ISLAMABAD, June 22: The Pakistan Higher Commission (HEC) could only receive Rs25 million against the allocated amount of Rs12 billion for 2011-12 from the Finance Division forcing it to abandon its foreign faculty programme.
Besides, the financial crunch will also affect more than 6,000 local and foreign scholarships of the HEC as the commission will not be able to pay their tuition fee and other necessary expenditures which is the responsibility of the government as per deed of agreement singed with these scholars.
As per decision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI), the federal government is responsible for extending the financial support to higher education sector till next NFC award to be announced in 2014, sources said.
An officer of the HEC said the withholding of the funds would lead to a total collapse of higher education sector.
There are 95,000 faculty members and support staff all over the country whose salaries and allowances have not been paid for the last two months.
As many as 500,000 students have been studying in those institutions. The estimated deficit in current fiscal year is Rs6 billion and Rs8.84 billion in next fiscal year, he said.
“Because of lack of funds, new enrollment, faculty hiring and other new initiatives will not be taken. Besides, 152 ongoing development projects in the current financial year have been affected. In the next financial year the federal government has decided to release only Rs28 million against the HEC demand of Rs38 billion,” he said.
The official said the salaries of about 120 foreign professors, who have been hired by different universities under foreign faculty programme, had been put on hold for want of funds.
“They have not been paid the salaries for April and May 2012. Since we do not have funds, the programme is being abandoned and termination letters to the faculty members are being sent,” he said.
The Vice Chancellors’ Committee Chairperson, Engr Imtiaz Hussain Gilani said that VCs had already shown dissatisfaction over withholding of funds.
“Vice-chancellors had hoped that the education friendly democratic government will address the financial crisis by taking corrective measures and honour their commitments to the education sector, but the current decision has dashed their hopes,” he said.
The HEC adviser, Dr Riaz Qureshi, confirmed that the HEC had decided to abandon the foreign faculty programme because of lack of funds. He, however, hoped that the things might change in the future.