18th Amendment, Devolution of Power and Institutional Autonomy of Higher Education in Pakistan: Stakeholders’ Perceptions
This phenomenological study aimed to explore the impact of devolution of power, after18th Amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan, affecting the institutional autonomy of Higher education institutions (HEIs) of Punjab in terms of; academic, organizational, and financial autonomy. By this devolution of power, key stakeholders affected are the Federal Higher Education Commission (FHEC) Islamabad, the Provincial Higher Education Commissions of all provinces of Pakistan, (PHEC Punjab in our case), along with academia and governing bodies of HEIs (public universities in our case). Resource Dependence Theory (RDT) was used as the theoretical framework to examine the varying relationships of dependence between actors (FHEC) who control resources and actors (PHEC and HEIs) who need these resources. Purposive sampling was used to sample respondents from FHEC, PHEC, and three public universities of Punjab for the semi-structured interviews, obtaining triangulation of sources. Perspectives thus gathered were analyzed and categorized into themes. The results have highlighted that aim of devolution has not been realized, and abridgment between policymakers, regulators, and the university representatives for the implementation of devolution should be properly addressed for the collective benefits of all stakeholders. It is a pioneer study and it is hoped that the recommendations suggested by stakeholders would be helpful to the policymakers for the overall improvement of the standard of higher education.