Five-year plan on the anvil to modernize higher education

ISLAMABAD: In view of the growing needs of the higher education sector of the province and the vision outlined in the “Future Road Map of Higher Education” prepared by the five member Steering Committee comprising Vice Chancellors of leading universities of the Punjab, the PHEC has initiated work on formulating a5-year strategic plan to bring higher education at par with modern needs.

Increasing equitable access, especially to far-flung areas of the province  is a top priority of the PHEC along with  improving academic/teaching standards, focusing on research relevant to the socio-economic needs of the province and creating an employable workforce through increased efforts towards imparting structural and technical skills.

PHEC has identified certain top priority areas such as (i) Energy, (ii) ICT, (iii) Health, (iv) Agriculture, (v) Livestock (vi) Social Sciences for which it is setting up Committees comprising regional and international experts to serve as think-tanks.

These bodies will help improve the quality of policy as well as planning and implementation in order to accelerate the growth and progress of these critical sectors. Focus on these areas is the need of the hour as they add to the economic health of the province.

Though the PHEC is principally focused on strengthening/modifying the prevailing structure of higher education and building on existing assets for optimal returns, it also has plans to introduce new initiatives that will serve as engines of change in the existing system.

Some of the special initiatives are as follows:Introduce concept of “Community Colleges” using existing college facilities available during the afternoons to offer degrees in a wide range of technical/professional disciplines focused on producing industry ready graduates.

Establish 3 Academies for Professional Development of Faculty in Lahore, Southern Punjab and Northern Punjab on the pattern of the Civil Services Academies. These residential academies will conduct mandatory trainings at the pre-service level and also hold refresher courses to update existing faculty members on new, evolving and effectivepedagogical teaching techniques.

Introduce appointments of “Professors of Practice” to leverage the experience of eminently qualified professionals and academicians. These will be special, adjunct, non-tenure track faculty positions.

Create and share a Graduate Directory of all degree holding youth and professionals of Punjab in order to facilitate them through career counseling, internships and job placements in their areas of specialization.=DNA

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