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Public sector universities degrees in key disciplines

No regular seats at public sector universities in key disciplines
Islamabad, July 23, 2008: To get oneself enrolled in the disciplines of Management Sciences, Computer Sciences and Engineering has turned a distant dream for the aspiring students belonging to a middle class as no public sector university offers courses in these disciplines on regular basis.

Despite heavy funding from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the public sector universities, courses in the said disciplines are being offered on self-financed bases. The Quaid-i-Azam University which is ranked first among the Pakistani universities and second among the universities of Muslim countries offers not even a single seat in the Departments of MBA, Economics and Computer Sciences on regular basis.

A limited number of seats on regular basis with normal fee are available in all the departments except MBA, Computer Science and Economics. Only one discipline, M.Sc Gender Studies offers all seats on regular basis as per regional quota. Ten additional seats on self-financed basis are being offered in each discipline except in Pakistan Studies, Psychology and Faculty of Biological Sciences where 15, 20 & 3 seats in each discipline are on self-financed basis respectively.

Students pay tuition fee Rs 42,000 per semester for admission to MBA and M.Sc Computer Science and Rs 32,000 for M.Sc and MPA in all disciplines, in addition to other dues and charges.

As a top university of the country, it gets extra amount of funds as compared to other universities and the students come from across the country because of regional-based quota system but in terms of fee structure there is no relaxation for the students.

Another public sector university, International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI), offers all the courses in Faculty of Management Sciences and Faculty of Engineering & Technology on self-financed basis. In the disciplines of MBA, BBA, Ph.D, MS (Management Sc.), BS, MS and Ph.D in Electronic Engineering, no seat is available on regular basis.

The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) also offers such courses with the same fee structure as prevalent in the private universities. A student from middle class cannot think of studying in the universities like Bahria and Air University, though, they are also public sector universities of which dues are above Rs 60,000 per semester.

The point is, what is the purpose of public sector universities and why the grant in billions is distributed to them across the country when a student has to bear the same financial burden, which one bears in private sector universities.

It is important to mention here that an amount of Rs 33.7 billion for the HEC has been estimated in the budget of 2008-09, as allocated earlier for the outgoing fiscal year out of which Rs 18,000 millions have been allocated for the development projects and 15,766.425 million for current expenditure of the public sector universities.

Dr Riaz Qurashi, Advisor at Quality Assurance & Learning Innovation Division, HEC, said that the universities earn from three sources, including HEC funding, provincial funding and from their own sources.

"The universities about 40 to 70 percent funds acquire from HEC which are mostly for development projects and recurring grants has not been increased for few years.

The universities have reservations over the inadequate budget allocation in terms of non-development budget", he added.

By Asma Ghani (The Nation)

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Varsities in a fix due to non-issuance of notification
Lahore: The Punjab Higher Education Department has yet to issue notification regarding the abolition of self-finance scheme while the delay has left universities in a fix to take a final decision about the matter.

According to sources, following a cut in universities' grants from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) this year, most of the public sector universities were against the abolition of self-finance scheme as it was a good source of revenue for them.

The Punjab government had announced abolition of the scheme from all the universities and colleges during the budget 2008-09, while abolition of the same scheme from the medical colleges of the province was announced by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif before the budget.

It is important to mention that the Punjab Health Department has recently issued a notification to end the scheme in medical colleges of the province while the Punjab Higher Education Department has yet to issue the notification in this regard.

Interestingly, taking full advantage of the uncertain situation, most of the universities have kept mum over the issue despite the approaching admission season.

It is learnt that during the recent meeting of the Punjab University's deans, chairmen and directors, which finalised admissions for the coming academic session, the matter about the self-finance scheme was deliberately ignored and no decision was taken in this regard.

A PU official, seeking anonymity, said the matter was not discussed in the meeting as no notification was issued regarding abolition of self-finance scheme. He said estimates of the scheme were approved by the university's Syndicate in its budget meeting held before the government decided to abolish the scheme.

"The cut in the universities' grants from the HEC is certainly worrying for universities," he said, adding: "The decision to abolish the scheme would add to universities' financial problems". He claimed that the universities were reluctant to accept abolition of the scheme in the wake of non-issuance of notification.

When contacted, PU Admission Committee Chairman Prof Dr Jamil Anwar said the university had not received any notification from the department concerned in connection with abolition of the scheme.

Replying to a question, he maintained the decision was not notified, adding: "Therefore, we should go according to our schedule".

An official of the Government College University (GCU) also confirmed that the notification was not received yet and there was a confusion regarding admission against self-finance scheme. GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Aftab was not available for comments.

VC of the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) Prof Dr Bushra Mateen said her university had not received any notification regarding abolition of the self-finance scheme, however, in a telephonic conversation, the Secretary Higher Education had told her that all the seats of the scheme stood abolished. "The seats, earlier filled through self-finance scheme, will be filled through open merit," she added.

Secretary Higher Education Arifa Saboohi was not available for her comments despite repeated attempts.

However, a senior officer of the department, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that any notification was not issued yet, adding that it would be issued soon. The News

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