ISLAMABAD:14 June: A special meeting of vice chancellors from public universities was held on Wednesday at Higher Education Commission (HEC) auditorium to discuss challenges being faced by the higher education sector in Pakistan. Vice Chancellors’ Committee Chairman Engineer Imtiaz Hussain Gilani presided over the meeting.
The vice chancellors expressed concern the funds for the fourth quarter of financial year 2011-12, including Rs 4.6 billion recurring and Rs 6.8 development funds have not been released so far. The remaining recurring budget of Rs 4.6 billion will cater to the 50 percent increase in salaries that was announced by Prime Minster Yousaf Raza Gilani for this financial year. In this regard, the Finance Division has issued letter to the HEC that the federal government will provide the additional Rs 4.6 billion to the universities during the fourth quarter. As a result, the universities have incurred huge liabilities and had borrowed from banks and diverted funds from other budget heads to pay the salaries at the enhanced rate with the hope that the same would be provided by the federal government as per its promise. Further, thousands of scholars pursuing PhD degrees abroad would be adversely affected as a result of non-release of development funds amounting Rs 6.8 billion for the last quarter of this financial year. It is feared that non-release of payment of tuition fee and stipend of these scholars will create huge embarrassment for the government of Pakistan across the world. Non-release of development funds will also adversely affect the ongoing development projects, especially in the newly built and rural-based universities established in the far-flung areas.
The vice chancellors also said that the provincial governments had also refused to extend financial support to the universities as they consider that it was the responsibility of federal government untill 2014. The education-friendly democratic government will revisit this critical issue and ameliorate the financial crisis by taking corrective measures and honour their commitments to the education sector, the vice chancellors hoped. However, the VCs are also concerned that funds, including salaries for university employees, are not released in time, the situation can take a bad turn. During the meeting, it was further resolved that public sector universities will not be able to pay 20 percent increase in salaries proposed in the new budget as the federal government has not yet released the previously increased 50 percent and 15 percent increase in salaries as per its promise. The HEC has already apprised of the ongoing financial crisis of the higher education sector in Pakistan to the president, prime minister, Senate chairman and governor/chancellors of respective provinces.Daily Times.