K-P universities entrenched in financial issues

Lack of government funding for salaries, research has landed the academic sector in a quandary

Wisal Yousafzai April 22, 2024
Education: 34 universities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) facing a surplus deficit. PHOTO: FILE


Whenever the country undergoes a period of economic downslide, the government begins its economizing plan by conveniently reducing the share of state resources allocated for the higher education sector however, such ill-planned frugality has come at the cost of the development and sustenance of academia in K-P, which is hanging loosely by the thread.

The matter of paltry financial resources allocated for the provincial higher education sector was brought to the fore in a letter written by Dr Jehan Bakht, Chairman of the University Campus Coordination Committee and the University of Agriculture, to the Chief Minister of K-P disclosing the fact that since the past six years several public universities in K-P including the University of Peshawar, Islamia College and the University of Agriculture among other educational institutions were facing severe financial deficits due to a lack of funding from the federal and provincial governments as a result of which a majority had failed to not only pay off the due salaries to their staff but also to maintain the fundamental administrative tasks of the institutions.

“The Islamia College, one of the classical universities in K-P, has been unable to pay off salaries for the months of May and June to its staff. In fact, salaries are always pending at the college. Given such financial issues, most of the teachers in public universities are now applying for jobs abroad to secure a better future for themselves since they are treated like slaves in the country,” revealed Shahnawaz Khan, Vice President of the Islamia College Teacher Association, who further informed that despite generating a revenue of 72 per cent, the budget of the college was fixed at 28 per cent.

Also read: K-P universities tackle financial woes

According to sources obtained by the Express Tribune from the Governor Secretariat for the financial year 2023 -2024, 34 universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) were facing a surplus deficit with the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar short on Rs977 million, the University of Peshawar in debt of Rs469.54 million, Gomal University D. I. Khan requiring Rs434 million and the University of Agriculture in need of Rs187.716 million. Furthermore, for all the 34 universities, at least Rs41 billion were required for routine expenditures while only Rs1 billion were available for funding research. The shift away from promoting research was evident in the declining share of resources directed towards research and development activities in K-P, with the federal grant for the University of Agriculture declining from Rs1365.279 million in 2022 to Rs993.73 million in 2023. Similarly, the federal grant for the Islamia College declined from Rs447.318 in 2022 to Rs446.2 million in 2023.

“The faculty of universities and education experts in K-P were hoping that after the democratic government was elected they would address the issues faced by teachers in addition to resolving the financial problems of the universities. We will soon write a letter to the higher education minister to urge him to add only those individuals in our committee who are related to the education department,” said President of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FPWASA) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Speaking to the Express Tribune on the matter, Meena Khan Afridi, Minister for Higher Education said, “The provincial government is serious about resolving the financial problems plaguing the faculty of universities. We will soon call a meeting for the amendment of the Universities Act of 2012 for the betterment of our education sector. Once the amendment is made after consultation with all the relevant stake holders, it will be passed in the K-P assembly.”


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