Khyber Pakhtunkhwa universities most expensive in country: HEC chief

Published March 20, 2021
Dr Banuri blames unnecessary expenses, overstaffing for it. — Photo courtesy University of Peshawar Facebook/File
Dr Banuri blames unnecessary expenses, overstaffing for it. — Photo courtesy University of Peshawar Facebook/File

PESHAWAR: Higher Education Commission chairman Dr Tariq Banuri on Friday declared Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government universities the most expensive in the country and blamed their unnecessary expenditure and overstaffing for it.

He was speaking during a high-level meeting held here at the Governor’s House on the administrative and financial issues of the public sector universities.

KP Governor Shah Farman, who is also the chancellor of government universities in the province, chaired the meeting of the provincial and federal authorities.

The meeting called to discuss ways and means to address the issues of universities was attended by federal education minister Shafqat Mahmood, special assistant to the KP chief minister on higher education Kamran Bangash, HEC chief Tariq Banuri, and chairman of the prime minister’s task force science and technology Dr Attaur Rehman.

Dr Banuri blames unnecessary expenses, overstaffing for it

Federal education secretary Farah Hamid and the higher education secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who also attended the meeting, briefed participants about the affairs of government universities in their respective areas.

The participants discussed administrative, financial and academic issues of the universities and suggested corrective measures, according to an official statement issued here.

Majority of KP’s universities have been facing financial and administrative issues for the last many years.

A participant told Dawn that HEC chairman Tariq Banuri insisted that the University of Peshawar spent over Rs300,000 on a student annually and those expenses were very high.

He also complained about the excessive education expenditure in Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan and Agriculture University of Peshawar.

Sources said the three universities were struggling to pay salary and pension due to the severe financial crisis.

A recent high-level inquiry conducted by the Provincial Inspection Team declared that the University of Peshawar had financially sunk due to the illegal or irregular appointments of 2,756 employees in the last one decade and lavish expenditure, including paying several allowances to unauthorised employees.

According to the 63-page inquiry report, the UoP has been paying hundreds of millions of rupees every year to its employees in different heads, which they were not entitled to.

The Governor’s House meeting discussed the procedure for the appointment of vice-chancellors, including qualifications, criteria and role of the search and scrutiny committee, and the performance of VCs.

The participants agreed to control the recruitment of non-teaching faculty in public sector universities in line with the ‘settled mechanism’.

They also discussed external audits of universities and measures to improve their financial affairs.

The governor said the search and scrutiny committee should review the procedure for the selection and short-listing of VCs considering the fact that the VC’s position is a totally administrative one.

A participant told Dawn that the governor asked Dr Attaur Rehman to give more ‘weightage’ to the administrative capabilities of the candidate as basically, the VC post was an administrative one.

He also insisted that the law should have room for the administrator as currently, only an academician could become a VC.

Mr Rehman, who heads the academic search committee for the appointment of VCs in KP, said 40 per cent of the marks for such postings were for administrative experience, 30 per cent for academics and 30 per cent for research.

The governor told the meeting that the posts of the university registrar, controller, provost and treasurer should be filled by professionals instead of teachers.

Minister Shafqat Mahmood said a uniformed law should cover all universities of the country.

Meanwhile, a consultative meeting was held in Peshawar on educational, financial and administrative reforms in the University of Peshawar on Friday.

The participants included the HEC chairman and vice-chancellors of UoP, University of Engineering and Technology, Agriculture University, and Islamia College University Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2021

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