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Peshawar University in dire financial straits

July 28, 2012

PESHAWAR, July 27: Financial woes of the University of Peshawar have enormously increased with officials blaming them on establishment of new government universities in the province and provision of small funding from the Higher Education Commission.

A senior official told Dawn on Friday that the university, which was considered mother of all institutions in the province, faced a shortage of Rs864 million.

“The university has lost 70 per cent of its revenue since new universities have emerged,” he said, adding that the current shortfall would increase if provincial government didn’t approve special grant of Rs500 million.

Sources said the university was receiving maintenance grant from HEC, which released 50 per cent of the total grant committed in fiscal year 2011-12 adversely affecting financial health of the institutions.

They said creation of new universities had resulted in squeezing scope and revenue of the UoP, which was established after creation of Pakistan but its jurisdiction had been confined to Peshawar district.

They said the university was generating sufficient revenue through its affiliated colleges and other institutions.

“Now, these colleges have been affiliated with the new universities. Some big institutions like Khyber Medical College, Frontier College for Women and Islamia College have been upgraded to universities affecting the university’s revenue,” a source said.

Over the last decade, the government has established 17 new universities in the province. However, these universities, too, face serious financial and trained manpower problems.

In certain cases, campuses have been converted into full-fledged universities.

An official said recently, an associate professor had been appointed vice chancellor of the newly-established university in the province.

He said in many universities, lecturers had been appointed heads of departments and faculties due to unavailability of qualified professors in the respective disciplines.

Increase in the staff’s salary in line with the government announcement has burdened the university over two years.

The government had announced 50 per cent increase in 2010-11 and then 15 per cent additional raise in 2011-12 and 20 per cent increase in the current fiscal year which overstretched budgetary deficit of the UoP.

“The government takes credit for increase in salary but doesn’t compensate universities,” an official said, adding that the university was not in position to meet the gap by increasing tuition and other fees.

“Being one of the oldest universities in the country, the UoP has around 14,000 students in morning and evening shifts,” an official said.

He said the university was bearing the burden of a few constituent colleges and schools by its own resources. He added that these constituent bodies and affiliated colleges were a major source of the university’s income.

The official said the university annually paid Rs100 million salary to staff and spent Rs10 million on electric supply, while its daily expenditure ran into millions of rupees.

“The management has installed 30 power generators in faculties and hostels and each generator costs Rs8,000 a day,” he said.

When contacted, UoP director (finance) Iftikhar Hussain said the management was taking certain austerity measures to narrow the gap between income and expenditure.

“The university needs the provincial government’s help to pull itself out of financial crisis,” he said.

The director said to cut its expenditure, the university had suggested a ban on purchase of new vehicles, renovation work, unnecessary expenditure and appointments.