ISLAMABAD: The new formula that was proposed by Higher Education Commission (HEC) for distribution of funding to universities is in the doldrums as HEC has no chairman to form a revised committee.
A couple of years ago, the HEC on the demand of vice chancellors of universities had formed a committee to work on the distribution of funds among universities.
However, before completing its task, the committee chairman tendered his resignation while a committee member died in June 2020. Since then, a new committee could not be formed as the HEC has no chairman.
According to HEC’s document, a committee was formed headed by the VC of Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineer Ahmed Farooq Bazai while VC of IBA University (Sukkur) Prof Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui (late), former surgeon general Asif Mumtaz Sukhera and a nominee of finance division and the executive director of HEC were members of the committee.
Head of committee formed to work on distribution of funds among universities resigned while a member passed away in June 2020
The committee finalised its recommendations which were placed before the 35th meeting of the commission and 28th committee meeting of vice chancellors (VCs).
The commission, as per the document, after due diligence directed the committee to further review the formula as per guidelines given by the VCs committee. The VCs committee had recommended that variation in annual fee per student should be considered and HEC should consider devising a uniform policy to regulate fee in universities.
The committee’s recommendation stated: “HEC may consider categorising universities according to their enrollment, age and type, in order to develop allocation of recurring grant. In addition to recommended determinants of need-based grant component, HEC may also consider such additional factors as pension problems in older universities, and startup challenges in newly-established universities.”
It was also recommended that under performance-based grant component, alternative performance indicators may be established for art institutions. However, convener of the committee resigned and member Mr Siddiqui died of Covid-19 in June 2020.
The document stated that a new committee will be constituted by a chairman who is yet to be appointed by the government after approval of the commission.
It is relevant to note that the chairman of HEC Dr Tariq Banuri was removed from his post in March this year when the federal government reduced his four-year tenure to two years. Later, Dr Banuri filed a case against his removal and the matter is still in court.
Currently, the HEC is without a chairman while its executive director Dr Shaista Sohail, who retired in August this year, has been running the affairs of the commission on the basis of extension.
The HEC is a regulatory body with Rs108 billion funding for the financial year 2021-22 as Rs42.4 billion for development and Rs66.25 billion for non-development expenditure had been earmarked for the current fiscal year.
The issue of delay in finalising the new funding formula was also discussed in Senate Standing Committee on Education on last Friday where HEC’s officials told the committee that due to resignation of the convener of the committee and death of a committee member, the formula could not be finalised.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2021