LAHORE:23 January:Education is our top priority and the government is committed to improving the quality of college education at par with global standards. For this, we have introduced qualitative reforms in this sector. This was said by Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yassir Humayun Sarfraz while presiding over a “stakeholder conference on Higher Education Reforms” here on Wednesday at the University of Engineering and Technology. The conference was organised by the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC). Chairman PHEC Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Director Public Instruction (DPI) Colleges Jahangir Ahmad, vice-chancellors from as many as 26 public sector universities and principals from approximately 773 public sector colleges of Punjab attended the interactive conference aimed at garnering the constructive feedback on issues related to quality in higher education, effective management, coordination, and government policies on higher education. Addressing the vice-chancellors and principals, the minister for higher education clarified the misconceptions being circulated in social media or other public spheres, saying that colleges offering two-year degree programmes across the province were being renamed as Community College, however, no structural or administrative changes being introduced. “No public sector college is being handed over to Board of Governors or getting privatised. Change in nomenclature will neither increase tuition fees nor will affect the placement of college teachers, the minister clarified. He added that the colleges would be affiliated with the universities which would be responsible only in academic matters, however, administratively colleges would still fall under the domain of HED. The minister said that public sector colleges offering 4-year degree programs will be renamed as graduate colleges whereas those offering two-year degrees as community colleges. He added at least two colleges- one boys and one girls- in each district will be classified as graduate colleges which will be affiliated with the relevant district or divisional university. Stressing on the need of the community colleges, Raja Yasser Humayun said our curricula, in vogue in colleges, were lacking skills necessary for employability in the market, “the introduction of community colleges model will equip students with the market-driven skills along with theoretical knowledge which will widen the career prospects for the students” he added. To a question, the minister assured of empowering principals of public colleges by increasing funds, providing human resources and infrastructure in the colleges. Speaking on this occasion, Prof Dr Fazal Ahmad Khalid, Chairman PHEC, shared the vision, mission, and future roadmap, saying that PHEC was aimed at facilitating and regulating the higher education to ensure standards, quality of education and building institutions to promote teaching excellence, research and innovation in Punjab. We are addressing their problems and the challenges to college education and ensuring that our college education are the hub of knowledge economy”, he added. “The very conference aims at taking the stakeholders on board and seek their suggestions to improve this sector” he added. He maintained that the future roadmap of PHEC included various new initiatives including the establishment of new universities in the province, Punjab Academy of Higher Learning and Research, Punjab Research Fund, training programmes, and local and foreign scholarships.The news.