Higher education budget & Punjab govt

Higher education budget: Punjab govt seeks enhanced allocation
Lahore, June 03: Despite financial crunch in the higher education sector at the federal level, the Punjab government seems determined to get even bigger budget for development as well as non-development schemes in the higher education department.

The department has reportedly proposed Rs6.5 billion for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) for the financial year 2010-11 against the Rs6.1 billion ADP for the current fiscal. Similarly, it has given an outlay of Rs11 billion for non-development for the next financial year against Rs8.8 billion for the current year.Of the proposed ADP allocation, the Punjab Higher Education Department has reportedly earmarked Rs4.2 billion for the ongoing schemes and Rs2.3 billion for the new ones.

The ongoing schemes include the construction of 56 new colleges across the province. In order to provide the missing facilities, the higher education department will be paying Rs100 million to the NLC for the provision of missing facilities in 138 colleges besides missing facilities schemes being carried out by the Communication and Works department in 80 colleges.

One of the major ongoing development schemes is the construction of academic blocks and other buildings at the University of Gujrat. This financial year, the university had received Rs650 million and was expected to get the second grant of Rs425 million in the next fiscal (2010-11). The varsity is expected to receive this sum of money for the next two financial years as well.

The department has allocated Rs400 million for support to universities, Rs500 million block allocation for colleges and Rs100 million for scholarships for students studying in professional education colleges.

As regards new development schemes, the department has decided to introduce four-year BS (Honours) programme in 26 colleges in the province at a cost of Rs400 million, set up computer labs in colleges with a budget of Rs400 million. The department has also proposed Rs200 million for the provision of postgraduate classes in all districts.

The department has reportedly also proposed Rs150 million for faculty development programme and around Rs30 million to pilot a project of science labs in colleges.

This year, the higher education department has proposed the setting up of a state-of-the-art modern resource centre in Murree. The centre will have library, labs and research facilities for scholars. One library has also been proposed in Toba Tek Singh after the name of former acting advocate-general Raza Farooq.

While, the department will be flourishing in Punjab, the public-sector universities in Punjab would be craving for funds to complete their ongoing development schemes as well.

The Higher Education Commission has informed the respective universities in the country that the federal government had massively slashed their budget and it would thinly fund the ongoing development schemes. While the new development schemes, though approved by all relevant bodies, would not be funded this year.

Academics believe that the suspension of funds in such an abrupt manner would halt the wheel of development activities in universities across the country. Dawn

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HEC looking into other options to run projects
Islamabad: After a massive budget cut, Higher Education Commission (HEC) looking into other options to run its various projects where the rationalisation of fee structure in universities is the most considered option.

The budget approved in National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held on 28 May is only Rs15.8 billion for the fiscal year 2010-2011 against Rs18.5 billion proposed and approved by Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC).

HEC demanded 30 per cent increase in the budget for year 2010-2011, but received a negative response. The development budget for the fiscal year 2009-2010 was Rs22.5 billion in which the cabinet cut down Rs4 billion leaving 18.5 billion with the HEC to continue its various projects.

Now with Rs15.8 billion, HEC is left with no option but to find out various ways for the income generation and to change the feasibility of various big projects, said HEC Executive Director (ED) Dr Sohail Naqvi.

"What we need to do is to stand on our feet and look into the possible ways of income generation and fundraising. The best available option in front of us is to rationalise the fee structure in universities while protecting the students who are unable to pay big fee," he said.

He admitted that the budget cut would definitely have negative impact on the rate of growth but the current budgetary realities were so severe that they could not do anything but to go for self-reliance. "We have to generate consulting opportunities, research grants and philanthropist activities within the universities so that the universities could produce their own money in order to start new projects or to complete those which are in pipeline," he added.

Naqvi, however, lamented that education was not a priority of the government as it should have been, and said that spending on education sector means investing for the prosperous Pakistan. He also referred to 'Iqra Tax' which was once used to be applied many years ago for the development of education sector.

According to the information, HEC is currently spending around Rs10 billion for the various scholarships programmes and cutting the scholarship budget would put the future of many students at stake who are currently studying at various international universities.

While replaying to the question regarding the future of scholars, Naqvi said that they had decided not to cut the scholarship budget for the programmes which are currently in process but to cut down the budget for developing infrastructures. "Those who are studying abroad would continue with their studies however they would definitely revise the upcoming scholarship schemes," he said while adding that they would also not compromise in giving charming opportunities to the scholars who would come back after completing their studies.

He further explained that they were in reviewing process of each project and after that they would decide what could be done to survive in the present circumstances. "What we have decided till now is to change the feasibility of ongoing and new construction project. i.e the project which was to be completed in 6 years would now be completed in 10-12 years," he said.

Naqvi said that the mission of HEC is to create accessible university education for every student. He quoted the recent figures where there is one in six intermediate students getting admission in university. "In the recent admission tests in NUST, more than 30,000 students having 60 per cent marks in FSc appeared against 2,000 seats which means there is no dearth of talent but of opportunities," he said.

He admitted that HEC didn't focus on education at college level, which it should have but said that now they have plans to equally focus on college education as well. "Now we are in process of developing new model where the universities would play their role in providing quality education in colleges. Meanwhile we are also working with provincial government in this regard," he said.

While responding to the criticism regarding the PhD scholars who were not coming back, he said one should not expect unrealistic results. According to him the success rate in scholarship programme was far higher than the failure rate. "As many as 70 PhD scholars who were not even sponsored by HEC applied and 40 joined various universities through Tenure Track System (TTS), 45 PhD scholars who were partially sponsored came back and serving while 760 PhD scholars who have completed under HEC sponsorships are serving in Pakistan," he said while adding that they were not denying failure but it was not as huge as the success.

Naqvi said that they had not received any assurance from government to increase the budget for HEC so far but they would look to find out some sponsors like United States to sponsor various programs under HEC. The news

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Workshop for autistic children at GCU
Lahore: The Alumni Society of the Government College University Clinical Psychology Department on Wednesday organised a training workshop on the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), a highly effective method of non-verbal communication with autistic children who have delays in speech development. Clinical psychologists and professionals from various parts of Punjab attended the workshop. Addressing the participants, resource person Sajjad Ahmad said the PECS used pictures instead of words to help children and had proved to be very useful in clinics and schools. Ahmad said that a child could be trained in the by any , caregiver or who had learned the method. In the early phase of the training, the child chooses a picture of a desired food, and receives what he has in his mind. The resource person said that getting food was the for using the picture to . As the child starts to understand usefulness of , the hope was that he would then start to use natural speech, Sajjad said. Daily times

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PhD degree awarded
Lahore: The GCU Wednesday produced a PhD in Psychology. The Controller Examinations notified Iram Fatima as Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology after the approval of her thesis on 'Belief in a just world and subjective well-being in mothers of normal and down syndrome children'.
She completed her research under the supervision of Dr Kausar Sohail. GCU Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid Aftab congratulated Iram Fatima. The nation

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MFA thesis on display at PUCAD
Lahore: Punjab University College of Art and Design (PUCAD) Principal Prof Dr Rahat Naveed Masud on Wednesday inaugurated the final display of master's of fine arts (MFA) thesis work conducted during the session of 2009-2010.

Students showcased their work in the domains of painting, design, sculpture, graphics, textile design and book illustration. Eminent artists and designers including RM Naeem, Mudassar Manzoor, Jamil Baloch, Shahnawaz Zaidi and Mohsin Akbar comprised the jury and praised the event as one of the most comprehensive and progressive thesis displays.

They also appreciated the students' work, saying that the Fine Art Department of the PUCAD had flourished to an extent where it could proudly be compared to the artistic works of international standards. The display of thesis would continue till Friday (June 4, 2010). Daily times

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Student dies, passer-by injured in firing
Lahore: A student killed while a passer-by sustained injuries in a cross firing between two student groups on Ghazi Road near General Hospital here on Wednesday.

Police said that two student groups of a local college exchange fire over some issue. As a result, Muhammad Fayyaz (22), a student of B.com received bullet wounds and died on the spot while passer-by Tazish received severe injuries and was rushed to the General Hospital. Further investigating is under way. The nation

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