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May 27, 2015

HEC likely to get budget of Rs72b for FY 2015-2016: chairman


May 27, 2015

Higher Education Commission (HEC) is expected to get a total budget of Rs72 billion - Rs51 billion as recurring fund and Rs21 billion as development fund - for the fiscal year 2015-2016.
These statistics were shared by HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed in an interview with ‘The News.’
“We have got the indicative ceiling but the final decision would be taken in June,” he said while praising federal government for its continuous support for past two years. He said that HEC plans to start 40 plus new projects in the coming year.
Talking about the achievements of HEC, Dr Mukhtar said that because of the support from the government, HEC has attained financial stability. “The commission has received an additional Rs7 billion development grant for completion of projects that were pending due to lack of funds in previous years and Rs3 billion recurring grant to facilitate operational expenses. Through these additional funds over 80 projects would be completed by the end of the year,” he said.
Talking about future initiatives, chairman said that on the directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, HEC plans to established campuses in every district of the country in order to improve accessibility of higher education. “This new initiative would be launched this year,” he said.
To estimate the success of Ph.D scholarships programme and to point out areas that need improvement, Dr Mukhtar said that HEC has conducted a third party analysis of the programme. “The findings were encouraging and way beyond our expectations,” he said.
While sharing some major statistics, he said that among total scholarships issued under this programme, 59-60 per cent was issued to students of less developed area. “Among the total number of scholarships issued to the students belonging to less developed areas, 22 per cent were from villages and 28 per cent were from small towns,” he said.
In addition, the monthly household income of the

families of 58-59 per cent students who were granted scholarship was less than Rs20,000 whereas 39 per cent households were earning less than Rs10,000. At the time when scholarships were awarded to students, the average income of the family was Rs25,000 which jumped to Rs122,000 after they completed their degree.
“Educational opportunities are equally important for the students of developed and less developed areas but when a person from a village or a small town is benefitted, it improves the whole community,” he said.
About the areas that need attention, he said that at this stage, more focus is required on priority research areas. “In future, HEC plans to issue more scholarships in fields and sectors which require qualified human resource,” he said. To identify priority research areas, HEC would organise national level conferences and would take feedback from all stakeholders on sectors where there is lack of qualified human resource.
HEC chairman said that media is playing very important role in creating awareness on education. He praised GEO for running a campaign on education budget. “Education Expo is a good initiative as it facilitates and inspires youth and aware them about future avenues.”
He appreciated the idea of organising conference on higher education as part of these expos. “Higher education has different aspects and they need to be highlighted in detail. I would suggest media houses to think about organising thematic expos so that we can discuss and develop consensus on crucial issues. The recommendations of such conferences will provide valuable input for decision makers.”
He also stressed to keep a check on the standard of institutions that are participating in expos. “Institutes with any objection against them should not be allowed to take part in such events.”
Dr Mukhtar said that HEC has received complaints from other countries against certain consultants. These consultants are blamed for arrange visas for people in the name of education. “We are in the process of making a regulatory framework for consultants and also suggesting registration of such firm to control any such fraud,” he said.
Talking about public-private partnership, he said the concept was misused in some of the institutes developed under this partnership in recent past.
“This partnership is vital for higher education sector but there is also a need to take strong quality measures to ensure standards in such initiatives.” He said that HEC has finalised rules to regulate and monitor such partnerships in future.

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