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Cut in HEC funding, NWFP UET in trouble

Cut in HEC funding lands NWFP UET in hot waters
Peshawar, Dec 6: The NWFP University of Engineering and Technology (UET) will "sink deeper into financial crisis" if the government did not release required funding to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), Vice-Chancellor Syed Imtiaz Gilani warned on Friday.

"We are facing severe financial crisis because the government has cut down the HEC funding, affecting us directly," the vice-chancellor said as the fund shortage has also put a question mark over the future of around 50 scholars of the UET who were sent abroad for PhD.

The government released just Rs.3 billion to the HEC against Rs.7.5 billion, forcing the commission to cut funding to the UET which sent some 47 scholars to the US, Canada and the Great Britain for PhD studies in different disciplines the last year.

"I think it will be worst than Talibanisation of the NWFP if this university was allowed to sink into financial crisis," Gilani said moments after the university management met to discuss the situation.

Pakistan is spending less than two per cent of its federal budget on education and experts argue unless the budget is increased to above three per cent, quality education will not be possible to be provided across the country.

The 47 scholars were sent last year and the UET is spending Rs.2.5 million on each PhD student per year on account of tuition fees, accommodation and research work. Each student will spend four years for the PhD degree.

Many PhD students were worried by the "dangerous situation" asking the UET management to call them back if their expenses could not be arranged.

"Imagine with what frame of mind we are studying knowing little we will pay tuition fee next year or not or will we get money for stay and research work or not," a PhD student in London said by email.

Sources said the cut in the HEC budget was partly because of financial crisis the country is facing and mainly due to "politics" as the commission's head, Dr Attaur Rehman, was seen as "remnant" of former president Pervez Musharraf.

A senior educationist at the UET said it would be "a severe blow for these scholars if they are sent back and also not well for the country's image if these scholars return home without PhD degrees.

The HEC also funded PhD doctors abroad from other universities of the country also and according to unconfirmed reports some 3,000 scholars were sent for higher education in western countries.

The UET has sent these scholars for PhD classes following establishment of Jalozai campus - a project of around Rs 7 billion and where 5,000 students will get education in engineering ands technology.

Vice-Chancellor Gilani wondered why other varsities across the country were silent on cut in the HEC funding. "They (other varsities) may not have suffered as much as we are ... Their own resources are good enough to sustain recurring and development expenditures," he said.

Gilani, however, sent a stern warning that this crisis would make public sector varsity as much as public sector school system. The rich will send their children to private institutions but the sufferers will be the poor who cannot go to expensive private universities for education in engineering and technology.

The financial crisis made the UET management decide to launch self-finance scheme from next year, paving the way for the rich students to buy a seat in return for handsome amount. Daily Times

Your Comments
"I think it will be a better option if UET/HEC clear this situation to their scholars. Living in these western countries is very expensive and this issue will really effect students research work. A very feasible solution will be that those students who are in the beginning of their 2nd year of PhD complete their M.Phil degree and come back. There seems no other solution keeping the financial crunch our country is facing."
Name: Hassan khan
City, Country: Peshawar, Pakistan

"Its really a terrible situation faced by HEC. HEC should allocate money for scholars in advance for smooth research work continuation. If this problem is not solved, will lead to a drastic failure."
Name: Adnan Khan
City, Country: Rawalpindi, Pakistan

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HEC affairs?
Education, especially the higher education in science and technology, is a must in this age of survival through competition and specialization. In this connection Prof. Dr. Ata ur Rahman, as chairman, Higher Education Commission, has done his level best to promote the national Higher Education to meet the minimum international/educational requirements. But with the change of government, things at HEC don't look smooth and positive.

A spokesman of HEC has clarified that with the change in government, the entire programme of establishment University of Engineering, Science and Technology (UESTP) has been stopped pending a review by the Cabinet sub-committee. One wonders what such committee could do when the Federal Cabinet is itself incomplete and lacks at present moment the required direction and determination. In such a situation, one wishes that at least, the education department, especially the higher education should not be handled politically.

Education should and must be kept above likes and dislikes of politics. Reports appearing in press indicate that the new Government has reduced the development budget of HEC due to which its chairman Professor Dr. Ata ur Rahman has tendered his resignation, which has not yet been accepted, it seems that a new chairman is being searched. All this is painful. Dr. Ata is not a politician. He knows nothing of politics and polity. He is a scientist, par excellence, a science teacher / researcher of world fame and is at present the only Pakistani scientist who can deliver what we need in the field of world-level education.

In view of this, it is hoped that Dr. Ata ur Rahman would be retained as HEC chairman. Any change for the sake of change, mainly because of change of political government, is not a valid basis for changing/removing the Chairman. It is also hoped that the cuts in the development budget of HEC are restored without any delay.

Prof. Munawar S. Khalid Jhang,

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