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Public universities across province suspend classes due to HEC budget slash

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Public universities across province suspend classes due to HEC budget slash
KARACHI: All public sector universities in Sindh, including the University of Karachi (KU), NED University of Engineering and Technology and Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST), Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) boycotted educational activities in protest on Wednesday.

They protested against the shortage of funds and demanded the government to provide necessary funds to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on a priority basis.

KU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui said the strike in the varsities was being observed on a call given by the Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association (FAPASA).

The cut in the budget of the universities would augment uncertainty and agitation and create unbearable losses for the universities, he said.

In view of this problem, Prime Minister formed a committee, which held a meeting on September 21, 2010 wherein the representatives of the universities informed the government about the problems. The VC said that another burning issue was the problem of pupils, who were studying abroad on scholarships; the government should fulfil its commitments with regards to the completion of their studies.

DUHS Pro-VC Dr Umer Farooq said that education plays an important role in the progress of any nation but apparently education and heath sectors are not the government’s priorities.

He pointed out that the government had already decreased the budget of universities last year, because of which new development projects were abandoned, and now even the existing projects would also be halted.

“We will go back 10 years as a result of these measures,” he said, adding that during the last eight years, research works increased in Pakistan, but due to the latest measures by the government the research environment would suffer.

KU Teachers Association President Dr Abid said it is a token strike, which is being observed all across the country, adding the cut in the HEC budget was a conspiracy against higher education in Pakistan.

“We condemn the anti-education behaviour of the government and demand for the resignation of the finance minister because of his statements,” he said, adding that if the government wants to close the universities, then it should close universities through a notification instead of adopting such measures.

Dr Abid said the government has asked universities to generate their own funds, which is impossible for public universities, and such a demand was an injustice to public universities.

Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association (SPLA) Senior Vice President Prof Dr Iftikhar Azeemi said when contacted that SPLA supports the protest of universities.

He said the government should decrease its own extraordinary lavish expenses instead of cutting the educational budget.

Azeemi said research work was halted at the universities across the country due to a lack of funds, which is a matter of great concern for the entire nation.

He demanded the government to increase the HEC budget, or else the future of higher education in Pakistan would be bleak.

As per sources, the universities would continue the protest on Thursday (today). agencies.Daily times
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