Universities should provide consultancy for self-reliance: Secretary Punjab HED

Punjab Higher Education Department Secretary Ahmad Raza Sarwar said on Wednesday that higher education institutions could create significant funds if their faculty and students provided consultancy for self-reliance services to the government.

Research culture in Pakistan is lacking mainly because of English language barrier

Punjab Higher Education Department Secretary Ahmad Raza Sarwar said on Wednesday that higher education institutions could create significant funds if their faculty and students provided consultancy for self-reliance services to the government.

He said this at Arfa Software Technology Park during a Punjab Higher Education Commission award ceremony for universities in Punjab for improving their Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2023. Up to 15 universities in Punjab, both public and private, were listed among the top 1,200 in the world.

The universities that climbed up the ranking ladder include Government College University Faisalabad; University of Management and Technology; University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila; University of Agriculture, Faisalabad; Islamia University of Bahawalpur; University of Lahore; University of Punjab; Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan; University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore; University of Gujrat; PMAS Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi; University of Sargodha; the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore; Government College University, Lahore, and Lahore College for Women’s University.

According to the secretary, the government would spend billions each year on consulting studies, design, and supervision. Mr Sarwar questioned why the government would commission a road design from their own design agency when the province has an engineering university.

“There is no need to hire a consultant for education, health, and other sectors. We also don’t need to have a chief architect, and a research institution if the universities are competing for the research fund,” he said, adding that universities should not be content with the grants of the government but rather win and earn them through competitive means.

“The human resource of our universities is better than foreign qualified consultants. I like you doing it to earn money.” He stressed that it is imperative to engage faculty and students and hire their consultancy for self-reliance.

Mr Sarwar added he would try to convince the Planning and Development chairman and the government to consult universities for consultancies, including feasibility and design tasks.

“We will make appropriate amendments to laws.”

About finances, he said the department had received complaints about everyone in all universities. “You know the reason is universities don’t have the right people to tell them how to run the finances in an atmosphere which is constitutionally determined in Pakistan,” he said.

He said the universities would need government finance people to guide them about PPRA rules, financial allocations and sanctioned new expenditures. “All this stuff would make you more efficient and less vulnerable to inquiries and probes going against the administrators of the universities,” he said.

Originally published at the Dawn