l ASA president says due to inflation, HEC funding is ‘insufficient’
l Varsity face Rs800m deficit

ISLAMABAD: The academic staff association (ASA) at Quaid-i-Azam University has urged the government to dole out Rs5 billion to meet the shortage of funds, saying that a severe financial crisis has threatened the normal functions of the university.

“The university faces a budget deficit of approximately Rs800 million. Since January 2023, payments for teaching, lab chemicals, and consumables, student’s fellowships, medical bills, and even office-stationery items, are being kept pending and thus grinding the university to a standstill,” said the president of the staff association in a statement.

The ASA is an elected body of the QAU faculty. The ASA president said that despite the important role and achievements of the university, the QAU has long been grappling with severe financial challenges. It said the funding through the Higher Education Commission has “proved insufficient” as the costs have soared due to inflation over the past several years.

The ASA president appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the HEC chairman, and the education minister to provide a special grant and bailout package to avert the impending financial collapse and to increase the higher education budget in general in order to meet the growing demand.

“Despite showing significant performance and having won the status of the flagship Institution of the country with a rather meagre budget compared to other universities, the QAU receives disproportionally low financial support from the government,” the ASA said, adding that QAU’s performance over the time “clearly justifies a bailout package of Rs5 billion in line with the manifesto of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regarding the higher education funding on the basis of the performance.

With adequate support, QAU can continue its trajectory towards becoming one of the top 100 universities globally, contributing significantly to Pakistan’s educational and research landscape, the ASA president said.

It is relevant to note that in October 2022, during the meeting of the QAU syndicate, the education ministry agreed to facilitate the resolution of the financial needs of the university.

Following the said meeting, QAU’s then acting VC Dr Shaista Sohail in January 2023 wrote a letter to the education ministry for a Rs500 million bailout package to overcome the financial crisis, but it remained futile. Now the ASA is demanding the bailout package.

The ASA stated that founded in 1967 as Islamabad University, later named Quaid-i-Azam University after the country’s founder on his centennial birthday in 1976. The QAU is the only federal university with a charter to cater to the students from all the federating units, including GB, AJK, and urban and rural areas of all the four provinces.

Initially, it was envisioned as a research university with MPhil and PhD programs till early 80s, when MSc programs were offered, and finally, the Bachelor of Science programme was introduced in 2012.

“Today, the QAU has approximately 12,000 students enrolled representing all the federating units of the country... The university has earned a stellar reputation, in teaching and research, and has been consistently ranked as the number one university in the country according to the HEC,” the statement said, adding that the university also achieved a “notable place” on the global stage with a 315th position in 2024 according to QS World University Rankings.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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