HEC announces new guideline policy for universities

HEC announces new guideline policy for universities

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced a new ‘guideline policy’ for institutions following the government’s decision to close universities from November 26 to January 10 and continue education through online or hybrid means.

According to the details, a statement issued by the HEC on Thursday said that in the light of government directives, the Vice Chancellors (VCs) have been empowered to ensure that procedures and security arrangements are in place ‘to allow small groups of “essential” individuals on campus’.

It added that only certain types of students could be allowed on campus. This may include low-income students who may not have access to the Internet or may have difficulty communicating at home due to lack of proper equipment. Foreign students, PhD or M.Phil or final year students who need to use laboratories to complete their dissertation and medical students in their third year or more who need medical training.

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The HEC said that the number of students allowed to come to the campus should not exceed 30% of the total registered students or the number would be less as per the conditions of the campus. Similarly, the VC may allow faculty members to come to campus to deliver or prepare their online lectures.

Exams scheduled for December 2020 have been postponed, but other entrance exams, including Medical & Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT), recruitment exams or pre-arranged short exams have been exempted. If it is absolutely necessary to conduct examinations, they can be conducted in strict compliance with all health and safety protocols.

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The new guideline on hostels states that the VCs have the option to stay in a limited number of hostels and that the ban must be enforced. It states that only students in the required category will be allowed. The number of students shall not exceed 30% of the design capacity of the hotel (or less if the health experts allow it).

In this regard, it has been said that all standard operating procedures should be strictly enforced. Take appropriate measures, including isolating university hostel residents to protect them from external infections. In addition, universities will develop rules regarding the presence of faculty members or staff on campus.

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All Vice Chancellors and Heads of Institutions will ensure that the concessions given by the government are used in a fair manner. The statement said that the HEC has released Rs 10 million each to all public sector universities to help them in setting up the necessary support arrangements to improve the quality of online education process.

In addition, universities may recruit senior, technology-savvy students to assist faculty members with technology-related issues involved in online education.

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In addition, the Higher Education Commission has set up a Covid Response Oversight Committee to co-operate with the VCs in their respective fields, clarify questions or concerns, share best practices and monitor implementation. The committee is headed by Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr. Niaz Akhtar.

The committee will also hold discussions with the relevant provincial governments to ensure co-ordinated and co-operative action.

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