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Karachi university faculties research grants

No research grant for KU science students, teachers
Karachi, Aug 23: There seems to be an acute lack of planning on the part of the administration of Karachi University, which has not yet provided its faculties of science and pharmacy with any research grants for the year 2008-09, with the result that between 60 and 70 projects have failed to kick off on time while no masters or PhD students have been able to get individual research funding, it has been learnt.

The situation is ironic, especially for MS/PhD students as their admissions started last year after a gap of more than three years and, that too, with a manifold increase in their admission and monthly fees.

It is worth mentioning that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) provides universities with a lump sum for their recurring budget and it is up to the administration how they meet their departmental research and survey expenditure.

Last year, Karachi University received an amount of Rs790.038 million from the HEC against the proposed recurring budget of Rs1,086.074 million for the year 2008-09.

Out of the recurring budget, the arts faculty received Rs5 million and the Islamic faculty got Rs1 million. Not a rupee, however, could be released to the faculties of science and pharmacy where more extensive research takes place.

With 24 departments, the KU science faculty is the largest faculty in the university and has the lion's share in the research and survey grant.

Eleven research centres and institutes also function within the ambit of the faculty of science, although they have their own separate budgets.

According to sources, the prevailing ad hoc arrangement of affairs in the university is mainly responsible for the crisis. The faculties concerned did not send requests for the grant on time and the administration reserved no amount for their regular expenses.

The research and survey grants of 2008-09 of these faculties would now be paid from the quarterly recurring grant of 2009-10.Although the HEC has so far not provided the university with any supplementary grant for 15 to 20 per cent raise in salaries this year under the government announcement, the KU administration has increased staff salaries from its own resources. This is the third raise in salaries in three years, leading to a larger budget deficit.

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Lack of planning
Karachi: Teachers of the KU science faculty squarely blamed the university administration and the dean of the faculty of science for the delay in the release of the requested grant.

"Initially, teachers send their research projects to the dean's office for approval. Once projects are approved, the funds are usually released within two to three months. Last year, the process was started very late and too much time was consumed in projects' final approval," a teacher said.

The dean was strongly criticised by faculty teachers for seeking too many details about small research projects which were submitted twice last year and teachers were now finding it very difficult to run labs, he added.

However, Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi, the dean of the KU science faculty, said that she started the process of projects' approval as soon she joined the university.

"I was on deputation to the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council for some years and joined the university in June last year. The research committee responsible for the projects' approval tried its best to adopt a transparent procedure that can ensure candidates' selection only on merit," she said.

"I submitted the details of projects in June this year. However, the director of finance had earlier told me that the science faculty would get Rs15 million for 2008-09. I fail to understand how the administration of the university could spend the grant allocated for a certain purpose on some other needs," she asked.

When questioned about this issue, S.M. Khalid, the KU director of finance said that the science faculty requested for the grant very late, while no similar request had been made yet by the pharmacy faculty.

"It is an obvious delay on their part. However, we have received Rs190 million for the first quarter of 2009-10 from the HEC and both faculties will now get their grants for research and survey within two to four days."

Budget gaps
Karachi: It is interesting to note here that although the university did not give any grant to its faculties of science and pharmacy for the year 2008-09, this year's budget document shows an amount of Rs48.8 million as revised expenditures under the head of research and survey.

The requested amount of the science faculty for research and survey for 2008-09, however, is only Rs15 million.

When asked about this matter, Mr Khalid said that it did not matter whether funds were provided to faculties or not, there were always "some expenditures".

Budget estimates for the financial year 2009-10 propose Rs52 million for research and survey and Rs96.2 million under 'other minor heads'.

KU advisories
Karachi: The registrar of Karachi University has advised teaching and non-teaching staff, students and others to observe the sanctity of Ramazan on the university premises.

According to a university notification, the registrar said that there should be no public breach of the sanctity of the holy month in the buildings or grounds of the university.

He directed the management of canteens to keep their business closed from dawn to sunset this month.

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NED advisories to admission candidates
Karachi: The NED University of Engineering and Technology has advised candidates seeking admission to avoid seeking help from any political, religious or ethnic group who have reportedly set up stalls outside the main campus.

A handout issued on Saturday says whatever assistance is needed can be obtained free from the help desk set up by the university in the admission block.

According to the university's registrar Engr Javed Aziz Khan, the prescribed forms for admissions to 19 disciplines are available at the university branches of the National Bank and Habib Metropolitan Bank.

He said the university had announced that the admission forms could be submitted till Oct 1. Entry tests would be conducted on Oct 4, he added.

The total number of seats - 1,600 on merit and 233 on a self-finance basis - would remain the same as that of the last year. The new academic session (2009-10) will commence from January. Dawn

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