Vice chancellors of various public universities across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have agreed to follow the provincial government’s recommendations and adopt austerity measures.
Insiders familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune on Wednesday the varsities plan to cut expenditures and set their new agenda in accordance with available resources. The decision was taken a day after Minister for Information and Higher Education Mushtaq Ghani urged varsities to restrict their expenditures to the allocations within the budget for fiscal year 2015-16.
Chalking out a plan
Speaking to The Express Tribune, University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar Vice Chancellor Syed Imtiaz Hussain Gillani said all universities should develop a strategy for expenditure which does not put a strain on resources. He added, “Although the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the provincial government have supported public sector universities, they must also chalk out their own expenditure strategy.”
Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Vice Chancellor Dr Razia Sultana also vowed to adopt a similar strategy. “Our university was recently established,” she said. “That’s why HEC gave us full support and provided supplementary funds to develop the institute.”
According to Sultana, the new expenditure strategy will attract grants and increase the number of students at the varsity.
Hits and misses
However, University of Peshawar (UoP) Vice Chancellor Dr Rasool Jan voiced his reservations about the government’s recommendations.
“These directives can only be implemented at new universities,” he said. “Institutes which have existed for a longer period of time cannot reduce their expenditure.” According to Jan, UoP spends Rs50million on pension for its employees every month. “Also, we cannot increase our fees,” he added.
On Tuesday, Ghani had urged varsities to restrict their expenditures to allocations made in the budget for fiscal year 2015-16. He was speaking at a senate meeting attended by universities across the province.
According to Ghani, public sector universities need Rs29 billion to meet their spending requirements but the government was unsure where the money would come from.
According to Ghani, the government did not have enough resources to fund universities and only those institutes which effectively manage their expenses would be included within the budget. The minister insisted university administrations design resource-enhancement projects and devise legal documentation for better budget options.
Ghani also voiced concerns over the practice of employing an excessive number of staff members at universities. This placed an additional burden on resources, he added.
The senate session was attended by representatives of various universities in K-P, including University of Engineering and Technology Bannu, Khushal Khan Khattak University Karak, Bacha Khan University Charsadda and University of Haripur.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.