PESHAWAR: Eighteen out of 34 public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will receive less federal grants in the current fiscal year compared with last year’s, reveal official documents.
Teachers fear that the funding crisis will aggravate the issues of the universities.
The federal government releases grants to the province’s public sector universities in quarterly installments.
Official documents available with Dawn show that the federal government doled out Rs1.365 billion to the University of Peshawar last year but the latter will receive around Rs1 billion in the current year after a cut of Rs27 million.
HEC official says provinces responsible for funding of their varsities after 18th Amendment
Similarly, the federal grant for the University of Lakki Marwat will go down by Rs21 million from last year’s Rs43.34 million to Rs33.91 million in the current fiscal.
The documents show that the Abbottabad University of Science and Technology is also to witness a reduction of Rs20 million in its federal grant as the release for the ongoing year will total Rs111.91 million compared with last year’s Rs130.7 million.
They reveal a Rs19 million cut in federal grant for the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar, Rs18.7 million for the University of Haripur, Rs17.3 million for the Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Rs13 million for the Fata University Kohat, Rs8 million for the University of Science and Technology Bannu, Rs3.7 million for the University of Hazara, Rs3.9 for the University of Swabi, Rs2.8 million for the Khushal Khan Khattak University Karak, Rs1.9 million for the Women University Swat, Rs1.5 million for the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Sheringal, Rs1.1 million for the Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan, Rs0.43 million for the Khyber Medical University Peshawar, Rs0.24 million for the Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar and Rs0.14 million for the Malakand University.
Media secretary for the Peshawar University Teachers Association Dr Zafar Khan told Dawn that the reduction in federal grants would definitely hit universities administratively and academically as they’re already struggling to manage the financial crunch.
He said in a recent meeting with caretaker provincial minister for higher education department Prof Qasim Jan, the Puta informed the government that the University of Peshawar needed Rs2 billion more funding annually.
Dr Zafar said the provincial government’s grant for the university totalled a few millions of rupees, which was not sufficient in light of the rising expenditure.
“The university has not increased salaries of both teaching and non-teaching staff members for the previous two years, so resentment prevails among employees,” he said.
He said the running of universities amid such a financial crisis was not possible and that the situation had forced employees into thinking about going abroad for work as they saw no future in the country.
“Many of our academic staff members have already left the country,” he said.
The Puta media secretary said as the federal government had decreased its releases to universities and the provincial government was unwilling to fill the funding gap, the institutions of higher education had shifted their financial burden to students by increasing tuition fees to “unbearable levels”.
An official of the Higher Education Commission in Islamabad told Dawn that funding to universities was the responsibility of the provincial governments after abolition of the Concurrent List in light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
He said the centre had allocated Rs65 billion for countrywide universities in the current financial year.
“The federal government has issued strict directives to the HEC to first fulfil financial needs of government universities in Islamabad and then release the remaining funds to universities in other parts of the country,” he said.
The official said the provincial government should arrange funds for the local universities by themselves.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023