ISLAMABAD, Nov 5: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has shelved all its future scholarships after the government imposed major cuts on its annual budgetary allocations, reliable sources told Dawn.
In view of the government’s decision not to provide funds to the HEC, which were promised under the cash plan for the current financial year, the HEC has stopped offering scholarships for higher studies.
However, knowledgeable sources said, the existent scholarships would not be affected by this decision.
“At present a major chunk of the money which the government is releasing to the HEC is going to our students who are studying at various international universities and left with no money to spend on other projects. Supporting our present scholarship holders is HEC’s prime responsibility,” they said.
Under an extensive Human Resource Development (HRD) project, the HEC had sent 6,500 scholars abroad for higher studies, and nearly 4,000 scholars are busy on various research projects within the country.
Considering the importance of HRD and HEC’s agreement with international universities, where Pakistani students are currently studying, the commission had to divert Rs1.5 billion of the Rs2.555 billion released by the government for the first quarter of the current financial year for this purpose. Therefore, the HEC is left with little funds to support more than 250 ongoing development projects in the higher education institutions of the country.
The financial worries of the HEC started when the government imposed a cut of Rs2.61 billion on its developmental grant of the fourth quarter of the last financial year. The government had only released Rs2.555 billion against the demand of Rs4.523 billion in the first quarter development grant of the current year.
The grant was required under the cash plan for 284 approved projects of the HEC. Moreover, the government has also warned the HEC with more budgetary constraints in months to come.
Public sector universities had already started complaining scarcity of funds to spend on their ongoing and new approved projects for the current financial year. The HEC had also stop paying monthly stipend to university teachers which they were getting for supervising PhD students.
“At present, we are in a tight corner and if the same condition persists, it would be difficult for us to continue working on most of HEC ongoing developments projects,” they said.