ISLAMABAD: Students from different colleges and universities on Saturday demanded promotion to next semesters and grades on the basis of Grade Point Average (GPA) and urged the government to stop educational institutions from demanding fees for the next semester.

Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club, they said since educational institutions had been closed, demanding library, hostel, transport fees and other similar charges was unjust.

They also said no increase in higher education budget would severely affect higher education.

Central President Muttahidda Talba Mahaz Moazzam Shahzad Sahi, Central Secretary General Anjuman-i-Talba-i-Islam (ATI) Mohammad Akram Rizvi, Joint Secretary ATI Rashid Mughal and others were present.

They said the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had failed to solve problems being faced by the higher education sector, especially during Covid-19. It could not introduce online policy and even the online academic programmes of various universities have been closed down.

“Surprisingly, all of a sudden, online education is being promoted by HEC without proper preparations, training of faculty and solving Internet connectivity issues which has resulted in a lot of resentment among students community. There is also a dire need to review all these policies,” Mr Sahi said.

He said due to coronavirus, parents had become unable to pay the fee of their children.

The government should announce soft loans for students so that they might continue their studies without any hindrance.

All policies in higher education sector should be formulated with the consultation of stakeholders.

While talking to Dawn, Mr Sahi said the budget for education should be 5pc of the GDP but unfortunately it is less than 1pc.

“Online classes have been started by a number of educational institutions without realising that all students don’t have internet facility across the country. So we suggest the students should be promoted in next grades on the basis of their GPA,” he said.

Mohammad Akram Rizvi said the public sector and private educational institutions have started demanding fees for the next semester which was unfair.

“With the closure of universities, their electricity and fuel bill has been reduced, the benefit of which should be passed on to the students but they are being told to pay tuition, hostel and transport fees of next semester in full,” he said.

He said the government should take notice of the situation and ensure that the educational institutions do not mint money from parents.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2020