LAHORE :September 25:A number of private universities have reacted to recent notification of Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab wherein the department had barred 18 institutions from offering admissions in unapproved/unaccredited programmes observing that the notification was untimely. In a letter to Nabeel Awan, Secretary HED Punjab, the Rector of University of Lahore Dr Mujahid Kamran while referring to Sept 14 meeting of Vice Chancellors/Rectors of private sector universities with Secretary HED and Chairman of Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin, said the minutes of the said meeting were never circulated among the meeting participants therefore issuance of the notification was ‘contrary to standard practice’. It is pertinent to mention here that in the recent notification the HED while referring to the same meeting had directed 18 private universities/degree awarding institutions not to give admission to any student in unapproved faculties, departments or programmes of their respective institutions. In his letter, a copy available with The News, Dr Kamran claimed as per the meeting it was clear that the approval of the Patron, i.e. the Governor Punjab, for ongoing programmes would be obtained in 4-6 weeks and only then, if any programmes were not granted approval, would an intervention be required. He also added Chairman PHEC, who wished to allow the programmes to continue till the approval of the Patron is obtained, was not consulted and/or kept in the loop. Dr Kamran requested the Secretary HED to either withdraw the notification or at least amend the same in the spirit of, what he termed, the understanding arrived at in the Sep 14, 2017 meeting where it was clearly agreed that the HED will help in securing approval of requests for various programmes in 4-6 weeks. Pending the said approval admissions may be kindly allowed to continue, he added. Dr Kamran also said the University of Lahore’s Department of Pharmacy had already been provided for in the university’s Ordinance and it had simply requested that it be renamed Faculty of Pharmacy. “How can we be directed to stop admissions in Pharmacy,” he questioned. Similarly, he claimed, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry was allowed by the Patron with the condition that the degree be awarded by UHS. However, the Supreme Court had directed that the degree be awarded by the University of Lahore. The Punjab governor accordingly amended his approval in lines with the Supreme Court decision (Notification No. GS-DS(Impl) 2-17/2010-, dated 16.12.2011). So the direction to stop admissions in Medicine and Dentistry was also without any lawful basis. Meanwhile according to a press release, the University of Management & Technology (UMT) held a meeting attended by Rector Dr Muhammad Aslam, Director General Abid HK Shirwani, other officials concerned to discuss the issue. “The UMT Management strongly condemned the news leaking prior to the minutes of the meeting that took place on September, 14 participated by vice chancellors and rectors of the private-sector universities. The HED meeting aimed at discussing various accreditation issues and resolving concerns of the private varsities but before it would give any warning to its key stakeholders, the news was got published in print media,” reads the press release. While quoting Dr Aslam, it further reads “We had just started to work on the directive of HED to removing deficiencies and responding to their observations when unnecessarily news was got published in the press disappointing us.” Rector UMT said HED officials themselves admitted that not HED but Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and Punjab Higher Education Commission were the major authorities to grant accreditation to the faculty, curriculum and degree programmes of both public and private institutions. He said despite the fact there are several drawbacks and low quality in the public sector, only private-sector universities had been targeted, that was not a good gesture to carry out the work smoothly and in accordance with law. The rector also claimed all UMT degree programmes from business to engineering, computer sciences, and architecture etc and their curriculum were formally approved by all professional bodies. Interesting the UMT press release termed the report “counterfeit”.Khalid Khattak adds: The UMT management termed the news report “counterfeit” even without realising that the report carried by The News was based on the notification issued by the HED Punjab on Sept 22, 2017. This correspondent stands by his story.The news.