QAU grapples with severe financial crunch

Staff association expects Rs5b bailout package to secure academia, students’ fate

Our Correspondent May 19, 2024
As many as 11 teachers of Islamabad’s Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) have figured among the top two per cent researchers but the institute is in financial crunch. PHOTO:EXPRESS/FILE


The premier educational institution in the country, the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) is presently facing a severe financial crisis that threatens its normal functions and operations, painting a bleak picture of its future. The president of the Academic Staff Association, Dr Mazhar Iqbal has recently highlighted the urgent need for intervention during a recent discussion on the university’s financial position with the Rs5 billion bailout package.

Founded in 1967 as the Islamabad University and later named the Quaid-i-Azam University after the founder of the nation on his centennial birthday in 1976, the leading institution stands as the only federal university with a charter to cater to the students from all the federating units including GB, AJK, and urban and rural areas of all the four provinces.

Initially, QAU was envisioned as a research university with MPhil and PhD programmes till the early 80s and later MSc programmes were offered and finally the Bachelor of Science (BSc) was introduced in 2012. Today, QAU has approximately 12,000 students enrolled representing all the federating units of the country in its four faculties and nine research institutes and centres.

The university has earned a stellar reputation in teaching and research and has been consistently ranked as the number one university in the country according to the Higher Education Commission (HEC). QAU has achieved a notable place on the global stage as well as it stood at 315th position in 2024, according to the QS World University Rankings.

In 2017, the then federal minister for Education and Professional Training Engr Muhammad Balighur Rehman declared QAU as the flagship institution of the country, congratulating the faculty, staff, students and alumni for securing a place in the top 500 universities of the world. The university has improved its global ranking significantly since.

Despite the achievements, QAU has long been grappling with severe financial challenges. Government funding through the HEC has proved insufficient and become stagnant, whereas the costs have soared due to staggering inflation over the past several years. As a result, the university faces a budget deficit of approximately Rs800 million (over 20%). Since January 2023, payments for teaching, lab chemicals and consumables, students’ fellowships, medical bills, and even office stationery have been kept pending.

Dr Mazhar Iqbal has urgently appealed to the president, prime minister, federal minister for education and professional training, HEC chairman and the chancellor of the university to provide a special grant and bailout package to avert the impending financial collapse and to increase the higher education budget in general.

“QAU usually receives disproportionally low financial support from the government. The university’s performance over time justifies a bailout package of Rs5 billion in line with the manifesto of the PML-N regarding higher education funding based on performance,” he said, adding with adequate support, QAU could continue its trajectory towards becoming one of the top 100 universities globally, contributing significantly to Pakistan’s educational and research landscape.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2024.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ