Funds paucity putting higher education at stake

STAFF REPORT IBD: The higher education sector in Pakistan is increasingly being marginalised mainly due to the persistent lack of adequate funding from the central government, thus putting at stake the future of thousands of those getting higher education and the pace of the national progress as well.
Sources in the Higher Education Commission said that despite repeated requests, the federal government has not so far released the promised additional grant of Rs 4.6 billion for recurring expenditures and Rs 2.5 billion for development projects.
“The grants have not so far been released by the federal govt,” HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi cautiously confirmed this while taking told this scribe.
He, however, said that the government has assured the HEC of releasing funds soon.
Presently, the public sector universities which provide higher education to the masses are facing multiple problems in meeting the higher education expense of those studying in local as well as foreign universities.
The proposed reduction in PSDP by the Planning Commission of Pakistan will further impact growth which is 2 per cent for 2011-2012.
According to experts, in a country of 180 million people where 80 per cent are marginalised without any change in their lot, cut in PSDP has put a big question mark on the future of higher education.
While on the other side, in a recent meeting in Peshawar the HEC had refused to increase the salaries of the universities staff.
According to University of Science and Technology Bannu VC Asmatullah Khan, this decision would compel universities to increase tuition fees, which would ultimately create problems for students.
According to the official data, recurring grant approved for transfer to universities for financial year 2011-12 was 9 per cent (Rs2.46 billion) lower than the amount approved for the previous financial year, even though there was a 16 per cent increase in nominal GDP of Pakistan in financial year 2010-11.
Sources said that the HEC faced the same financial crunch last year, which was followed by a series of protest demonstrations in universities after which the government announced Rs5.8 billion supplementary grant.
The sources said those universities which had no resources to generate revenue were facing problems in paying salaries to their employees.
When contacted, Vice-Chancellor of the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai said efforts are underway to get the grant announced by the government in the fourth quarter of the financial year. In this regard, a meeting of the HEC and federal government officials concerned is scheduled to be held this week, he said.
Majority of the grant was given under the head of recurring sector, he said, adding the grant for development projects was ignored except for those schemes on which 80 per cent work had been completed.
The HEC has made some progress in aligning research priorities and research needs in Pakistan.
The Commissions biggest impact could be seen in the quantity of research produced in Pakistan. Between 2003 and 2009, over 3,000 doctoral dissertations were defended in Pakistan, which is a result of the HECs efforts to promote higher education.
STAFF REPORT IBD:

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Technology Times Web team handles all matters relevant to website posting and management.

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