Public sector universities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have been hit by yet another crisis as the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has refused to provide the funds required to increase staff salaries.
The decision was taken during a high level meeting of the HEC at its regional headquarters in Peshawar. The meeting was attended by all the vice chancellors (VCs) of public sector universities, during which HEC officials said that the federal government has yet to provide the funds required to increase salaries.
The government had announced a 15 per cent increase in salaries for public university employees in the federal budget 2011-12.
The VCs present at the meeting termed the decision “dreadful”, saying that the universities did not possess the additional funds to support the rise in salaries.
Institute of Management Sciences Director Professor Nasir Ali Khan said the institutions were already facing acute shortage of finances, and it was impossible for them to bear the additional burden.
“It is extremely regretful that the government is neglecting the HEC. We don’t understand why the government is pushing educational institutions into a financial crisis,” he added.
Malakand University VC Rasool Jan said that the VCs would meet K-P Governor Masood Kausar to resolve the issue. “We will protest on roads if the required funds are not provided by the federal government before August 1,” he added.
The meeting also criticised the reduction in the operational budget for public universities in the budget, terming it a “severe injustice to higher education”.
The HEC requested Rs31 billion for the operational budget. However, the government has approved only Rs24 billion, due to which universities are in financial distress.
University of Science and Technology Bannu VC Asmatullah Khan also expressed concern over the issue, saying that the decision taken by the HEC would compel universities to increase tuition fees, which would ultimately create problems for students.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2011.
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