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ISLAMABAD: National University of Modern Languages (Numl) has increased fees in the name of ‘developmental charges’.

According to sources in the university, last semester the fees for Masters programmes were Rs22,500 per semester which were raised to Rs24,500.

There was a general idea among students that the fees have been increased because of additional security arrangements.

According to the fee bill, Rs2,000 have been added to the fees under the heading of development charges.

“As we do not understand what the university means by development charges, we think, the university is charging us for enhanced security,” said a student, requesting to not be named.

“We don’t understand why we have to pay for either development or security,” said another student.

Sources at the university said following the Peshawar school attack, the university remained closed for a month and the university saved a lot of money during this time. For one month, transportation, utilities and cost of running generators were saved, they said.

“There is no justification for these development charges being added to the fees,” said an employee of the university, who requested not to be named.

The university is functioning under unclear legal status

Malik Amir Saleem, a spokesperson for Numl, defended this increase in fees. “Numl has been charging nominal fees, in comparison with other universities and so an increase still doesn’t make us an expensive university. Also, these charges have nothing to do with security and development,” he said.

When asked about the development charges mentioned in the fee bill, he said, the heading of development charges is routine heading used in accounts and the amount mentioned is neither being spent of security nor development.

Numl is currently functioning under an ordinance promulgated in 2000, by the University’s Board of Governors. At the time when the university was established, it was unclear whether it was an army-run or public sector university. Former president retired General Pervez Musharraf, the head of the board of directors, was both army chief and the president.

Following the retirement of Gen Pervez Musharraf, President Asif Ali Zardari, in 2011, issued an ordinance according to which “the Chairman Board of Governors (BoG) means the chief of army staff or his nominee.”

This ordinance expired after 90 days, as during this time period, a legislative bill could not be passed in both houses of parliament.

After the presidential ordinance was passed, a bill to appoint the army chief as BoG chairman was placed before the National Assembly in 2011. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) managed to have the bill passed in the lower house, despite strong opposition from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Abid Sher Ali.

Abid Sher Ali, then chairman of the standing committee on Education, also opposed this move in his committee. However, the bill could not pass through the senate.

According to Numl’s public relations officer, efforts are being made to get the bill passed by the parliament.

According to the university’s website, the varsity is being run by the BoG, headed by chief of army staff who has nominated inspector General of Training and Evaluation (IGT&E) General Headquarters as his nominee. Other members of the BOG include Human Resource Development Directorate Director General (DG), Chief Justice of Pakistan’s nominee, General Joint Staff Headquarters Director, Numl Rector, Ministry of Defence Secretary or his nominee, Ministry of Education Secretary, Ministry of Finance Secretary or his nominee, Higher Education Commission Chairman, Numl DG and others.

Published in Dawn March 2nd , 2015

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