Author Topic: Cut in grants leaves public sector varsities in lurch  (Read 1360 times)

Offline AKBAR

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Cut in grants leaves public sector varsities in lurch
« on: January 26, 2009, 11:09:54 AM »
Cut in grants leaves public sector varsities in lurch

F.P.Report PESHAWAR: The slash in grants of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and public sector universities by the government in the wake of global financial crisis remained the hottest academic debate since last six month. The shortage of funds compelled vice chancellors (VCs) of public sector universities of the country to publicly demand the government support the institutions of higher learning on the plea that academic and research projects were being adversely affected. Nevertheless owing to cuts in funding, the commission had to withhold various scholarships of students who were all set to proceed abroad to pursue academic endeavours at international universities. At present, the HEC has withheld all new scholarships while new projects of universities are not being considered. According to sources in the HEC, the government has released only 20 per cent of the development grants during last year. They further said a slash of Rs 3.2 billion was made which added to the problems of the universities. It is generally believed that resignation of Dr Atta-ur-Rehman from chairmanship of the HEC is also linked to poor funding of universities from the government. The last year was considered quite decisive in connection with private universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) which did not meet the minimum criteria as it was announced that all such institutes would be closed down. Surprisingly, not a single university or HEIs was closed down, as almost all institutes strived hard to meet the minimum criteria laid down by the federal cabinet. It is pertinent to mention here that a couple of years ago the HEC had launched a campaign against substandard universities and HEIs and, in this connection, it had even published "Parents Alert" advertisement in national newspapers. The entry test system for admission to medical colleges and engineering universities also drew criticism and huge attention of the public. The government earlier expressed its will to revert to open merit policy however later it was decided admissions to such institutes would be made on the basis of entry test system. However, government had set up a four-member Cabinet Committee few days back to review all Higher Education Commission (HEC) projects including the establishment of Pak-China University, sources informed. The Committee includes Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance, Economic Affairs & Revenue Hina Rabbani Khar, Special Assistant to PM on Social Sector Shehnaz Wazir Ali, former deputy chairman Planning Commission M Salman Farooqi and Education Secretary Jehangir Bashir, an HEC sources stated. The projects have not been shelved but would be executed after the availability of funds, the sources, added. He said priority would be given to those 7,000 students who are already availing scholarships.