No more colleges to offer BS programmes

LAHORE: Punjab has decided to halt giving more public and private colleges the permission to offer the 4-year BS programme, designed to replace the 2-year BA programme, until the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) evaluates the current 4-year programmes being offered in the province.

This was decided in a meeting held at the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) on Sunday.

The meeting, minutes of which are available with The Express Tribune, decided that the process of granting the no objection certificate (NOC) for the 4-year BS degree programme at public and private sector colleges would be stopped. The meeting decided the step for the academic year 2017-18, for which the HED would issue a formal notification.

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Furthermore, the PHEC had been given the task to develop detailed evaluation criteria for colleges to allow the 4-year BS degree programmes. Whereas, the Directorate of Public Instructions (DPI) colleges had been tasked to prepare a detailed calendar based on the PHEC’s evaluation criteria. The DPI colleges had been told to develop clear timelines for each step for the processing of qualification of the 4-year degree programme.

When contacted, PHEC Director General Dr Shahid Soroya told The Express Tribune that the PHEC would evaluate the BS 4-year programmes currently being offered in different colleges of the province. The PHEC, apart from the 4-year BS programmes, had launched the community colleges initiative, where 2-year associate degree programmes in market-oriented subjects were being offered, he said.

He said that they would gauge the capacity of the colleges in the province and see after the completion of the evaluation where the 4-year BS programmes could be offered. “Where there will be the possibility of associate degree there a 2-year associate degree will be offered. Similarly, where a 4-year BS programme was feasible, there that will be offered. These decisions will be made in light of the evaluation process. The evaluation process will be launched immediately after the mutual consent of the HED.”

According to sources in the PHEC, the commission had tasked its Research Wing to carry out the evaluation process of colleges. The sources said that the 4-year programme could not be launched at every college in the province due to the requirements of faculty and labs. The PHEC was looking into its associate degree programme, currently being offered at four colleges of the province, as another replacement of the BA programme.

In Punjab the 4-year BS degree programme was launched in 26 colleges of the province, however, four of the colleges were later upgraded to universities. Now, 21 colleges in Punjab are offering the 4-year programme.

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The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) had asked to phase out the 2-year BA programme. In a letter sent to universities and degree awarding institutions (DAI) of the country, the HEC has asked them to comply with the orders of the commission and phase out the BA programme by 2018 and the MA programme by 2020. “The different titles for bachelor level degrees [BA and BSc] are creating confusion for employers, national and international organisations and the community as a whole,” the letter said.

It further said, “For streamlining, the HEC formed a committee comprising experts from different universities and other institutions to work on the possibility of phasing out BA/BSc programmes and to devise a mechanism to accommodate existing BA/BSc graduates into four-year programmes.”

“The matter was taken up in the meeting of the commission and was approved as a policy. Therefore, it needs to be communicated to all the universities/DAIs of Pakistan for implementation within all HEIs in letter and spirit. All universities/DAIs are advised to comply with the commission’s endorsement to recommendations of the committee, constituted for the purpose of phasing out BA/BSc and bridging the existing BA/BSc graduates.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2018.

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