KU financial crisis, evening programme admissions

KU unprepared to handle financial crisis
Karachi, May 31: No strategy has yet been formalised by the Karachi University administration to tackle the current financial crisis that is set to harm research activities and student interests, it was learned.

The KU budget passed recently by its syndicate shows that the budget deficit jumped from Rs150 million in 2008-09 to Rs660.846 million in 2009-10.

According to sources, the financial crisis partially triggered by inadequate government funds and largely by mismanagement could lead to another major increase in fees as well as to a further compromise on student facilities.

According to the budget document, the Rs981 million grant the university had received from the Higher Education Commission in 2009-10 was not enough even to meet the establishment charges of Rs1.012 billion for the same period.

The establishment charges had increased by 23 per cent than the last year's, which is expected to increase 11 per cent more in the next fiscal year. The university has estimated that Rs1.011 billion will be spent on salaries and allowances in 2009-10 which is 45.79 per cent of the total budget expenditures.

Regarding the income from its own resources (a major component of which is students fees), the document states that there was a 10 per cent increase last year which is expected to go up to 16 per cent in 2010-11 (from Rs490 million to Rs566 million).

The budget document also says that the university implemented a new pay scale with an ad-hoc relief as announced by the government with effect from July 2009. But the government has not yet compensated the university for it nor provided any supplementary grant. This situation coupled with an increase in charges of utilities and cost of commodities will ultimately affect the budget.

The document, however, makes no mention of the phenomenon of internal borrowing and how the university had been meeting the budget deficits over the years, as the expected budget deficit of Rs660.846 million in 2009-10 does not include the carryover amount of Rs190 million shortfall of the last two years.

KU officials claim that the shortages in income and expenditures have been met through the evening programme being run on a self-finance basis on the campus.

According to these officials, this process of internal borrowing had reached a saturation point and that the university desperately needed government support that could take the institution out of the woods.

A number of infrastructure projects on the campus, including the new building of the faculty of management sciences, offices of the dean of science, new classrooms in the faculties of science and arts, have all been set up from the amount generated from the evening programme, they add.

The budget document has no reference to the income and expenditures of the evening programme. No audit report of the programme, being run for almost 15 years now and currently enrolling 5,000 students, had ever been presented before the syndicate or the senate.

The university has borrowed Rs110 million from the evening programme only this year. This amount is separate from the money taken for developing different facilities, the officials claim.

Senior university teachers also question the administration's justification in setting up new institutes and upgrading facilities without developing a sustainable plan for their operation. After spending a huge amount of money on infrastructure and equipment, the university had no money to run them while the HEC that provided funds for the construction and upgrade is no longer willing to provide an operational grant.

This includes the Institute of Proteomics, the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation and the KU's botanic garden spread over 35 acres. The garden inaugurated in 2007 was planned to be opened to the public to generate income. Still, the plan has not been implemented.

As a result of developing new facilities, electricity charges had increased from Rs50 million to Rs60 million a few years ago and now they have jumped to Rs170 million.

The sources said the heavily politicised administration also faced severe criticism for massive irregularities, especially in recruitments and promotions.

According to the sources, the university authorities granted a large number of promotions under different schemes that enabled the administrative personnel to attain BPS-20 from BPS-17 in less than eight years and that too without a selection board. In many cases, promotions had been awarded retrospectively, they added.

The issue of promotion against rules was raised at the last syndicate meeting. No explanation, however, was given.

Senior KU teachers also criticise the administration's practice of not presenting the minutes of the last meeting of the finance and planning committee in the senate, the supreme body comprising all professors, department chairpersons and college representatives, fearing accountability.

"Last year, too, when the budget was presented in the senate, the participants were not provided with complete details of the minutes of the last finance body meeting that had recommended the creation and upgrade of new posts," a teacher said.

MS/PhD impact factor
The KU officials have not made any case for its research oriented MS/PhD programme in proposing the budget. Therefore, the relevant document makes no mention of the impact factor that the MS/PhD programme would have on the university expenses.

It needs to be mentioned here that the KU, like other public-sector universities in the country, had launched the programme on the HEC's recommendation over a year ago.

Currently, no remuneration is being paid for MS/PhD classes to teachers, which is a major source of concern on the campus. On the other hand, the university increased admission and semester fees eight times while adding more student expenses.

The university spends a little over two per cent on its research and survey activities. For instance, it estimates to spend Rs65.5 million in 2009-10, that would be 2.48 per cent of its total budget. This meagre amount, according to the teachers, was also provided after a considerable delay.

Last year, the science faculty was given a research grant after a gap of two years. While the university had stopped giving MPhil/PhD students research grant for some years.The university had not asked for any money for research under a separate head as it had been the practice. An amount of Rs51.271 million, however, has been sought specifically for the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilisation.

Mismanagement of projects
Only a day before the announcement of the HEC that public-sector universities would face severe financial crisis which may result into a complete halt to development grants, Karachi University presented an annual development programme of Rs780.660 million.

The university, according to a source, has been in trouble for long for mismanaging development projects, which were delayed on account of different reasons. And, finally, when the work started, there was manifold increase in the project costs. The university paid the additional costs from its own resources, hoping that the HEC would pay back. But, the HEC simply refused.

Many projects including the Rs38 million multi-storied blocks for staff residences, hostel for students, construction of new buildings at the biochemistry and pharmacy and administration block, classrooms for science, are much behind their schedule.

Admitting lapses in the KU's management, a senior KU official, wishing not to be named, stated that the evening programme was a 'great support' for the university and if it was not there, many projects could not have been completed.

"The HEC would further cut the grant if the finances of the evening programme were made public. But, there is a limit to everything. We can't borrow money endlessly. Currently, the government is not even providing enough money to pay salaries. How are we going to run labs and other research facilities? The situation could lead to a grave crisis on the campus," he said.

When asked about the reason of not mentioning a separate head for research, he said that the HEC had not provided the money asked for under a separate head for research. So, this year, no money had been sought separately. Dawn

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KU opens admissions for evening programme
Karachi: The Directorate of Evening Programme of the University of Karachi (KU) is commencing admission 2010-2011 from Monday (today) for Masters and Diploma Programme.

The admission booklet with application form can be collected and submitted at the United Bank Limited, Silver Jubilee Gate till June 9 (from 9:30am to 5pm) and at the University Branch (from 5pm to 7:30pm).

The admission in Masters Programme is offered in Administrative Sciences, Agriculture and Agribusiness Management, Applied Physics, Applied Statistics, Botany, Chemistry, Commerce, Criminology, Economics, Economics and Finance,

Education, English (Linguistics/Literature), Environmental Sciences, Health and Physical Education, Human Recourse Management, International Relations, Mass Communication, MBA (Banking and Finance), Microbiology, Petroleum Technology, Physics (with specialisation in electronics), Physiology, Population Sciences, Public Administration, Sociology, Transport Management, Women Studies and Zoology.

The university is also offering diploma courses in Audiology and Speech Pathology (PGD), Contemporary Arabic, Criminology, Computer Science, Economics and Finance, Environmental Sciences, Inclusive Education, Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Investigative Psychology, Investigate Psychology, Local Government, Mathematics, Persian, Petroleum Technology, Public Administration, Quranic Arabic Language and Special Education.

Director Evening Programme, Prof. Dr Abuzar Wajidi said that since its inception in May 1995, the evening programme had so far produced approximately 16,000 graduates and masters who were serving respectable and responsible positions.

The evening programme runs from 3:30pm to 8:30pm at Masters Level and classes are normally held between 5pm to 8:30pm, he added. It is pertinent to mention here that the candidates having Masters Degree are not eligible for the second Masters and Diploma programme, he further said. The news

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Summer vacation
Karachi: Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazharul Haq has said the summer vacation in all educational institutions of the province will start on June 1.

He said this while talking to journalists after a certificate distribution ceremony among students at the Institute of Modern Sciences and Arts on Saturday. The chairman of the institute presented a memorial shield to the minister. Ppi

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SSUET to participate in exhibition
Karachi: Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) is participating in "My KarachiˇAn Oasis of Harmony" exhibition being organised by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to be held at EXPO Centre from June 11 to 13, 2010. In this regard a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Professor Dr S M Makhdoomi, Dean Faculty of Engineering, SSUET, to select the project which will be put on display in the exhibition, the public relations office of SSUET said on Sunday. The news

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