImages/ThematicImages/HEC%20ICON-15.png" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />





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