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Universities' boycott over HEC's budget cut

Universities' employees to boycott classes, hold rallies today
Islamabad, Sept 22: The first meeting of the committee set up by the Prime Minister to resolve the budgetary issues of the universities was held on Tuesday wherein the members of the committee deliberated the issues of universities to rationalise their demands for final decision by the PM.

Dr Nadeem ul Haq, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission chaired the meeting. Other members who attended the meeting include Chairperson HEC Dr Javaid R Laghari, HEC Member Operation and Planning Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Additional Secretary Education, advisor to PM on Social Sector Shehnaz Wazir Ali, Dr Samar Mubarakmand, Member Science & Technology, Planning Commission and ex-Chairman National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM) and three vice chancellors namely Dr Saeeda Asadullah, VC Fatima Jinnah Women University, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, VC University of Karachi and Imtiaz Hussain Gillani, VC UET Peshawar.

During the meeting the vice chancellors and representatives of HEC presented three major issues which need to be resolved urgently before the committee including non-payment of 50 per cent raise and 15 per cent medical allowance to the employees of universities, continuation of support to scholars studying abroad and in local universities, payments for the default of the last financial year which amounts to about Rs.5 billion and completion of development projects which are near completion.

Sources privy to the meeting informed that the officials of the commission were asked to rationalise their projects and needs and it also came under discussion that whether the university employees should be given salary raise or not as the universities are autonomous bodies.

The vice chancellors and officials of the HEC told the meeting that merely for the payment of raise in the salaries to the employees they need about 7 billion rupees which the government has not allocated in the budget of the current financial year and allocated only Rs. 23 billion for the fiscal year 2010-11 in terms of non-development budget.

The committee was also informed that if the government releases the amount 15.7 billion as pledged in the budget, the scholars studying abroad and in the country under the human resource development programme of HEC would not leave their studies incomplete, the projects which have been completed 90 per cent would be completed and the contractors who are all set to move the courts against the non-payment of their dues would be paid.

The representative of the Planning Commission would forward the demands of the universities which need to be met urgently to the PM through Finance Minister who would finally take the decision regarding the issue. The next meeting of the committee would be held on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the call of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations (FAPUASA) the universities employees including faculty members and non-teaching employees would boycott classes and hold rallies on Wednesday (today) to protest against the refusal of Dr Hafeez Shaikh to release pledged allocations for the universities.

The vice chancellors have been fearing that if the government does not allocate Rs. 7.5 billion to give raise in salaries of the employees like it has allocated for all the government employees as announced in the budget, the employees of the universities would refuse to work and offices of the universities would be closed down. The nation

Your Comments
"Why are VCs lamenting ? what are they crying over? Although its a good thing to spend on higher education if not a prority but the its a fact that most of them (VCs)have sent their sons/duaghter/son-in-laws/other sifarshis abroad on govt foreign scholarships through engineered selections/nominations .I can name some of them but let the matter left to the govt to be investigated. the flood vicitims are a prioroity not the corrupt VCs its the decision of life or luxury?"
Name: sultan javed
Email: eddyspot@hotmail.com
City, Country: ISLAMABAD

"flood affectees should be given priority over all others.Its a matter of life .However govt needs to give universities fund so that existing scholars and projects complete their studies and objectives."
Name: hashim
Email: hashim@hotmail.com
City, Country: lahore

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KUTS to boycott classes to protest against HEC's budget cut
Karachi: The Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS) has decided to boycott classes in University of Karachi (KU) on Wednesday (today) to protest against the Higher Education Commission's (HEC) budget cut to public sector universities.

KUTS has also called a General Body Meeting today to discuss the situation arising from the financial crunch and further decide a concrete line of action. Secretary KUTS, Dr Fayyaz Vaid condemned the 'irresponsible, anti-education and antagonistic attitude of Federal Finance Minister Dr Abdul Shaikh towards the universities' and said on Tuesday that they had to resort to such an action because the government is not ready to talk to the universities after taking this unilateral decision.

The action from the teachers' body comes in the backdrop of the decision by Dr Shaikh has recently announced the halting of seven billion rupees to public sector universities. "This amount is peanuts compared to the hefty amounts pumped to other sectors, many of them non-productive," the teachers maintained.

The teaching and non-teaching staff in public sector universities has reacted strongly against the proposed budget cut announced by the minister calling it 'a murder of higher education in the country.' Dr Shaikh further alienated the universities by advising them to generate their own funds.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, after realising the strong opposition from the academics and other stakeholders, constituted a committee to look into the matter and evolve some method to wriggle out from the situation. The committee comprises of

Vice Chancellor KU Dr Pirzada Qasim, Vice Chancellor University of Peshawar Dr Azmat Hayat Khan and Vice Chancellor Fatima Jinnah Women's University Vice Chancellor Dr Saeeda Asadullah Khan.

Federation of Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has rejected the formation of the said committee calling it an exercise in futility. It is the general notion of the FAPUASA members all over the country that the formation of the committee was wastage of time and the research and study in the universities will be stunted. FAPUASA too is boycotting the teaching process today all over the country to protest against the antagonistic attitude of the government.

VC KU Dr Pirzada Qasim also expressed his reservations about the committee and said that he had already told the concerned government officials that the committee was a non-starter and the suggestions forwarded by the government were non-practical. "Advising us to increase the tuition fee is preposterous as that amounts to just four percent of the budget. Nothing will improve financially even if we increase the fee to 100 percent," he said.

Vice Chancellor Gilgit University Dr Najma Najam opposed the idea of 'self-generation of funds' by the universities and sarcastically posed a question to Dr Shaikh. "Should we send our students (of Gilgit University) to dig the mountains to get funds?" Other universities' heads agree with her in this regard.

The representatives of the teachers in the KU Syndicate Dr Aqeel Ahmed, Dr Aneela Amber Malik, Dr Shakeel Farooqui and Ms Saba Masood believe that either the government is devoid of the importance of higher education or the ministers, MNAs, MPAs and senators with fake degrees want to drag others to their level of educational deprivation.

"Public sector universities are bestowing knowledge to a large number of students from middle and lower classes. What will happen when they are deprived of education? They will come out on the roads and bring mayhem to the society. Street crime will increase. The government should release the seven billion rupees to the universities. All other actions by the government would be a water shed," Dr Aqeel Ahmed said.

Former member, KU Syndicate and ex chairperson of the Department of Pharmacology Dr Rafeeq Ahmed Khan reminded the government that its action will push the country years back. "It will become a country sans education and lack of intellectualism will be the order of the day," he said. Dr Khan demanded the release of funds to the universities and went on to add, "Self-accountability is also required to curtail the wastage of funds due to corruption and non-productive projects." The news

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Students rally against govt's plan to increase fee
Peshawar: Students of different educational institutions here on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration outside Peshawar Press Club against the federal government's proposal to increase tuition fee and other charges for overcoming financial crisis being faced by public sector universities.

Activists of Islami Jamiat Talba led the demonstration. The protesting students, holding placards inscribed with slogans against the government's plan, were also demanding reduction in examination and admission fee being charged by the government-run educational institutions. "If the federal government's proposal concerning fee increase was implemented people would come onto the streets against the decision," a student leader Abdul Shakoor warned.

He said that Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh was not aware of the problems being faced by the students of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in case his proposal was implemented thousands of students would have to say goodbye to educational institutions.

Mr Shakoor said that the government had already slashed the education budget which had negatively impacted the performance of education sector in the country.

"We will not allow anyone to close the doors of educational institutions on poor students," he said. He said that on the one hand the government had been claiming to have planned education for all and on the other the already enrolled students were being forced to leave the institutions.

Mr Shakoor said that students would fully support teachers, who were planning to start demonstrations for release of funds to the public sector universities.

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Varsity loses teacher
Khairpur: The Shah Abdul Latif University was closed here on Tuesday following the death of Hidayatullah Malik, assistant professor, department of Botany, in his native town of Ghotki earlier in the day.

The vice-chancellor, Professor Dr Nilofer Shaikh, and teaching and administrative staff of the university at a condolence meeting expressed grief over the demise of Mr Malik.

Meanwhile, the registrar of the SALU has announced that date for admission to different faculties of the university and its affiliated colleges in Sukkur and Larkana regions has been extended up to October 15. Dawn

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College principal injured
Quetta: The principal of the Musakhail Degree College sustained bullet injuries when a staff member opened fire at him here on Tuesday. MDC Principal Riaz Ahem was sitting in his office when a staff member opened fire at him after an exchange of hot words. As a result, he got injured and was rushed to the Loralai Civil Hospital. He was later referred to Quetta. The news

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