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HEC looking into other options to run projects

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HEC looking into other options to run projects
« on: June 04, 2010, 01:58:36 PM »
HEC looking into other options to run projects

Islamabad: After a massive budget cut, Higher Education Commission (HEC) looking into other options to run its various projects where the rationalisation of fee structure in universities is the most considered option.

The budget approved in National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held on 28 May is only Rs15.8 billion for the fiscal year 2010-2011 against Rs18.5 billion proposed and approved by Annual Plan Coordination Committee (APCC).

HEC demanded 30 per cent increase in the budget for year 2010-2011, but received a negative response. The development budget for the fiscal year 2009-2010 was Rs22.5 billion in which the cabinet cut down Rs4 billion leaving 18.5 billion with the HEC to continue its various projects.

Now with Rs15.8 billion, HEC is left with no option but to find out various ways for the income generation and to change the feasibility of various big projects, said HEC Executive Director (ED) Dr Sohail Naqvi.

"What we need to do is to stand on our feet and look into the possible ways of income generation and fundraising. The best available option in front of us is to rationalise the fee structure in universities while protecting the students who are unable to pay big fee," he said.

He admitted that the budget cut would definitely have negative impact on the rate of growth but the current budgetary realities were so severe that they could not do anything but to go for self-reliance. "We have to generate consulting opportunities, research grants and philanthropist activities within the universities so that the universities could produce their own money in order to start new projects or to complete those which are in pipeline," he added.

Naqvi, however, lamented that education was not a priority of the government as it should have been, and said that spending on education sector means investing for the prosperous Pakistan. He also referred to 'Iqra Tax' which was once used to be applied many years ago for the development of education sector.

According to the information, HEC is currently spending around Rs10 billion for the various scholarships programmes and cutting the scholarship budget would put the future of many students at stake who are currently studying at various international universities.

While replaying to the question regarding the future of scholars, Naqvi said that they had decided not to cut the scholarship budget for the programmes which are currently in process but to cut down the budget for developing infrastructures. "Those who are studying abroad would continue with their studies however they would definitely revise the upcoming scholarship schemes," he said while adding that they would also not compromise in giving charming opportunities to the scholars who would come back after completing their studies.

He further explained that they were in reviewing process of each project and after that they would decide what could be done to survive in the present circumstances. "What we have decided till now is to change the feasibility of ongoing and new construction project. i.e the project which was to be completed in 6 years would now be completed in 10-12 years," he said.

Naqvi said that the mission of HEC is to create accessible university education for every student. He quoted the recent figures where there is one in six intermediate students getting admission in university. "In the recent admission tests in NUST, more than 30,000 students having 60 per cent marks in FSc appeared against 2,000 seats which means there is no dearth of talent but of opportunities," he said.

He admitted that HEC didn't focus on education at college level, which it should have but said that now they have plans to equally focus on college education as well. "Now we are in process of developing new model where the universities would play their role in providing quality education in colleges. Meanwhile we are also working with provincial government in this regard," he said.

While responding to the criticism regarding the PhD scholars who were not coming back, he said one should not expect unrealistic results. According to him the success rate in scholarship programme was far higher than the failure rate. "As many as 70 PhD scholars who were not even sponsored by HEC applied and 40 joined various universities through Tenure Track System (TTS), 45 PhD scholars who were partially sponsored came back and serving while 760 PhD scholars who have completed under HEC sponsorships are serving in Pakistan," he said while adding that they were not denying failure but it was not as huge as the success.

Naqvi said that they had not received any assurance from government to increase the budget for HEC so far but they would look to find out some sponsors like United States to sponsor various programs under HEC. The news