Advocacy

APSUP has assumed the vital responsibility of championing the pressing concerns confronting private sector higher education in Pakistan. Employing a resolute and cooperative strategy, APSUP has solidified its position as a driving influence in interacting with governmental authorities and regulatory bodies overseeing higher education. Thanks to its unwavering advocacy efforts, substantial headway has been made, leading to tangible outcomes in the shape of several impactful initiatives. The groundbreaking advocacy endeavours undertaken in this endeavour encompassed the following:

Appealing to the government for a re-evaluation of anti-higher education policies

APSUP took a significant step towards engaging with the highest authorities in the government, including the then Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan, Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, and Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Usman Buzdar, in order to draw their attention to the detrimental impact of negative policies on the higher education sector in Pakistan. In an earnest plea to the Prime Minister, Governor of Punjab, and Chief Minister of Punjab, APSUP voiced its concerns regarding the ill-considered policies enforced by regulatory authorities in higher education. These policies had the potential to wreak havoc by undermining private sector universities and endangering the future of countless students.

Revolutionizing Higher Education

APSUP’S CALL FOR REPRESENTATION IN THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE OF CABINET
APSUP, on recognizing the bureaucratic delays faced by private sector universities in Punjab, spearheaded a collective effort to address these concerns. The repercussions of these delays, including financial losses and damaged goodwill, prompted APSUP to advocate for fair representation in the Special Committee of Cabinet on Higher Education. It was emphasized that the committee must include APSUP members, who are already part of the Higher Education Reforms Committee, to ensure a comprehensive and effective decision-making process.

Driving inclusive policymaking in consultation with private sector higher education stakeholders

One of the remarkable achievements of APSUP’s advocacy efforts is the inclusion of private sector higher education stakeholders in the strategic policy development process, which historically had been limited to representatives from public sector organizations and HEIs alone. Traditionally, the private sector was completely excluded from policy consultations. However, as a result of the relentless advocacy carried out by APSUP, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) recognized the importance of comprehensive consultations with the faculty and deans of private sector universities regarding the Undergraduate Policy and the PhD Degree Program of 2020. Subsequently, all provincial chapters of APSUP were invited to provide their valuable feedback and recommendations to the HEC management. Building on this progress, the higher education sector has ushered in a new era of policy making that embraces a more inclusive and holistic approach to shaping the future of higher education.

Apsup requested government of Pakistan to provide the corona vaccination facility for teachers and staff during 3rd wave of the covid-19 pandemic

To save the higher education sector from long term halts and potential health hazards, apsup took the lead and requested government of pakistan to provide the corona vaccination facility for teachers and staff during 3rd wave of the covid-19 pandemic. Since, the private sector higher education institutions 85 private sector universities with 31 regional campuses across pakistan were catering millions of students in the pandemic time, it was need of time to consider education as front-line for continuous socio-economic growth of the country. In this context, plea for preferred vaccination was made to the prime minister.

Appeal for timely commencement of autumn semester 2021

Apsup took the lead and expressed concerns regarding the delayed start of admissions for the autumn semester of 2021. The government’s delay in initiating the admissions process was causing financial sustainability issues for private sector universities. These universities heavily rely on timely admissions to ensure a steady stream of students and revenue. Apsup recognized the significance of starting the admissions process on time for the autumn semester. They understood that any further delays would not only affect their financial stability but also disrupt the academic schedules of the students. Additionally, it could lead to a loss of prospective students who may opt for other institutions with earlier admission deadlines. By raising concerns and highlighting the importance of timely admissions, apsup aimed to prompt the government to take necessary actions and expedite the admissions process. They may have engaged in discussions, negotiations, or advocacy efforts with relevant government authorities to emphasize the needs of the private sector universities and the students they serve. The ultimate goal of apsup’s initiative was to ensure that private sector universities could admit students for the autumn semester in a timely manner, allowing them to continue their operations smoothly and sustainably.

Establishment of the education reforms committee

As a result of APSUP’s relentless efforts and close engagement with the government of Punjab, a significant complaint was raised, shedding light on the severe flaws and dysfunction within the higher education department. These issues had created a climate of dominance, totally suppressing the voices and rights of private sector higher education institutions.
APSUP specifically highlighted several inappropriate actions taken by the Higher Education Department (HED). A sheer need to address the long-standing matters such as the regularization of faculties and departments in private sector universities was emphasized, as well as the need for swift resolution of accreditation issues was highlighted. Additionally, APSUP advocated for the introduction of a streamlined one-window solution to promptly address pending matters faced by private sector universities, and for the granting and protection of universities’ autonomy in accordance with their relevant charters.
In response to this compelling campaign, the higher education department and the government of Punjab established a “Higher Education Reforms Committee.” Prof. Dr. Ch. Abdul Rehman, Chairman of APSUP, represented all private sector higher education institutes of Pakistan as a member of this committee. It was within this platform that highly beneficial policies were formulated by the higher education department. The committee also ensured that bureaucratic delays and manipulations in matters of private sector universities’ regularization, and accreditations of faculties and departments were dealt with firmly.

The formation of this representative committee marks a tremendous success for advocacy efforts establishing that collaborative endeavours between private sector stakeholders and government bodies can enlighten the future of higher education in Pakistan.

Bill passed to preserve HEC autonomy

APSUP collectively drafted a declaration and passed a bill aimed at restricting the autonomy of the HEC. The bill garnered unanimous consent from all member universities, indicating a shared commitment to addressing perceived imbalances in the HEC’s decision-making processes. APSUP subsequently sent a letter to the Prime Minister, urging the government to limit the HEC’s authority, particularly in policy revisions and amendments. The letter emphasized the need for adherence to the Higher Education Ordinance 2002 by preserving its provisions. It was stressed that the amendments to the ordinance should only occur with input and consensus from higher education stakeholders, ensuring a collaborative approach to shaping education policies. This initiative aimed to promote transparency, accountability, and diverse perspectives in Pakistan’s higher education landscape. APSUP sought to ensure that the interests and concerns of all stakeholders are considered through inclusive decision-making. By safeguarding institutional integrity and autonomy, APSUP demonstrated its dedication to upholding the principles of the Higher Education Ordinance 2002 and fostering a collaborative environment.

Apsup showed concern over HEC amendment bill

APSUP expressed deep concerns over the recently proposed amendments to the Higher Education Commission Ordinance 2002. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, APSUP highlighted potential threats to the autonomy of higher education institutions and urged the Prime Minister to address these issues promptly. Dr Chaudhry Abdul Rehman, Chairman, APSUP, emphasised the need to safeguard autonomy and independence of universities for the advancement of academic excellence, research and innovation in Pakistan. It said the proposed amendments, as currently formulated, raise several critical concerns that could have far-reaching adverse consequences for the quality and growth of higher education. One of the key concerns raised by APSUP was the potential undermining of the HEC’s autonomy. The insertion of a new clause in Section 2, defining the “Division concerned,” had raised questions regarding the institution’s independence and the possibility of external control and influence.

APSUP Chairman urged Prime Minister for transparent appointment of the Chairman HEC

Prof. Dr. Ch. Abdul Rehman, the esteemed Chairman of the Association of Private Sector Universities of Pakistan (APSUP), penned a significant letter addressed to the controlling authority of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The core purpose of this letter was to advocate for a transparent and merit-based approach in appointing the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission. The letter underscored the critical role played by the private sector in Pakistan’s higher education sector. With APSUP representing 92 private sector universities and 34 regional campuses across the nation, catering to over 40% of students in higher education, it emphasized the need for a fair and unbiased selection process. Prof. Dr. Abdul Rehman’s appeal aimed to uphold the integrity and inclusivity of the higher education landscape in Pakistan.

Apsup stakeholders advocate education emergency &
4% GDP allocation for education

In preparation for the 2nd Rector’s Conference 2021, APSUP hosted a significant online panel discussion on the topic “Debating Pakistan Education Policy 2021.” The panel comprised esteemed stakeholders, including government officials from the Federal Ministry of Education and Professional Training, Vice Chancellors, and the Central President of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association. Together, they proposed essential recommendations to be included in the upcoming education policy announcement on 23rd March 2021. The event was organized collaboratively by Superior University, the Association of Private Sector Universities Pakistan (APSUP), the Inter University Consortium for Promotion of Social Sciences Pakistan (IUCPSS), the University of Lahore, and Government College University Lahore. Among the recommendations, there was a unanimous consensus on declaring an education emergency, allocating at least 4% of GDP for education, and dedicating one-third of the education budget to universities. The panel also emphasized the need to discourage rote learning, enhance assessment at the intermediate level, respect and protect autonomy and academic freedom on university campuses, review recent undergraduate and PhD policies, and formulate policies in consultation with stakeholders. Additionally, they called for the introduction of a one-window procedure for charter awards, university recognition, and approval of new academic programs to eliminate lengthy delays. Encouraging the role of the private sector in enhancing access to higher education, effective student engagement through strengthened student societies/ clubs and directorates of student affairs, and the restoration of a 75% tax rebate for researchers were also highlighted. The participants jointly advocated for safeguarding the autonomy of universities, ensuring academic freedom, and providing adequate funding for the higher education sector in the new education policy.

Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman in a meeting with Chairman APSUP:
Emphasizing Technology-Driven Growth

In a meeting organized by the Association of Private Sector Universities of Pakistan (APSUP) at Islamabad Club, Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman, Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Task Force for Science and Technology, lauded the significant role played by private sector universities in advancing higher education. The event, attended by distinguished guests, including Dr. Shaista Sohail, Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission, and Prof. Dr. Ch. Abdul Rehman, Chairman of APSUP, focused on promoting technology-driven growth in the education sector. Dr. Ata-ur-Rehman advocated for the implementation of Open Distance Learning (ODL) programs across all universities and outlined strategies to boost the economy through enhanced allocations to higher education, digitalization, and AI education and skills. He also highlighted recent developments in Pakistan’s higher education sector, including the National Education Emergency, Dual Degree Policy, Distance Education Policy, University-Industry Interaction Policy, and the HEC Scholarship program worth Rs 13 billion.