VCs of KP varsities concerned at huge cut in recurrent grants

PESHAWAR: Expressing serious concern over the huge cut in the recurrent grants for Higher Education Commission for the fiscal year 2022-23, the vice-chancellors of public sector universities on Wednesday urged the HEC not to accept the trimmed funds and press the government to make sufficient allocation for running the higher education institutions in a smooth manner.

“The recurrent grant for HEC has been cut by 56 percent. If the 15 percent inflation is counted the total cut may reach nearly 80 percent. In such a situation, the universities would cease to function. Therefore, we urge the HEC not to accept the grant as despite the grant the universities would stop functioning. So better they be closed down without the grant,” said one of the vice-chancellors during an online meeting with the Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail.

The meeting was convened in an emergency to discuss the situation arising after the huge cut in the HEC grant. The federal government has reduced the recurrent grant of the HEC. The HEC official informed the meeting that the commission had submitted a rationalised demand of Rs104.983 billion to the federal government.

“But the government has approved only Rs30 billion for the upcoming financial year. The allocation made by the federal government is at least 56 percent lesser than the allocation made for the outgoing financial year,” it was informed.

The meeting discussed that the massive cut would have serious implications for the higher education in the country and the majority of the institution may stop functioning. “We are public sector institutions. We cannot generate our own funds on the pattern of private universities. We rely on the recurrent grant given by the government through HEC. If the HEC stops issuing us funds or lessens the amount so drastically, we would be unable to function,” one of the participants of the meeting told the Media.

He said that the provincial government, too, should start taking the matter seriously as education has already become a provincial subject and one day the responsibility of managing higher education would fully fall upon the provincial government. Therefore, the provincial government should start specifying funds for higher education on the pattern of Punjab and Sindh, a vice-chancellor said.

Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail informed the meeting that the HEC had prepared its demand of Rs104.983 billion after extensive homework based on the requirements of public sector universities. She said that the demand had been made for the 100 existing universities, 18 new universities and degree awarding institutions and 49 centers of excellence and institutes.

Imposing such a drastic cut on the HEC’s demand will affect the public sector universities and the state of higher education in the country, she argued. The vice-chancellors opined that the universities would not be able to prepare their budgets keeping in view the current situation.

They said that instead of taking into account the double digit inflation, increase in operational expenses in order to increase the allocation to HEC, the federal government has reduced the funds drastically.

They pledged to take the matter seriously and approach the quarters concerned and press them to revise the allocation, otherwise, this would further aggravate the already difficult financial condition of the universities.