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ISLAMABAD: Higher Education Commission desperate for funds to save its scholars abroad

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Govt wants universities to use own resources

By Mehtab Haider

After making no payment of allocated billions of rupees for development funds in the last several months, the government has now asked the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to come up with a business plan such as utilising hundreds of acres of prime land lying idle at the disposal of universities to run educational institutions on modern lines.

Instead of focusing only on construction of huge buildings, the government is asking the HEC and its subordinate universities to devise a roadmap for improving skills and training of professors and lecturers as well as developing faculties of crucial subjects up to the desired mark.

With Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeem Ul Haq in the chair, the Planning Commission and the HEC high-ups held a crucial meeting in recent days to review development projects and funds for the HEC in the current fiscal year.

“Yes, we asked the HEC to come up with a business plan how it would convert its assets such as hundreds of acres of prime land available to almost every university. This land can be used to benefit the educational institutions. We have also raised the issue that the HEC should focus to enhance skills of professors and lecturers instead of constructing buildings only,” a senior official of the Planning Commission said.

But the HEC high-ups are not on the same page with the government, saying that on the basis of long-term planning in the range of 5, 10, 15 to 20 years period, the concept of running universities on the pattern of corporate entities seems feasible; but they are running from pillar to post to arrange money on an immediate basis for paying scholarships to those who are already studying abroad.

“Our financial crunch is quite severe and we need immediate attention of the government or problems of our students studying in foreign universities on scholarships will be aggravated and a stage can come when they can be rusticated due to non payment of dues,” they added.

HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi on Wednesday confirmed that in the last meeting with the Planning Commission high-ups, certain issues in the name of business plan were raised. He said that there should be no doubt that universities should have to be efficient but on a short-term basis, they cannot run without the support of the government.

“The assets of the universities can be utilised in a befitting manner but it requires capacity building,” he said and added that they were requesting the government to release funds immediately or the whole programme of the HEC would be choked.

Source: The News

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