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Sunday June 23, 2024

FAPUASA demands higher education funds for provinces too

By Rasheed Khalid
May 29, 2024
Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi. — X/@amjadmagsi/File
Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi. — X/@amjadmagsi/File 

Islamabad:Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations (FAPUASA) has unanimously rejected a recent notification of Federal Government refusing to allocate funds for the universities in the provinces and decided to observe Black Day on Thursday (May 30) in all public-sector universities of the country.

This was decided by participants of an emergent online meeting of Executive Council of FAPUASA presided over by Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi on Tuesday. The meeting was called to take stock of the severity of notification due to its devastating effects on the Higher Education sector already suffering a lot due to the apathy of the government.

The ASAs of respective universities have been directed to hold meetings and bring all stake holders along to raise the common voice. The EC also decided to hold a sit-in Islamabad next week for the legitimate rights.

Being the representative of the academic community across all universities in Pakistan, the President and General Secretary of FAPUASA vehemently condemned the Federal Government's unilateral decision to cut the budgets of provincial universities. The decision is not only detrimental but also beyond the constitutional authority of the Federal Government, they claimed. Any decision regarding the budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) must be placed before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting, as mandated by the Constitution. After the 18th Amendment, education, health and environment sectors were devolved to provinces but the Federal Government is keeping these ministries with new names.

According to FAPUASA, The issue of higher education budget is extremely crucial, which affects the entire nation. It is imperative that before making any cuts to the HEC budget, the government must allocate funds in accordance with the provincial shares. The federal Government’s decision to cut the HEC budget will lead to the destruction of universities across the provinces, many of which are already facing severe financial challenges.

FAPUASA Pakistan, along with its provincial chapters, has continuously raised its voice through mainstream press, video messages and letters to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and has also organised protests but despite these efforts, the government has shown a lack of seriousness in addressing the dire conditions of our universities, the FAPUASA office-bearers said. It is crucial to remind that higher education plays a pivotal role in the economic development of a country. Undermining this sector will have long-term detrimental effects on our nation’s progress and prosperity. FAPUASA strongly demands the government to immediately withdraw its decision regarding the HEC budget. Moreover, it is urged that the government should increase the higher education budget by up to Rs 500 billion in the upcoming federal budget. Failure to reverse this decision will result in the closure of universities nationwide, as most institutions will be unable to pay even salaries and pensions.

In Pakistan, the Federal Government's budget cuts for universities are a significant challenge, especially for provinces like Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Balochistan, which have not yet established their provincial Higher Education Commissions. Without such bodies, these provinces lack localised governance and strategic oversight necessary to mitigate the impact of reduced funding. Additionally, these institutions might need to enhance their efforts in securing research grants and donations while also advocating for interim support from the federal HEC to ensure educational standards and development projects do not stall.