HEC introducing NEW competency-based undergraduate education system across Pakistan next year

The new system will be implemented in 2021.

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After undertaking extensive consultations for 18 months with over 1,000 individuals in 143 universities on ‘measures to enhance student success’, The HEC has come to a conclusion: revamping of the undergraduate curriculum by the introduction of a ‘competency-based education’.

What is competency-based education?

All universities and affiliated colleges across Pakistan will be subject to The HEC’s new curriculum. The competency-based framework will apply to all undergraduate degrees, including the four-year Bachelor Studies degree (B.S.), the profession degrees (MBBS, B.E., LLB, and the like), as well as the two-year Associate Degree (A.D.).

Chairman HEC, Dr. Tariq Banuri, stated:

The purpose of education is to enable students to succeed in their future life – not only in their jobs but also in their social, political, and personal endeavors. Universities have to maximize the probability of such success, primarily through the undergraduate degree programs.

According to The Chairman HEC, the new system will be implemented in the coming year. This system will ensure that the educational programs orient themselves with 21st-century skills and students’ future needs, which will positively impact educational achievement and future success.

New curriculum

The new curriculum will focus on interpersonal and behavioral attributes. It aims to teach students the application of acquired knowledge and skills to life’s challenges, by emphasizing curiosity, discovery, and creativity.

Under the new curriculum, every undergrad student will complete General Education (G.E.) courses in the major domains of human knowledge/generalization in their earlier semesters, before moving on to required departmental courses in their areas of specialization (also called Majors).

The purpose of this sequencing is to provide the students with flexibility in their specialization. This flexibility means that students will have the autonomy to study different things and graduate either with a single Major or a double Major, or a Major plus one or two Minors.

Practical experience mandatory for graduation

The new curriculum addresses potential employers’ concerns by making the practical experience compulsory for graduation.

The practical experience will comprise of a summer internship in an actual work environment, an additional real-world life skill (entrepreneurship and business development, civic engagement and network building) or sports and competitions, and similar extracurricular activities (business incubation centers (BICs), student clubs, green clubs, sports, or university magazines).

All the practical work will be evaluated and included in the students’ records. However, it will not be graded because the sole purpose is to equip students with essential life skills (effective writing and communication, introduction to quantitative analysis, etc.).

Possible for students to switch between degree programs

The revamped undergraduate program will allow students to change between degree programs by transferring credits and hours (of completed courses and completed practical experience). The only condition is meeting the admissions criteria of the new institution and the new program.

The HEC understands that revamping the curriculum alone cannot improve the quality of undergraduate education. Simultaneous investments are needed for effective teaching and meaningful quality assurance too. Thus, the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) has been established, and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is being revamped.

World Bank-funded Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP), a five-year project (2019/20 – 2023/24) being implemented by the HEC, has extended partial support to the implementation of the new curriculum. The Postsecondary Education Reform Unit (PERU) of the HEC is taking the lead in improving the teaching and learning component of HEDP. This project aims to support:

Research excellence in strategic sectors of the economy, improve teaching and learning, and strengthen governance in higher education.

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