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Fund shortage: 4,000 HEC scholarships put on hold

HEC yet to receive total amount of development budget
Islamabad, May 28: Over 4,000 scholarships approved by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) have been delayed due to non-release of funds amounting to Rs13.82 billion.

Besides, not only over 150 development projects of the commission remain unfinished but their cost has also gone up due to the delay.

According to sources, in August 2011 the revised funds allocated for the HEC stood at Rs48 billion (31.5 billion non-development and Rs16.5 billion development), but so far only 77.5 per cent of the non-development (Rs24.41billion) and 58.95 per cent of the development (Rs9.76 billion) budget have been released.

An official of the HEC requesting not to be quoted said: "The development grant caters to the core strategic areas of access, quality and research of higher education sector. The infrastructure, human resource development, research lab facilities etc., are the key drives in the move toward the objective. It can really affect the enrollment rate which is still 7 per cent in the country. The overall expenditure on higher education is 11 per cent in Pakistan though according to Unesco and international standard, 25 per cent of the total education budget may be spent on higher education."

The official said lack of essential research facilities, particularly lab, library and hostel, was the key barrier for the students, researchers and faculties. The PSDP portfolio of HEC has been encountering the challenges of higher education sector. But reduced allocation, non-inclusion of new schemes and non-release of development grant on time has severely affected the execution of the projects, he said

Another official said more than 150 development projects had been affected and due to the delay in their completion, the costs have also gone up.

"The ongoing academic programmes are at stake due to unavailability of funds. More than 4,000 PhD scholarships have also been delayed for six months," he said.

The scholarships were of various disciplines, including social sciences, engineering, medical, natural sciences, arts etc., and the students have been waiting for funds to continue their studies. Majority of them have been studying in foreign countries but some are also stuck in Pakistan as their fees could not be paid, he said.

"The requirements to enhance access to rural communities and support the weaker institutions are not met due to non-execution of new projects. Eight newly-established universities, including Hazara University, Swat University, Saheed Benazir Bhutto University and Shringal University in Upper Dir, have not been awarded even a single development project, he added.

According to sources, seven newly-established sub-campuses in the far-off areas also required immediate support to take off their academic activities. Most of the 67 schemes proposed by the HEC in the budget plan for financial year 2011-12 were not allowed. The HEC proposed Rs16.50 billion for fiscal year 2011-12 against which Rs14.00 billion were allocated. However, the case of additional Rs2.50 billion was also taken up which is yet to be materialised.

They said the government was not giving any preference to the education sector due to which the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year has almost passed without release of any grant.

An official said the quality initiative of hiring new Tenure Track Faculty would have to be put on hold. In order to meet the growing needs, indigenous scholarships (500 additional) from the newly-approved schemes till September 2012 require around Rs350 million during the fiscal year 2012-13. However, no fiscal space on development side is available to accommodate this requirement, he said.

Adviser to HEC Dr Riaz Qureshi said that they had been in touch with both the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance. "They have assured us that despite the financial crunch some amount will be released soon," he said.

Chairman Vice Chancellors Committee Imtiaz Gilani said a few days back he had a meeting with parliamentarians in Lahore and tried to convince them to ensure release of funds forhigher education.

Chairman National Committee on Development of Social Sciences Dr Nizamuddin said the finance ministry had promised that funds would be released soon. If the funds are not released within a few days, we will consider our future strategy, he added.

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College teachers criticise 'pick & choose' upgradation policy
Islamabad: College teachers working at different institutes under Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) have expressed reservations over 'pick and choose' policy in the upgradation of their scales.

The decision of upgradation of the teachers was announced in 2010. Only school teachers have been upgraded so far while around 700 teachers of federal government institutions and 1,300 from model set-ups are still waiting for upgradation.

According to the college teachers, the officials of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) in the recently held 'Thanksgiving Ceremony' only invited the teachers from model colleges and federal government institutions, ignoring the college teachers and their representative body.

Talking to APP, Federal Government College Teachers Association (FGCTA) President Professor Zahid Ali Shah said, "When the school teachers were celebrating their upgradation at the Convention Centre, the college teachers were kept far away and treated like step children."

FGCTA General Secretary Professor Tahir Mahmood said, "According to the directive issued by the Prime Minister Secretariat regarding upgradation of teachers on February 17, the relevant department is adopting a pick and choose policy.

"School teachers under the FDE were upgraded whereas college teachers are still waiting for the upgradation which was announced simultaneously for all teachers on 8 November 2010," he observed.

The Time Scale Formula for promotion was approved but not being implemented in its true spirit, he said.

The authorities concerned at AGPR are helpless in understanding the chaotic situation created by the Education Wing of CADD and the Finance Division by notifying 'upgradation through Time Scale' the term which does not even exit in financial and audit rules administering the whole official routine in the country, he lamented.

FGCTA Senior Vice President Professor Khalida Makhdoom and Vice President Professor Yasmeen Bokhari claimed that Minister for CADD Nazar Muhammad Gondal, during his meeting with the office-bearers of FGCTA in his office on May 21 invited them to the ceremony and asked them to bring the college teachers.

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Re-arrangement of FSc Chemistry paper demanded
Islamabad: The students of FSc Part-I taking examination under the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Educational (FBISE) have expressed grave concerns over out of syllabus Chemistry paper.

While talking to INP they said that some questions of the Chemistry paper were out of the syllabus, which could seriously affect their grades as science students have to get higher marks to get admission in medical and engineering colleges.

They complained that out of syllabus questions are becoming a routine as some parts of questions of biology paper were also out of course.

Parents and students demanded of FBISE chairperson to take notice of the matter and re-arrange Chemistry paper.

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ICU syndicate approves promotion of 56 teachers
Peshawar: The syndicate of the Islamia College University has approved promotion of 56 teachers of the Islamia Collegiate School to next grade and removed several heads of different departments and administrative officers on various charges.

The decisions were taken in a recent meeting of the body with acting vice-chancellor Prof Dr Haider Shah in the chair. The meeting was attended by 14 out of total 19 members of the body. The meeting took some drastic decisions. It approved promotion of the teachers of Islamia Collegiate School, which had been pending for the last two years. Some 56 teachers were promoted to the next grade. As many as 31 teachers were promoted from BS 16 to 17. Seventeen teachers were promoted from BS 17 to BS 18 and six teachers went to BS 19 from BS 18, sources informed.

The meeting also removed chairman of the Department of Urdu Prof Dr Javed Badshah on the charges of plagiarism against him. The meeting decided that further action would be taken against him after the Higher Education Commission's decision in his case, the sources said. The additional charge of chairman of the department was assigned to Prof Dr Abdul Salam Khalis, dean faculty of languages and literature.

The meeting removed Prof Dr Shazia Naeem as chairperson Physics Department on the charges of having fake degree on the basis of which she had attained promotion. Prof Dr Sakhi Jan was made chairman of the department in her place, the sources further added.

The deputation of two officials of the university was not extended. They included former controller examination Javed Khan and Farid Khan. Sikandar Khan, director works and services, was made officer on special duty (OSD), allegedly on the charges of financial corruption against him. Separate inquiries were ordered in all these cases, the sources said.

Prof Dr Naeem Khalid, a member of the body, who did not attend the meeting terming it illegal and violation of the court order. When contacted, he said that the court of Civil Judge Sohail had stayed the meeting. He said he was going to file a contempt suit against those who violated the court orders.

He was of the opinion that the meeting was illegal. He said the vice-chancellor had tendered resignation from his office in a meeting of the senate held on April 27. "How come a resigned vice-chancellor is chairing such an important meeting?" he asked.

Prof Dr Naeem Khalid remarked that the vice-chancellor himself had signed the minutes of the senate in which it had been clearly mentioned that he had resigned from his office.

It worth mentioning here that the high court had stayed the proceedings of the senate meeting held at the Governor's House on April 27, restraining the vice-chancellor from implementing the decisions taken therein.

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Blood donation camp held at IIU
Islamabad: The Pakistan Thalassaemia Welfare Society held a blood donation camp for thalassaemia patients at the women's campus of the International Islamic University (IIU) The camp was organised in collaboration with students of the IIU Centre of Media and Communication. Director of Women Campus (IIU) Dr. Zaitoon Begum speaking on the occasion said that it was the moral and religious obligation of every Muslim to contribute in all possible ways to save precious lives of his or her brothers and sisters.

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Pakistani scientist wins accolades in top international university
Islamabad: Dr. Zaheer Uddin Babar, head of Pharmacy Practice at the School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, has been awarded the prestigious 'Early Career Research Excellence Award' from the University of Auckland.

While conferring the award on Dr. Zaheer, the vice chancellor of Auckland University, Professor Stuart N. McCutcheon, praised Dr. Zaheer for his commitment to research and for making his work available to practitioners and others interested through publications in journals of international repute as well as writing in the media.

Dr. Zaheer has PhD in pharmaceutical policy and a master's degree in social pharmacy. He has taken keen interest in the pharmaceutical sector of Pakistan and has many research studies dealing with issues of medicines process, pharmacy education, regulatory control and management of pharmaceutical sector in the country. He visits Pakistan frequently and delivers lectures at universities around the country.

Dr. Zaheer has extensive work experience in Asia-Pacific countries, especially in New Zealand, Malaysia and Pakistan. His research areas are access to medicines, medicines pricing, generic medicines, mapping pharmaceutical situation and the broader issues related to pharmaceutical and health policy.

Zaheer has active research linkages with leading universities in Australia, Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Region. He has worked with World Health Organisation on medicines pricing issues and has published over 50 scientific research papers in leading international journals.

He has also acted as a consultant to Health Action International, International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease and Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand. Dr. Zaheer is also the founding editor of a peer-reviewed medicines policy journal 'Southern Med Review.' Dr. Zaheer's services abroad have brought a good name for Pakistan. It is hoped that his work will be shared extensively within the country and will be used in improvement of the pharmaceutical sector and betterment of its consumers.

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NUST rewards winners of Microsoft Imagine Cup
Islamabad: To recognise meritorious efforts of its winning team at Microsoft Imagine Cup, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) held an award giving ceremony at its main campus here on Monday. NUST Rector Engineer Muhammad Asghar graced the occasion as the chief guest.

Cash award of Rs5000 was given to each member of the winning team namely Celoks comprising Qasim Ikram, Salman Mazhar, Usman Bin Wahid and Muhammad Azeem from NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The team's project SEED was about donating leftover food to the needy through Windows Phone Application.

As many as 11,000 students from different universities of Pakistan actively participated in the contest. It was the first time in the history of this competition that a team from NUST had won the national final of Microsoft Imagine Cup and was to represent Pakistan at worldwide finals. Marking its tenth year, Microsoft is now going to hold the Worldwide Finals of the Imagine Cup in Sydney, Australia early July.

SEECS principal speaking to the audience, highlighted the collaboration between Microsoft and NUST over past few years by explicating how it had been nourished to bring mutual assistance for greater benefits of students.

While speaking at the occasion, NUST Rector Engineer Muhammad Asghar commended the remarkable performance of the winning team. He also paid a rich tribute to Shabbir Khan, the faculty advisor for the team Celoks, for altruistic endeavours and continuous support he offered for the team. NUST rector cajoled the team members into making a result-oriented as well as a compatible plan with NUST Community Service towards poverty alleviation. He urged the winning team to further maintain the tempo and bring international acclaim to NUST by winning the worldwide finals to be held in Australia. Engineer Muhammad Asghar stressed that universities should realise their responsibilities towards building knowledge-based economy.

Microsoft Imagine is the world's premier student technology competition that aims at bringing together the young technologists from across the globe who come up with projects/solutions helpful in resolving both the present and impending challenges of unprecedented nature. The news

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