Cut in universities' grant hits hard

Cut in university grants scuttles academic activities
Hyderabad, Nov 21: The Sindh chapter of the Federation of All-Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association said on Thursday that massive cuts in grants had scuttled academic activities, work on development projects and day-to-day affairs in all the public sector universities of the province.

The association leaders who met at Sindh University said that all universities were running on bank loans and demanded that last year's approved grant for the universities should be restored without delay.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, the association's secretary Prof Badar Soomro said at the press club that the meeting had deplored cuts in the universities' grants, which had seriously upset academic, research and development programs.

He said that the university teachers had not been given promotions for years and demanded that the issue of promotion should be solved on the pattern of Punjab and Peshawar universities as this discrimination against the teachers of Sindh universities was creating unrest.

He said that vice-chancellors of the universities should be selected on the basis of the formula laid down by the Higher Education Commission, which clearly stated that the VC should be a PhD of a professor grade, he should be in-service professor of the same university, his age should be less than 55 years and he should be appointed only for one term of four years.

He referred to a recently published advertisement for the appointment of a VC for NED University, which had not even mentioned the age limit. The teachers had already expressed no-confidence in the so-called "search committee" for the appointment of VCs because some of the committee members had got themselves selected as VC for the second term, he said.

He said that in all the other provinces, VCs were authorised to issue no-objection certificate to university teachers and employees who had to go abroad for the performance of Hajj or Umrah or to attend international conferences or workshops. But the teachers and employees of the Sindh University were being discriminated against because they had to obtain NoC from the governor. This practice should be ended, he demanded.

Prof Soomro expressed grave concern over lawlessness in the educational institutions of the province and said that clashes between students' groups had claimed many precious lives and seriously affected standard of education.

He said that incidents of robbery, theft and mobile-snatching had become order of the day in the educational institutions of the province.

He appealed to restore law and order in the educational institutions and deplored victimisation of teachers.

He said that ban on appointments in the universities should be lifted in the larger interest of education and all the retired officers and bureaucrats appointed on contract basis, including VCs and pro-VCs should be removed. Dawn

Cut in grant hits UET hard
Peshawar: The massive cut in the recurring grant of the NWFP University of Engineering and Technology has resulted in huge financial deficit, making it difficult for the prime institution of the Frontier province to continue its academic as well as development activities in a smooth manner.

Sources said that a total of Rs387.572 million were released to the university against the expenditure of Rs480.07 million during the financial year 2007-08, causing a deficit of Rs92.498 million.

In order to overcome the deficit, the university administration submits formal request to the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, for grant of additional funds to overcome the deficit faced by the university, but no such fund could be issued to the university.

The sources said that the main reasons for the huge financial deficit of the university included the 20.5 percent deduction from the approved allocation for the year 2007-08 and thus withholding a sum of Rs65.041 million.

Supplementary grant worth Rs59.253 million was also not provided to the university to meet the impact of salary revision and pension increase in accordance with the 15 percent raise announced by the government with effect from July 2007. Similarly, the funds of Rs19.295 million required for operation of completed development projects were also not released to the university, the sources said.

Sensing hurdles in the smooth functioning of the largest public sector university of engineering sciences of the province, the chancellor of the university and governor of NWFP also wrote to Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Shaukat Tareen, asking him to provide financial assistance to the university to help it overcome its financial deficit and continue its development projects like the construction of Jalozai campus and others. But, the university is yet to be provided with any concrete assistance, the sources added.

A senior official of the university, when approached, said that the massive cut in the university grant by the federal government has made serious problems for them to continue their academic, research and uplift activities smoothly.

The official said that the HEC reports were the best examples of the excellent performance of the university. He said that the university had always executed all the projects and programmes assigned and approved by the HEC well in stipulated time and in a qualitative way.

He said that the HEC had given the task to the university administration to double the number of students, which they raised from 1,700 to 3,700 before the expiry of the time period set by the commission. New departments and campuses of the university were opened in the province on the directives of the HEC, but when it came to funds and grants, those were shrunk.

The overall cut in grant to the public sector universities has created enormous problems in their functioning. The universities of the Frontier province that were already short of resources were hit very hard. Those sitting in Islamabad consider investment in education and other sector in the Frontier province as a mere wastage of resources, said a senior educationist.

He said that the ministers representing the province in the federal cabinet and other senior officials in bureaucracy hailing from NWFP should plead the case of getting sufficient funds for the public sector universities in a vigorously. He added that the educational institutions in the Frontier province had already been neglected by the federal government.

It was the HEC that had focused on research and qualitative activities in all parts of the country. But the elected government soon after coming into power reduced the grants for the universities bringing their development activities like establishment of new campuses and departments to a complete halt, besides seriously affecting their research and academic activities.

If we take the example of NWFP UET alone, it has 108 research scholars doing their PhDs in various disciplines abroad. If these scholars are not provided with funds in time, they might miss their registration in new semesters, which would be a great national loss, said another education analyst. The News

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Karachi University finally decides to correct merit list: MS/PhD admissions
Karachi: The Karachi University (KU) administration finally issued a notification on Thursday to end a controversy triggered by flaws in the entry tests for MS/PhD admissions, stating that the revised merit list would be released on Nov 22 "with corrections incorporated as per rules".

The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by KU acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Ikhlaq Ahmad.

It was unanimously decided that the previous merit list displayed on the university's website on Nov 17 be kept in abeyance while a revised merit list be issued after incorporating corrections.

The merit list will now be based on the names of those candidates who have scored 50 per cent or above marks in the National Testing Services (NTS) test. The merit calculation will be made by giving 60 per cent weight to the marks obtained in the last degree and 40 per cent weight to the NTS score. The new merit list will be placed on the university's website on Saturday evening.

According to the notification, provisional admission will be granted against the available seats as per the requirement provided by the chairpersons/directors of the relevant departments/institutes.

The selected candidates will be required to complete all formalities regarding admission, including submission of fees and relevant documents, by Dec 15. It may be recalled that there has been a lot of criticism of the KU administration for involving a private organization, the NTS, into the admission process of the KU MS/PhD progammes in recent months. Not only candidates had to pay double fees, Rs500 to the university and Rs600 to the NTS, but also many ineligible candidates lost their fees due to a lack of coordination between the two institutions. As many as 300 to 400 ineligible students turned up on the admission day that witnessed a complete mismanagement.

Later, the administration issued a flawed list on Nov 17 that did not include the names of many candidates who had actually passed the NTS test. A protest by teachers and the concerned students forced the administration to withdraw the list and issue a revised one. Dawn

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