HEC Pakistan under severe financial crunch, multiple scholarships programmes under threat

HEC Pakistan under severe financial crunch, multiple scholarships programmes under threat
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ISLAMABAD - A special meeting of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Friday, under the Chairmanship of its chairman Dr Tariq Banuri, reviewed the implications of ongoing fiscal crisis for the higher education sector, and in particular the budgetary projections for the fiscal year 2019-20.

The commission was informed that the projected recurring budget demand of the higher education institutions for 2019-20 was Rs103.55 billion, while development demand was Rs 55 billion; however the sector could face unprecedented budget cuts of upto 50 per cent, a press release said.

“If this turns out to be true, it will bring about a massive disruption in the provision of facilitated higher education and conduct of research,” the commission underscored.

The commission expressed grave concerns about these indications, and called upon the quarter concerned to ensure that adequate resources were provided to higher education institutions.

The commission directed the chairman to undertake a sensitivity analysis of alternative budgetary scenarios, with a view to ensure that essential programmes are not slashed, especially those that sustain the quality of undergraduate education in the country.

The commission also urged vice chancellors to invest in greater efficiency and transparency, and identify possible austerity measures which ensure that resources were used most effectively.

The HEC decided to accelerate the deployment of the Higher Education Management Information System in order to enhance transparency and enable increased efficiency.

It directed the chairman to establish a fund raising programme for higher education including mobilization of resources from alumni, philanthropists, industry and by attracting a broader array of students including students from foreign countries.

It requested the chairman to arrange meetings of commission members with the high management of the government. However, the commission directed the chairman to request provincial governments to enhance their support for higher education, including supplementary finances for universities.

The meeting was attended Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Dr Faisal Bari, Prof Nisar Siddiqui, Dr Naveed Malik, Engr Ahmed Farooq Bazai, Dr Javeid Iqbal, Dr Bhawani Shankar Chowdhry, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, and representatives of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training as well as provincial governments.

Pakistan