Immediate bailout package sought for HEC

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In view of the serious financial constraints and lack of faculty in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s public sector universities, members of the standing committees of Senate and provincial assembly on higher education and vice-chancellors of difference varsities Thursday urged the government to enhance the recurrent budget of higher education from Rs55 billion to Rs1 trillion as an immediate bailout package.

Senate’s standing committee members headed by Senator Abul Nabi Bangash, State Minister for Education Balighur Rehman, Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Mukhtar, Federal Secretary Education Muhammad Ahsan Raja visited the provincial metropolis and participated in a daylong discourse on the status of higher education at the University of Peshawar and later the attended the meeting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s standing committee on Higher Education.

In the dialogue at the University of Peshawar, the participants of the meeting observed that the bailout package, which they recommended, would not only save the universities from a total collapse, but would also strengthen the quality of higher education. This would also result in provision of better facilities to students and researchers, they added.

Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Education, Training and Standards in Higher Education Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash, who chaired the dialogue, expressed grave concern over the prolonged delay in establishment of Fata University. He observed that Rs500 million had already been allocated for the project, but even a site for it could not be identified so far.

He also expressed concern over the lack of scholarships for the tribal students studying in different universities of the province and other parts of the country.He said some 3000 tribal students were studying in the University of Peshawar only, but the annual scholarship for them issued from the offices of the political agents was less than Rs500,000.

Vice-chancellors of nine universities presented an overview and the financial problems faced by the varsities.Dr Mukhtar said that a sum of Rs55 billion was allocated for higher education, which was not enough in view of the financial needs of the institutes of higher education. “Even the designated sum has not been released to the HEC for the fiscal year 2013-14,” he added.

UoP Vice-chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Rasul Jan talked about the prime minister’s fee reimbursement scheme. He said only 1400 of the total 3000 tribal students of the university would benefit from the scheme. He added that the scheme was not extended to self-finance students. The minister of state for Higher Education assured that the remaining students would also be provided the facility.

Meanwhile, it was observed in the meeting of Standing Committee on Higher Education that the Higher Education Commission’s financial constraints and lack of faculty were hitting universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hard.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, who attended the meeting, said the provincial government should allocate more funds for the higher education. Provincial Minister for Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani said the KP government, despite facing budget deficit, had decided to increase allocations for higher education by billions.

Speaker Asad Qaiser, who chaired the meeting, also urged the chairman HEC to pay special attention to the province that had been badly affected by terrorism.Haripur University Vice Chancellor Nasir Ali Khan said Punjab got 44 per cent of the scholarship and if federal capital Islamabad’s universities clubbed with it, the percentage went up to 66 per cent.

Source: The News.