ISLAMABAD: Faculty members of 72 public sector universities have decided to go on strike against the suspension of funds to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) by the federal government.
Vice Chancellors (VCs) of the universities and representatives of the government on Tuesday were unable to reach a solution with regards to the issue of funding. The maiden meeting was presided over by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission.
During the meeting both sides discussed various options to resolve the dispute over the blocking of development funds and the government’s indecision about bearing the cost of an extra Rs7 billion on account of a 50 per cent raise in employees’ salaries since July 1. Since no decision was reached, faculty members of the universities will go on strike today (Wednesday) in order to protest against the non-payment of salaries,
“The meeting was held in an amicable atmosphere and the statements of locking the universities was the brainchild of political minds,” said Dr Nadeem ul Haq, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission.
The government has cut HEC’s funds in the wake of fiscal constraints. The government has allocated Rs15.8 billion for the HEC for the current year, an amount which is Rs19 billion less than that needed and is under threat of reduction.
So far the government has only released Rs1.4 billion of this amount, all of which is going towards human resources while no money has yet been released for scholarships as a result of which the future of 14,000 PhD students, 5,000 of whom are studying abroad, is at stake.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2010.