Here are all the new HEC guidelines for universities and students amid COVID-19 second wave

All the large examinations planned for December 2020 have been postponed.

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  • In light of the second wave of Covid-19, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has announced a new policy guideline for the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
  • All academic institutions shall be closed from the 26th of November 2020 until the 24th of December 2020, during which lessons shall be delivered online.
  • The Vice-Chancellors of all HEC institutes have been authorized to allow a small group of ‘essential’ individuals on campus and in hostels, bearing in mind the strict implementation of SOPs.

HEC releases new set of guidelines for institutes as Covid-19’s second wave hits.

Following the government’s recent decision to continue education during the second wave of Covid-19, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has announced a new policy guideline for the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The new policy guidelines read:

All the Vice-Chancellors and heads of institutions shall ensure that the flexibility granted by the government is exercised judiciously, authorized at the highest level, and monitored and managed effectively and efficiently.

Institutes closing as Covid-19’s second wave hits.

Here are the new guidelines announced by the HEC for all universities and students:

Basic Guidelines

  • All academic institutions shall be closed from the 26th of November 2020 until the 24th of December 2020.
  • Institutes shall continue to deliver education through online or hybrid means or by assigning homework (especially if there are connectivity problems).
  • All academic institutions shall observe winter holidays from the 25th of December 2020 to the 10th of January 2021; institutes shall remain closed during this period.
  • Academic institutions shall reopen on the 11th of January 2021. It should be noted that a review meeting will be held during the first week of January 2021 to assess the coronavirus situation. The panel shall ascertain whether the institutes shall reopen on the said date or not.
Some essential students and faculty may be allowed on campus during Covid-19 Second Wave.

Students and Faculty Allowed on Campus

The Vice-Chancellors of all HEC institutes have been authorized to allow a small group of ‘essential’ individuals on campus, subject to the implementation of scrutiny mechanisms or safeguards. The specific categories of students allowed on campus include:

  • low-income students who may have connectivity problems at home because of lack of access to the internet or the availability of proper devices
  • foreign students
  • Ph.D. or MPhil students (or final year students) who need to use the laboratories to complete their thesis work
  • third year or higher medical students who need to obtain clinical training

It should be noted that the total number of students permitted to come to campus should not exceed 30 percent of the total enrollment (or a lower number if dictated by the campus conditions).

Similarly, the Vice-Chancellors of all HEC institutes have been authorized to allow faculty members to come to campus to deliver or prepare their online lectures.

HEC cancels all major examinations as Covid-19’s second wave hits.

Examinations

All the large examinations planned for December 2020 have been postponed, except:

  • assessment examinations, such as MDCAT
  • other entrance exams
  • recruitment exams
  • prescheduled small tests (e.g., less than 30 students)

The examinations mentioned above shall be conducted, if necessary, with strict observance of all health and safety protocols.

Hostel

The Vice-Chancellors of all HEC institutes have been authorized to allow only a limited occupancy of hostels, subject to the instructed restrictions. Only the students in the ‘essential’ categories are allowed in the hostels. It should be noted that the total number of students shall not exceed 30 percent of the design capacity of the hotels (or a lower number if dictated by health considerations).

On-Campus Guidelines

  • All academic institutes shall implement SOPs strictly and diligently.
  • All academic institutes shall observe appropriate measures, including isolating hostel residents (i.e., treating the hostel as a safe bubble) to protect them from external infection.
  • All academic institutes shall draw up rules regarding the presence of faculty members or staff on campus.
HEC constitutes a COVID Response Oversight Committee as Covid-19 second wave hits.

It is pertinent to mention that the HEC released Rs. 10 million each to all public sector universities to help them establish any supportive arrangements needed to improve the online education process’s quality. Moreover, the HEC has also constituted a COVID Response Oversight Committee to:

  • collaborate with the Vice Chancellors in their respective regions
  • clarify questions or concerns
  • share best practices
  • oversee implementation
  • interact with respective provincial governments and ensure synchronized and cooperative action

This Committee is headed by Dr. Niaz Akhtar, Vice-Chancellor Punjab University, and comprises:

  • Dr. Tabassum Afzal (for ICT), Vice-Chancellor COMSATS University Islamabad
  • Dr. Aslam Uqaili, Vice-Chancellor Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (for Sindh)
  • Dr. Abid Ali, Vice-Chancellor Peshawar University (for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
  • Engr. Farooq Bazai, Vice-Chancellor BUITEMS (for Balochistan)
  • Dr. Kaleem Abbasi, Vice-Chancellor AJK University (for AJK)
  • Dr. Naeem Khan, Vice-Chancellor Baltistan University (for Gilgit-Baltistan)

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