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HEC to get 30pc funds

By Our Correspondent
June 10, 2023

ISLAMABAD: As government universities struggle with a cash squeeze amid a national economic crisis, their regulator is likely to receive 30 per cent more development funding in the upcoming fiscal from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration than the outgoing one’s.

The High Education Commission’s Public Sector Development Programme allocations will go up from Rs 44.179 billion in 2022-23 to Rs 59.715 billion in 2023-24 with 90 per cent of them going to ongoing projects, according to the proposed budget unveiled by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the National Assembly on Friday. With loan delays by international financial institutions leaving the federal government in dire straits, public sector universities are particularly hit by a scarcity of funds, which mostly come from the HEC. Though many of them have opted for pay and job cuts to reduce expenditure, staff members often complain of late payments.

Documents of the 2023-24 PSDP obtained by The News reveal that of the government’s next year funds for the HEC, Rs 53.315 billion, including Rs 1.05 billion foreign aid, will go to 140 ongoing projects and Rs 6.4 billion to 25 new ones with no foreign assistance. As for the ongoing schemes to be funded next year, the largest amount from Rs 53.315 billion budgetary allocations, i.e. Rs 3.75 billion are for fully-funded scholarships to take MS/MPhil courses abroad in selected fields leading to PhD programmes (Phase II).

Next on the list are Rs 3 billion funds for PhD scholarship programmes under the Pakistan-US Knowledge Corridor (Phase I), Rs 1.5 billion each for 3,000 educational scholarships to Afghan students under the Allama Iqbal Scholarship Programme and the Narowal National Sports City that houses cricket, football and hockey stadiums, volleyball, table and lawn tennis, squash and badminton courts, gymnasiums and swimming pools, Rs 1 billion each for the HEC-USAID Fulbright Scholarship Support Programme and Innovation Centre and Software Park at the University of Engineering & Technology Lahore’s sub-campus, Rs 800 million for strengthening and expanding the University of Gujrat and allied campuses, Rs 750 million for Higher Education Development Programme of Pakistan (Revised), Rs 740.9 million for improving digital access of universities to resources by “strengthening the core network and expanding PERN footprints through CPEC optical fibre”, and Rs 600 million for the Post-Doctoral Fellowship Programme (Phase III). Among other major ongoing projects to receive money in 2023-24 are the establishment of the National Centre of Industrial Biotechnology at the PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi

(Rs 580.9 million), strengthening of the University of Sargodha and its campuses in Mianwali and Bhakkar (Rs 543.2 million), establishment of the Post Graduate Education and Research Centre at the Pir Abdul Qadir Shah Jeelani Institute of Medical Sciences, Gambat, development of the Bacha Khan University Charsadda’s main campus, establishment of the National University of Medical Sciences in Rawalpindi, development of the University of Buner in Swari, establishment of sub-campuses of public sector universities at the district level, a faculty development programme for universities, the Human Resource Development Initiative for engineering, science and technology universities, indigenous PhD fellowships for 5,000 scholars, improvement of academic facilities at the University of Karachi, provision of academic and research facilities and girls hostel at the Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, rehabilitation and upgradation of infrastructure at the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore and establishment of the Women’s University campuses in Pishin and Khuzda (Rs 500 million each), Kamyab Jawan Talent Hunt Youth Sports League (Rs 497.985 million), strengthening of the Khyber Medical University Peshawar (Rs 475.35 million), development of the University of Dir (Rs 475.12 million), establishment of the NUST campus in Quetta (Rs 455.37 million), strengthening of facilities at the Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur (Rs 446.713 million), strengthening of infrastructure at the University of Haripur (Rs 443.56 million), upgradation of the Government College of Technology Khairpur into the Benazir Bhutto University of Technology and Skill Development (Rs 432.73 million each), and establishment of the University of Punjab’s sub-campus in District Gujjar Khan.