PESHAWAR: After March 31, thousands of students receiving higher education as private candidates would no longer be able to pursue their education, as the Higher Education Commission (HEC) ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa universities to stop enrolling private students for BA and MA exams.
However, according to sources, HEC and universities in the province have not created any alternative scheme for private students who are in service or have been unable to gain admission to colleges and universities for various reasons.
This scribe gathered data from a few of the 30 public sector universities, according to which 30,000 students appeared as private candidates in the Bachelor of Arts (BA) examination conducted last year by Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, 25,000 students at Peshawar University, 20,450 at Bannu University and more than 11,000 appeared in the exam conducted by Gomal University Dera Ismail Kha Kha
HEC has stopped universities from enrolling them without devising alternative system
In the Master of Arts (MA) exams, the same number of private applicants have participated, said the sources.
They said HEC started obtaining education as private candidates at BA and MA level as a supplement for the four-year Bachelor of Studies programme already introduced across the province.
Initially, HEC instructed universities not to enrol private candidates for the 31 December 2020 BA and MA exams. However, HEC extended the deadline until 31 March 2021 at the behest of the vice-chancellors of public sector universities, sources said.
Prof Iftikhar Ahmed, Vice-Chancellor of Gomal University, told Dharti News that HEC did not have any specific instructions for students who had already earned BA/BSc degrees and wanted to obtain routine admission to MA/MSc or were waiting as private candidates for exams.
Similarly, he said, HEC also did not have any guidance for students who appeared in third year BA/BSc exams and would participate in next year’s 4th year exams in addition to those who were waiting for results from 4th year BA/BSc exams.
With the adoption of the HEC verdict, I fear we will be incorrect to challenge the government’s access to education policy, and the future will be at risk for thousands of private students,” said Prof Iftikhar.”
He said that through a unanimously passed resolution, the vice-chancellors of all public sector universities in the province had asked HEC to extend the phasing out of BA/BSc and MA/MSc to 2023.
Professor Iftikhar said that universities facing acute financial difficulties have used the fees received from private applicants to raise 33% of their income from their own capital.
He said students in Karachi have repeatedly staged protest demonstrations against the HEC verdict.
He said it was also in breach of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in which it was binding for the government to provide access to education for students to discourage students from accessing private education. He said that at BA and MA level, the number of private students was equivalent to normal students.
Owing to their quality of work, un-affordability of college and university tuition and lack of access to colleges and universities, students usually opt for private education,” he said.”
Prof Iftikhar said about the private girl students that conservative families did not encourage their female members to leave homes for college, so it was a good choice for them to receive education as private candidates.
A senior official at Peshawar University told Dharti News that in 2010, UoP had introduced distance education for students who were unable to continue their standard education.
He said that at district level, UoP had already developed its centres, but HEC stopped the distance education programme in 2017, calling it poor quality.