ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Dr Sania Nishtar on Wednesday directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to blacklist those universities which had failed to ensure proper utilisation of and full transparency in Ehsaas scholarship funds.
She issued the instructions while presiding over a meeting of the steering committee of Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship Programme.
Dr Nishtar stressed the need for timely payment of stipends to students to help them continue their studies and to save them from being forced to seek loans for the purpose.
“This is not a reimbursement model. Students have to be paid on time, to facilitate them to continue their studies,” she said.
The SAPM asked the HEC to take action against the universities who did not pay students stipends on time and those who deducted money from the Ehsaas scholarship stipend on account of other expenses.
More than 142,000 scholarships have been awarded over the past two years
Universities having failed to pay students on time or having spent Ehsaas scholarship money on other expenses should be singled out and blacklisted, she directed the HEC officials.
She also directed that a visibility dashboard be prepared and each participating university be transparent about when it received money from Ehsaas vis-à-vis the cheque numbers and dates on which students had been given stipends.
The meeting also decided to reopen the Ehsaas scholarship application portal on Sept 30. To receive new applications for the academic year 2021-22, the online portal will remain open for the next two months.
All students with family income of less than Rs45,000 a month and studying in the undergraduate programme in any of the 129 public sector universities recognised by HEC, will be eligible for applying for the Ehsaas stipend.
Over the last two academic years, over 142,000 need-cum-merit based Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships have been awarded. This year also, 50,000 scholarships will be awarded to deserving students.
Students will be able to apply through the online portal: https://ehsaas.hec.gov.pk/.
The need-cum-merit based undergraduate scholarship of Ehsaas covers hundred per cent tuition fee of the university and a living stipend.
Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship programme will support 200,000 students from low-income backgrounds over four years. The total budget specified for the purpose is Rs24 billion. The programme covers the four provinces, the AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Islamabad Capital Territory.
As part of the undergraduate scholarship policy of Ehsaas, 50 per cent of awardees are girls.
For already enrolled awardees, their academic performance will be tracked, and subject to satisfactory academic progress, they will continue to receive Ehsaas scholarship till completion of their undergraduate degree.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2021