Sindh universities financial problems
Financial woes haunt varsities, says VC
Hyderabad, June 21: Financial constraints being faced by Sindh's public sector
universities is likely to force their administrations to seek an overdraft of
Rs4 billion in the current fiscal, besides the huge sums these owe since last
couple of years for running their affairs.
The government has been asked
to exempt education sector from the General Sales Tax and other levies.
The overdraft amount would help in meeting increase in salaries, medical
allowance and pension during 2010-11. Other than this, universities also need
finances to complete their pending development works.
A meeting of all
vice-chancellors was held on Saturday at the Mehran University of Engineering
and Technology, Jamshoro. It was held under chairmanship of Dr Prizada Qasim,
Vice-Chancellor of the Karachi University on the directives of Sindh governor as
a follow up to June 16, Karachi meeting.
Briefing journalists, Dr
Pirzada said that issues such as adequate grants, overdue promotions of faculty
members, financial constraints and fallouts, if funding was not allowed, came
He said universities urgently need funds for
increasing salaries, pensions and other allowances, reminding journalists that
such an announcement in 2007-08 was also met through an overdraft facility.
However, other proposals were also discussed which would be put before the
governor on June 21, meeting, he said.
Grants are provided for
development and recurring expenditure. Development funds had been frozen but the
government was being persuaded to assist at least the ongoing projects as these
were delayed because of escalation cost, he added.
"We realize that the
government was confronted with a host of economic issues but then there are
always priorities to every agenda," he said adding that universities in last
fiscal received half of the announced allocation but still a decision have been
made not to hike tuition fee for meeting increasing expenditures.
Standards of projects funded by the Higher Education Commission have
improved considerably because of the procurement of equipment and instruments
and upgrading libraries on scientific lines, he said.
concern over teacher-student ratio and announced of increasing salaries of
employees from August 1.
The meeting was attended by the
vice-chancellors of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, University
of Sindh, Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Quaid-i-Awam
University, Sindh Agriculture University, Shah Abdul Latif University, NED
University, Director Sukkur IBA and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Dow University.
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KU research centres fate uncertain
Karachi: While a massive cut in the Higher Education Commission (HEC)
budget has raised serious concern at public sector varsities across the country,
the utility of costly research facilities is also being questioned. Operation of
such facilities set up on campuses requires huge funds, which are neither
forthcoming from the HEC nor available with the universities.
to senior teachers, the research facilities, which have been developed without
adequate homework, are now a burden on cash-starved public sector educational
institutions. They also criticise the HEC, which, they say, provided billions of
rupees to varsities without giving much thought to the viability of development
Two major examples cited in this regard are the National
Centre for Proteomics and the Institute for Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation
(ISHU) at Karachi University, which need recurring grants of Rs55.621 million
and Rs51.271 million, respectively. Requests for the funds have been forwarded
to the HEC.
According to budget documents, the university spent around
Rs50 million on chemical and glassware and Rs54 million for research and survey
during the financial year 2009-10.
This means that the university has to
ignore the research needs of all its other departments in order to make the two
research centres fully functional next year. While the amount required for the
ISHU has been mentioned under a separate head in the budget documents, there is
no specific reference to the amount required by the centre for
The research facilities also draw criticism on the grounds
that they are taking away the funds required for other departments of basic
sciences, which had been ignored in development projects over the years for some
Giving HEC's perspective on the issue, HEC member
for operation and planning Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said that the institutes were part
of Karachi University and the latter had to make them operational from its own
"The responsibility to run a viable and sustainable project
rests with universities. The HEC's job is only to facilitate this. On our part,
we have always told them not to expand their liabilities for the sake of
expansion," he said.
Currently, he pointed out, there were two major
issues confronting universities; firstly, a huge cut in development grant and
secondly, the adjustment of 50 per cent raise in salaries of their staff from
their own resources as per government instructions.
"Adjusting a 50 per
cent raise in salaries is no small issue. While institutions as old as the KU
might be able to manage the situation, it will be extremely difficult for the
newer institutions to do that."
Besides, he said, despite a request made
for the grant of Rs30 billion for development, the government committed Rs15.8
billion only during the new fiscal year in a situation when the HEC was already
facing a deficit of Rs11 billion.
"This will affect not only the 250
development projects, which are already in progress, at various universities
across the country, but also around 9,000 students, who are studying here and in
other countries on scholarships," he said, adding that the HEC spent Rs10
billion solely on scholarships.
To sort out the issue, he said that a
meeting would soon be convened with the vice-chancellors of various
universities. He explained: "We will prioritise development projects and focus
only those that are near completion. The pace of work on the remaining projects
would be slowed down. Universities might have to face the problem of delayed
payments to contractors," he added.
Initiated in September 2004, the National Centre for
Proteomics (the term is a blend of protein and genome) was expected to be
completed in September 2006. However, the project, developed under the Public
Sector Development Programme, is still unfinished and its completion date has
been extended to December 2010. The total amount approved by the HEC is Rs169.5
So far, an amount of Rs113 million has been spent on costly
equipment and building that is almost complete. The project was inaugurated in
2008. No meeting of the boards of studies and governors has so far been called
and a coursework for MS programme is yet to be approved, according to its
director Prof (Dr) Shamshad Zarina.
When asked about the causes of delay
in project's completion, Dr Zarina said that the delay was not unusual in
government settings and was due to water and power problems. "We have the most
modern equipment available for protein analysis at the centre for which we
require an uninterrupted supply of electricity. This has been possible only this
year. However, we are very much on the move despite these constraints. Three
people contracted under the project are being sent abroad for training while a
student has already completed her PhD in Sweden. Researchers have also come from
other countries to train people here."
In reply to a query about the
logic of introducing a new discipline and whether expertise on the subject is
available, she said proteomics had gained popularity in recent years and become
a competitive field of research. "If we want to compete with the world, we will
have to venture into new fields. Though proteins are involved everywhere, we are
focusing on the role of protein in health and disease."
"I have a
competent team and I myself have done researches on related subjects. The
meetings of the boards of studies and governors will soon be called once the
coursework of masters' programme is prepared," she said, adding that the centre
required time and money to establish itself before start generating income for
She expressed the hope that the required funds would be
Loss of public money?
Established with an
investment of about Rs36 million in the first phase, the ISHU has achieved
certain successes in research over the last few years and has been chosen to be
the first chair on halophytes by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (Unesco). Trials at the institute have shown the recovery
of edible oil from certain halophytic species and also their successful use as
The institute has been facing lack of finances over the past
years and efforts are being made to seek monetary support from local and foreign
The second phase of the ISHU project has been pending because
of lack of funds.
ISHU project director Dr Ajmal Khan said: "We have been
waiting for a response to our request regarding funds from the HEC for the last
three years. Whatever little recurring grant is being provided by the KU is
absolutely not enough to run the institute even at half of its capacity. The
operation and repair of the state-of-the-art equipment installed here require a
lot of money. The entire investment will go down the drain if the government
doesn't provide any immediate support."
Regarding the university's
priorities in expenditures, KU pro vice chancellor Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi said
that the university would first fulfil the requirements of departments of basic
sciences. "These institutes have limited research funding from the HEC for small
projects and they are also trying to explore alternative sources for monetary
support. But, yes, for a bigger amount, there are problems. I believe, good
planning is vital for the success of any project," she said when asked whether
any prior planning was done before the launch of these projects.
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'No botanical survey ever done in country'
Karachi: Pakistan is losing its flora at an alarming rate. It has the
second highest rate of deforestation in the world, and studies suggest it would
lose all naturally grown trees within 15 years if no mass-scale conservation
efforts were put in place.The awareness of plant significance in government
circles may be gauged from the fact that there is no department in the country
that works for plant protection. Hence, no botanical survey has ever been
carried out in the country's history.
An authentic red data book on
plants has never been produced and no importance has ever been attached to plant
conservation while declaring an area protected.
These were some of the
important points highlighted by noted botanist Prof Dr Mohammad Qaiser at a
seminar on conservation of biodiversity held in the arts auditorium of Karachi
University on Thursday.
Dr Qaiser is the vice-chancellor of the Federal
Urdu University for Arts, Science and Technology and also the co-editor of Flora
of Pakistan. The book carrying scientific details of all the indigenous
flowering plant species of the country is the first comprehensive work on the
Giving his presentation on floral diversity of Pakistan, Dr
Qaiser said the country blessed with some of the highest peaks in the world,
glaciers and a 1,050-kilometre-long coastline was a land of contrasts in many
respects. This diversity in geographical conditions had given birth to a huge
variety in flora and fauna.
A numerical analysis of Pakistan's flora, he
said, had shown that there were 221 flowering families and 5,700 flowering
species. Of them, 65 per cent families were represented by fewer than 10 per
cent species and about 405 species were endemic.
"The country could be
divided into four regions according to the geographic distribution of plant
species of which the most rich in terms of floral biodiversity is the
Irano-Turanian region that include Gilgit-Baltistan, parts of Kashmir, Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. It has the bulk of floral species, that is, 45.6
per cent of the total floral species," he said.
deforestation, he said Pakistan had the second highest rate of deforestation
after Brazil in the world and it was annually losing four to six per cent of
"It is claimed that 4.5 to 4.7 per cent of the total land
mass in the country is covered by forests. But there is no ground survey to
support that claim. Studies, however, suggest that Pakistan with this current
rate of forest depletion would lose all its naturally grown trees in 10 to 15
years," he said.
Regarding strategies for plant conservation, he said
there was a dire need to carry out a botanical survey of the whole country to
determine the actual status of all plant species.
"Priority should be
given to endemic species in conservation. Researches have shown that a majority
of the over 50 endemic species found in the northern areas and Sindh are
critically endangered. There is a dire need to protect these plants and carry
out monitoring of vegetation," he said.
No conservation effort, however,
could be successful if local communities were not involved and a sustainable
solution to their financial problems was not found, he added.
Speaking on the impact of climate change, Dr Moazzam Ali Khan
of the Institute of Environmental Studies said the impact of the phenomenon
would be severe in coming years on Pakistan, already facing a number of
Giving some statistics on Sindh, he said: "The 1996-2000
data has shown that the average rainfall has declined 10 to 15 per cent and the
frequency of draught has increased. The underground and surface water resources
are depleting fast with the increasing pollution.
There has been 50 per
cent reduction in crop yield over the years in Sindh and farmers have been
forced to change crop pattern. About 5,670,000 hectares have been lost to sea.
The 17 major creeks have virtually turned into saline creeks as there has been
drastic decline in freshwater release over the years. The freshwater flow
downstream the Kotri barrage has decreased from 150 million acres feet in 1955
to less than 2MAF."
These conditions, he said, would get severe in
coming years and had already started creating socio-economic problems.
"The poor are facing numerous hardships, many of whom have been forced
to migrate to urban areas. Studies have shown that wheat consumption has gone
down in Pakistan as people earlier taking three meals a day are now surviving on
Prof Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, the KU vice-chancellor;
Prof Shahana Urooj Kazmi, pro-vice-chancellor; Dr Pirzada Jamal Siddiqui and Dr
Anjum Perveen also spoke.
The Centre for Plant Conservation, the Centre
of Excellence in Marine Biology, the Institute of Environmental Studies, the
Institute of Marine Sciences and the departments of marine sciences,
microbiology and zoology had jointly organised the event. Dawn
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Promotions and postings in Education Department
Karachi: In a notification issued on Saturday, Chief Secretary Sindh
Fazal-ur-Rehman ordered promotion of a number bureaucrats at the Education
According to the notification NoSOI(SGA&D)-1/8/2010 (20)
dated on June 17, Deputy District Officer Education, SEMIS and Planning, Abu
Nasir Abro has been promoted to grade-19.
He has also been transferred
and posted as the District Officer (DO), Education, SEMIS and Planning CDGK. The
notification further said that the former DO, Hamid Karim, has been transferred
and directed to report at the Education and Literacy
Meanwhile, Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh, Deputy Director, Directorate
of Planning and Development, Education and Literacy Department, after being
promoted to grade-19, has been given the post of Additional Director at the same
Moreover, former Additional Director of the said office, Dilawar
Ali Mangi, has been transferred and posted as District Officer, Education, SEMIS
and Planning, District Government Tando Allah Yar, against a post that had been
The notification further said that Tahseen Ahmed
Soomro (BS-19), Deputy DO, Education, SEMIS and Planning, District Government
Sukkur, has been transferred and posted as DO, Education, at the same office.
The post had also been vacant prior to Soomro's positing.
Additional Director, Directorate of Literacy and Non-formal Education, Education
and Literacy Department, Ghulam Muhammad Pathan (BS-19), has been transferred
and posted as DO, Education, SEMIS and Planning, District Government, Hyderabad.
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Guiding students towards better education options
Karachi: On Saturday, scores of students availed the opportunity of
applying to universities and receiving career counseling by visiting The News
Education Expo organised by the Jang Media Group.
The two-day event which
is being held at the Expo Centre will culminate on Sunday. A number of the
country's major universities and colleges have participated, including Preston
University, Iqra University, Fast-NU, Hamdard University and Baqai University.
According to Sadiq Abbas, an official of The News, around 40 educational
institutes have set up their stalls.
The exhibition hall buzzed with
excitement as students and their parents made way to various booths and acquired
information about programmes being offered.
Wahaj Ahmed, who was moving
from one booth to another, reading pamphlets and brochures felt lucky to be part
of the event. "For intermediate and other graduate students like me, this is a
great opportunity to get information and guidance about different universities.
I want to do my bachelors in engineering. Here I have obtained the admission
form of a private university," he said, grinning from ear to
Meanwhile, universities representatives provided on spot counseling
to the students and discussed future prospects and scope of various
A lecturer of Preston University, Zeeshan Shaikh, said that the
occasion is serving the purpose of guiding students towards the right path.
While talking about the fields that are being preferred by the students, he said
that more and more students are now opting for business administration followed
On the other hand, Kashif Ikram of the Baqai
University felt that the number of students who are choosing medicine has
declined. "Youngsters have become materialistic and only seem to care for money
which is why students are approaching business programmes. Also, a lot of
students are clueless as to what to do with their lives and the lack of
counseling at school and college level make things more difficult for
Apart from universities, a bevy of students was seen at the
consultancy booths, where people inquired about foreign universities. Muhammad
Sulaiman, an ACCA student had already made his mind to apply for Queens Mary
University in United Kingdom. "I want to go abroad for further studies as a
foreign degree would strengthen my chance of getting a job along with a handsome
salary. In Pakistan, getting employment has become extremely difficult as people
who graduate from elite universities are the only ones who are
An intermediate student, Muhammad Ali concurred and said that
once he gets admission to an international university, he will not return back.
"My friends and I have decided to go abroad as we believe that after studying in
a foreign country; we would be able to get a decent job and would be justly
HR Consultants where Ali was enthusiastically looking for his
university was providing admissions on the spot to different foreign
universities, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United States and United
"We are handing down admissions to those applicants who submit
required documents along with the forms. A large number of students are heading
for internationally universities and since the last couple of years; the number
of applicants has risen from 10,000 to 14,000 every year. Majority of the
students opt for United Kingdom because of the variety of programmes which are
available,' said Shahid Saeed Regional Manager of HR
Meanwhile, students also showed great interest towards
finance programmes and courses. Sadiq Rameez, a student of Chiniot Islamic
College said that students are opting for finance programmes as there is no
saturation point for such students. "There was one time universities was
churning out doctors and engineers but now trends have changed. The field of
finance has broadened and people are now studying new things."
housewife, praised the event and said that such events should be held on
frequent basis to guide students. "When I was a student, there were only limited
fields but now every discipline has so many new courses. Therefore a student
tends to get confused. I have brought my son here so that he can get awareness
about different universities, know the criteria and then decide which
professional line he wants to study."
Meanwhile, at the Iqra University
stall, two media sciences students Zohaib Waqar and Mahrukh Khan briefed
students about the popular media sciences field. "Media sciences are emerging as
one of the sought studies. People get excited when they hear the word media and
think that it's all about acting and anchoring. But over here, we are
representing our university and clearing out concepts in peoples mind about this
Also, the booths tuition centers and aptitude test centers had a
rush of people at their stalls. At Wahaj Hussain, a center for tuitions and
aptitude test, people were giving vocabulary tests as part of a competition. "I
am very happy to be part of this, I been to various stalls and feel very
informative," said Hira Khan, an intermediate student. The news
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