PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali on Wednesday revealed that 20 out of 34 public sector universities in the province were struggling to manage their operations due to cash crunch in the current fiscal.

“Budget deficit poses a serious threat to the stability and continued operations of universities and therefore, it should be addressed immediately,” Mr Ali told reporters at the Governor’s House here.

The governor, who is also the chancellor of government universities in the province, said that budget deficit of the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar totalled Rs977 million, the University of Peshawar’s Rs469.5 million, Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan’s Rs434 million, University of Agriculture Peshawar’s Rs187 million, University of Charsadda’s Rs30 million, University of Swabi’s Rs15 million, and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Upper Dir’s Rs7 million.

Accompanied by caretaker higher education minister Prof Qasim Jan, the chancellor said financial problems of public sector universities grew due to their mushroom growth during the last 15 years.

Says many varsities were set up needlessly in violation of criteria

“Many universities were established needlessly, without any planning and in violation of the criteria,” he said.

Mr Ali said that the successive governments in the province had only increased the number of public sector universities but never thought how they would function.

He added that financial problems of those universities were increasing with every passing day.

“The main reason for financial and administrative problems of our universities is that the law for their establishment as well as recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff was never followed,” he said.

The governor complained that worldwide, the basic task of universities was to do research but unfortunately, universities in the province spent only three per cent of their total budget for the purpose.

“In the current fiscal year, the expenditure of our 34 public sector universities have reached Rs40 billion but just Rs1.1 billion has been earmarked by them for research initiatives,” he said.

Mr Ali said that universities in developed countries played a pivotal role in driving industries through research and commercialisation efforts. He said in the past, VCs had “needlessly” appointed employees on the directives of the former governors and chief ministers.

“Now, the students have to pay high fee to pay salary to those employees,” he said.

Mr Ali highlighted “flaws” and issues surrounding eligibility criteria for and process for the appointment of VCs saying they negatively impact the quality of higher education in the province.

“My [Governor’s] Secretariat has prepared a detailed report about flaws in the VCs’ appointment and forwarded it to the chief minister for getting it approved by the cabinet for implementation,” he said.

The governor said currently, eight public sector universities functioned without VCs, while VCs of seven others would complete their term in office in the next two months.

“I request all VCs to focus their attention on improving educational standards as not a single university of our province KP is on national and global rankings,” he said.

On the occasion, minister Prof Qasim Jan said the establishment of universities should be stopped immediately.

“We have more than enough universities,” he said.

The minister said that the universities should play a pivotal role in industrial and economic development of the country.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2023

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