Govt agrees to release Universities funds

Govt agrees to release funds to varsities for raise
Islamabad: The government agreed on Thursday to immediately release funds for a 65 per cent increase in the salary of university teachers and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) requested the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa) to withdraw its call for an indefinite strike in state-run universities.

"The committee formed by the prime minister for the resolution of the budgetary crisis in the higher education sector has successfully resolved the issues under discussion. Fifty per cent salary increase and 15 per cent medical allowance will be paid to universities as additional recurring grant," a handout said.

It said the government had also agreed that all foreign and local scholars would be funded till the completion of their studies, while all approved scholarships which were built within projects would be withheld till the improvement of the country's financial health.

All projects or their components in advanced stages of completion will be funded.

However, no new contractual liabilities will be created until the situation improves.

The vice-chancellors praised the role of the prime minister, the cabinet and the HEC, appreciating the government's commitment to higher education in difficult budgetary times, the statement said.

Talking to journalists, HEC Chairman Dr Javed Leghari said the government had agreed to make timely releases of Rs15.7 billion earmarked under the Public Sector Development Programme for universities.

He said the money for teachers' salary would be released this month.

However, Fapuasa president Dr Mahr Saeed Akhtar termed the government's decision too little, too late. "The government has taken three months to understand our demand. That too has come after Fapuasa's call for an unprecedented countrywide strike in public sector universities."

The government itself had announced the raise for government employees, but unfortunately teachers were ignored and they were left with no option but to come on the roads, he said.

Dr Akhtar said the federation's executive body would meet in the capital on Friday to decide its course of action after the government's response. He said the higher education sector was in a shambles because of frequent cuts and delayed releases in the development and recurring budgets of the HEC.

Last year, the government committed Rs22.5 billion for development, but could release only Rs11.5 billion. This year, Rs15.7 billion had been allocated, but the federation was not sure if the whole amount would be released, Dr Akhtar said.

He said the teachers would see what assurance they needed from the government. Dawn

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"Pakistan is the most unfortunate country in the world where education is largely neglected and where the government spends less than two per cent of its GDP on education. And now it has decided to cut down on the grants and subsidies to the state-owned universities under the pretext of austerity campaign. The universities have been asked to raise their own funds by fee hikes. The government should reconsider this policy without wasting further time. Education is they key to progress for any nation. The money spent on education is not expenditure but investment. We request the government to take this decision back."
Name: --
Email: Syed Muzammil Hussain
City, Country: Islamabad,pakistan

"I very much agree with the government's decision to cut funds for the public-sector universities. These funds are mainly misused by the authorities of these universities. The biggest misuse of these funds is spending them on unworthy faculty members. If one takes the example of the Agricultural University, Peshawar, the majority of those who went abroad for doing PhDs had either already completed their PhDs in Pakistan or had spent two to three years in that programme. But even then they were offered the scholarships and huge amounts are being spent on their studies. This is simply a waste of resources. The government should impose its decision at all costs and should not allow anyone to misuse the national exchequer for personal gains. "
Name: Dr Athar Ali
Email: --
City, Country: Peshawar,pakistan

"Its a healthy sign that funds are released or assured to be released. I partially agree with Dr Athar Ali what ever he said. But do we really think why universities needed funds? Why Rectors or VCs, Teachers and other staff of universities went on agitation? Its all because of their personal intrests, i.e Increase in Saleries upto 60% and other facilities to make their lives luxurious. They never thoughted about future of Young scholars (arround 80) who were selected for PhD scholarship, ultimately those PhD scholars would have strengthen the Faculties of Universities throughout the country resulting increased reputaion and world class education, Government must know present ranking of our universities in world. I dont think that universities ranking depends on saleries of their staff, but on strength of highly qualified faculty members. I regret to say that none of Agitator from universities talked about those who are selected from past two years for PhD scholarship and they were to fly their destination by this fall semester. They went through tough competition by passing GRE , universities required examinations,Interview etc atleast HEC should sent those who have secured admission abroad and VISA etc."
Name: Riaz Hussain
City, Country: Hyderabad, Pakistan

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VCs welcome govt promise, teachers demand notification
Peshawar: The vice-chancellors of public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Thursday hailed the decision of the federal government to release funds to the varsities for the current fiscal year, but the teachers' association vowed to continue the protest drive till the issuance of an official notification.

At a meeting here, the vice-chancellors declared that the government's decision would ultimately solve the financial problems that the universities are facing this year but much more needed to be done to ensure adequate, timely and uninterrupted delivery of funds in the coming years.

The meeting was attended by the heads or representatives of all the 14 public sector universities of the province.The participants suggested that the government must ensure implementation of education policy 2009 and uphold the vision 2015 for education in the country, which was to increase the education budget up to seven percent of the GDP.

They said in the prevailing situation it is impossible for the universities to give best results and government must take all measures to uplift the high seats of learning in the country.The vice-chancellors said they endorsed the budget allocation for primary education but more steps were needed to adopt the standard ratio policy at both the levels and increase the education budget at least threefold.

The representatives of the universities noted that the overall access to higher education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had doubled in the last five to six years due to the establishment of new universities and their sub-campuses, but on the other hand funds allocation were reduced drastically.

It is evident from the fact that budget for higher education was 0.33 percent of GDP in 2004-05 and has now been further slashed to around 0.23 percent in the current fiscal year, the vice-chancellors' meeting pointed out.

Most of the participants said that less than one percent budget for higher education was not a futuristic approach and steps were required to improve the standard of higher education, adding the current budget for education stood at 1.7 percent of the GDP, which was one of the lowest in the world.

The meeting expressed serious concern over the kidnapping of Islamia College University Vice-Chancellor Ajmal Khan and demanded the government to ensure his early and safe recovery. They urged the government to take measures to ensure the security of the vice -chancellors, faculty and staff members and students of the universities. Meanwhile, the teaching and non-teaching staff of the universities continued their protest by wearing black arm-bands and observing one-hour token boycott from classes and office work.

Provincial President of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities' Academic Staff Association Dr Mohammad Fida said that they welcomed the government resolve to issue funds to the universities, but would continue protest till they receive the directive in writing. He added that a meeting of the central executive body of the association would be held at the Allama Iqbal Open University today (Friday) where future line of action will be devised.

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50pc pay raise to cost three public sector varsities Rs690m
Peshawar: The three major public sector universities in the provincial metropolis would require Rs690 million annually for giving 50 per cent increase in salaries being demanded by the employees.

The employees of the public universities have been protesting the denial of increase in salaries already allowed to all government employees. The University of Engineering and Technology (UET) would need an additional amount of Rs120 million, Agricultural University (AU) Rs219 million and the University of Peshawar (UoP) Rs350 million to foot the bill for the increase in salaries of all their employees.

According to UET Finance Director Sarwar Khan, the current expenditure on salaries amounted to Rs300 million and they would need another Rs120 million to ensure provision of the 50 per cent increase in salaries to the employees.

The funds required for various projects and the students studying abroad under different projects like the Jalozai campus were under different heads and not included in the increased salary bill, Sarwar Khan said.

The official said the university had managed to continue work on the ongoing projects so far but these might not be completed if funds were not released. About the government's resolve to release funds for the projects, 90 per cent work on which had been completed, he said the decision would badly affect the establishment of Jalozai campus, a mega project of the UET on which only 40 per cent work had been completed. He said funds for the project should not be stopped. He said that 70 students under the same project were getting higher education abroad.

Dr Farzand, finance director of the Agriculture University said that HEC could release only Rs390 million against their demand of Rs570 million for salaries, pension and medical allowance.

"If we are provided the remaining Rs219 million, it would cover the additional amount required for the 50 per cent increase in salaries and 15 per cent raise in pension and medical allowance," he said, adding that more funds would, however, be required for

the ongoing projects in the university. The University of Peshawar would require Rs350 million for giving 50 per cent raise in salaries to the employees, said Akhtar Ameen, spokesman for the university.

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GCU in solidarity with universities
Lahore: Following news reports of aloofness of the Government College University (GCU), Lahore, from common concern of public sector universities of the country over financial constraints, its vice-chancellor on Thursday held a meeting with the varsity staff and faculty members and discussed the issue.

According to a GCU press statement, VC Prof Dr Khalid Aftab held a meeting where solidarity was expressed with entire fraternity over financial constraints faced by the varsities and it was hoped that the matter would be resolved amicably soon. It is pertinent to mention here that public universities across the country observed complete academic boycott on Wednesday against the federal government for not sufficiently funding the varsities and the Higher Education Commission (HEC). However academic activities continued without any disruption at the GCU.

Addressing a full-house meeting of the GCU teachers and staff in Bokhari Auditorium, Prof Aftab called upon the government to immediately release funds at least for the scholarships of students and increase the salaries of staff members.

Later, the VC, on the recommendation of staff members and treasure office, ordered constitution of a committee comprising economics and management experts to chalk out a long term financial plan to make the university a self-sufficient organisation. Meanwhile, a prize distribution ceremony was organised in honour of the 10 Ravians who have secured positions in the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Lahore, Intermediate Examinations, 2010. Speaking on the occasion, GCU VC said the most crucial challenge that Pakistan confronted today was a severe dearth of quality human capital, adding that it was a serious crisis as compared to the financial crunch. The news

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Degree issue: 9 legislators appear before EC
Islamabad: Nine legislators appeared on Thursday before the Election Commission hearing cases of parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies found to be holding fake or invalid graduation degrees.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sports Minister Syed Aqil Shah and Balochistan's former food minister Ali Madad Jattak, who had been issued notices for Sept 6 and Sept 16, respectively, but did not turn up, voluntarily appeared before Mohammad Afzal Khan, an official of the commission.

They have been asked to produce original documents at the next hearing to be scheduled later. Six legislators have been issued notices to appear on Oct 4.

Talking to us after the hearing, an EC official said that so far 27 legislators had appeared before the commission. He said the commission would complete by the end of next month the hearing of about 50 lawmakers holding fake or invalid degrees.

Prominent lawyer S.M. Zafar appeared on behalf of Senator Wali Mohammad Badini. He argued that holding a Bachelor's degree was not a condition when Mr Badini was elected senator in 2009.

Federal Minister for Housing Rehmatullah Kakar, who is representing MNA Maulvi Agha Mohammad and Balochistan Assembly member Abdul Samad Akhundzada, sought time for filing power of attorney and written replies to the commission's questions. Dawn

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