The Express Tribune. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has now been attesting degrees online, besides carrying out registration for about 20,000 degree programmes, in order to curb increasing fraudulent practices.
Set up some 15 years ago, the HEC is widely criticised for its ill-managed and orthodox degree verification process whereby it was fairly easy for people to get fake degrees attested.
With the HEC recently announcing to go online while shunning the manual system of registration and degree verification, the applicants can now apply for the purpose online.
The applicant may now fill an online application form and upload his or her scanned documents. After submission, the application will be scrutinised online by the HEC. The applicant will then receive an email or SMS to schedule his visit at the HEC head office in Islamabad or its regional centres in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
On the scheduled date, the applicant will be required to bring all original documents along with a copy of each, and receive attested degrees within a short time.
If an applicant sent someone else to the HEC office, that person should carry an authority letter duly signed by the applicant.
The applicants can also get their degrees attested through courier service. In this case, they will select the mode of attestation and submit documents and fee with the courier company concerned.
For PhD applicants, the verification is a two-step process. From dashboard, applicants will be required to go to the ‘PhD Country Directory’ and the system will make a search on the basis of their CNICs or email addresses. The user will then add PCD serial number and fill in the data verification form. The HEC will then verify record for subsequent attestation.
Applicants can also re-schedule their visits if they are unable to visit the required venues on prescribed time. The new system also provides the facility of tracking the application online.
The new system for degree attestation has been directly linked with the Pakistan Qualification Register (PQR). Unless a degree programme is listed in PQR, the applicant will not be able to proceed for attestation.
In this case, the applicant can contact the focal person of his or her university seeking entry to the programme in PQR. The list of focal persons is also available on the portal.
According to HEC, the new system lists more than 20,000 degree programmes in PQR, which is an online database containing a list of HEC-approved degree programmes offered by public and private sector universities, including their sub-campuses and affiliated and constituent colleges.
The register has also been linked with various HEC programmes and initiatives, including attestation of degrees, local and overseas scholarships, appointment of HEC-approved supervisors, award of national research grants and thematic research grants for social sciences.
Although a majority of universities are completing the process proactively, but the response of some universities is slow. Streamlining the processes will save students from embarrassment when they visit HEC for degree verification.