Government intends to restore HEC funds

Islamabad : The government has decided to increase the annual budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the next fiscal budget to promote the higher education sector in the country.

According to the details, the previous government continued to decrease the annual budget of HEC and it has become difficult for it to provide financial support to the public sector universities that are already facing financial problems.

The official record showed that the PTI government earmarked Rs108.65 billion for development and non-development expenditures in the higher education sector.

The budgetary documents revealed for the fiscal year 2021-22 the government has earmarked Rs108.65 billion—Rs42.4 billion for development and Rs66.25 billion for the non-development expenditure of the HEC.

But the universities had demanded Rs150 billion in development and non-development budget. The non-development budget is meant for 138 public sector universities with 92 sub-campuses.

The vice-chancellors of the universities had time and again deplored the cut in the higher education budget and maintained that the move would dismantle the country’s higher education system by forcing the shutdown of universities, which are already suffering from historically unprecedented budgetary shortfalls and the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

They also passed a resolution that stated the universities were already under enormous financial stress because of the squeezing of their budgets. The Covid-19 crisis further exacerbated the situation, both by increasing costs and by reducing the inflows of tuition fees.

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal has said that the government would put in its all-out efforts to promote the higher education sector in the country.

“We will restore the funds of HEC and meet the financial requirements of the universities. Our special emphasis will be on research because we want our universities to produce students that can have the ability to compete at the highest level,” he said.