LAHORE: The Punjab University (PU) administration has increased the scholarship quota reserved for the students of Balochistan from 53 to 70 seats.

The administration has allocated [more or less] three seats each for 26 districts of Balochistan to ensure representation from the entire province.

Earlier, the scholarship quota reserved for the students from Balochistan was decreased from 106 to 53 seats.

The Punjab government, led by PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, had allotted one seat in every programme of the varsity to help the students from Balochistan in 2012. Under the project all the universities of Punjab were providing free of cost education, free allotment in hostels and also giving students from Balochistan Rs3,000 per month stipend to meet their daily needs etc.

The institutions, including PU, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Lahore College for Women University, Government College University, Lahore, Ghazi University Dera Ghazi Khan, University of Gujrat, Islamia University Bahawalpur, were on the list to provide free education to students from Balochistan.

Seats increased from 53 to 70

As many as 100 students had been given scholarships every year in the PU since 2012 and more than 600 of them had completed their study under the project.

The administration will give admission to the students of Balochistan in every department of the varsity.

Previously the PU administration had minimised the number of students from Balochistan due to frequent quarrels between Baloch and Pakhtun councils in the university.

Sources said the decision to increase quota for students of Balochistan had been taken on the direction of a Senate committee.

PU Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad had taken the step on the recommendation of the committee where he also personally appeared and increased 17 seats for the students of Balochistan.

However, sources claimed that these 17 seats would be given to female students of the province while 53 others would remain on open merit.

They said the Punjab University would also provide scholarships to more than 50 students of the tribal area of Dera Ghazi Khan.

Prof Ahmed told Dawn that the academic council had approved the increase in seats of scholarships for the students of Balochistan from 53 to 70.

He said the administration had decided to get recommendations from the Balochistan government and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) regarding admissions.

He said the Balochistan government would [first] send recommendations to the Punjab Higher Education Department (PHED) and it would give the PU administration a list for admissions.

The students of Baloch and Pakhtun councils had welcomed the decision of the university for increasing the quota.

They said they were protesting against the decrease and the decision would help minimise their grievances of providing equal education opportunities.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2019

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