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Govt cuts HEC budget by 20%

M Sharif Rana

Despite claims of promoting higher education in Pakistan, PTI govt. has reduced education budget for the fiscal year 2019-20 up to 20 percent as compared to HEC budget for the year 2018-19. Only 28.64 billion have been allocated for Higher education Commission (HEC) under the public sector Development program (PSDP) for 2019-20 against 35.830 billion in 2018-19 which was later revised downward to Rs 30.961 billion.

“For development budget, HEC had demanded Rs 59 billion but the government approved only Rs 28 billion,” said the HEC chairman in a press conference. For the fiscal year 2019-20, out of total amount allocated for HEC, around 24,887 million will be spent on ongoing schemes, while 4160 million will be used for new projects.

While in the year 2017-18, out of 35.662 billion allocated for HEC, 9188.651 million were spent on new schemes and 26474.150 for new projects. Among ongoing schemes, Rs170 million have been allocated for Centre for Mathematical science (CMs) at PIEAS Islamabad, 229 million for development of Fatima Jinnah Women University, Campus-ii (phase-2) Chakri Road Rawalpindi, 350 million for enhancement of research facilities at UVAs, Pattoki campus in the current fiscal year. Rs 800 million rupees have been allocated for establishment of sub-campus of public sector universities at district level. The government has also allocated 150 million for up gradation of universities of underdeveloped areas.

In scholarships, Rs 350 million have also been kept for the scholars returning after completion of their PhDs, while Rs 520 million for Fulbright scholarship Support Program HEC-USAID.

In the year 2017-18, 550 million were earmarked for the Fulbright scholarships support program of HEC-USAID phase-2, while Rs 527 million had been allocated for Pak-USAID Merit and Need Based scholarship program. HEC has 17 new projects for the year 2019- 20, while around 120 ongoing projects will be completed by the end of the current fiscal year. Last year, 43 new schemes were included in HEC projects.  For new projects, 80 million rupees have been kept for construction of hostel/sports facilities at Karakoram international University (KIU). Total worth of the project is Rs 316.39m.

For Pak-UK Knowledge gateway-HEC, 100 million have been fixed. A sum of Rs 50 million has also been allocated for the construction of the University of Mines and Mineral in Naukandi (total cost Rs 500m) and 300 million for development and extension of Bolan University of Health sciences, Quetta. Total cost of this project is Rs 1.6 billion. Furthermore, the government has also allocated Rs 950 million for Higher Education Development program of Pakistan, while Rs 500 million have also been allocated for establishment of Federal Institute at Hyderabad Sindh (total cost 1.9 billion).

The government has also allocated Rs400 million for establishment of Pak-China National Research Centre on earth sciences at Quaid- e-Azam University Islamabad. Rs 300 million have been fixed for establishment of a new campus of National University of technology (total cost Rs2.9bn), while Rs 50 million have been allocated for establishment of women campus of Kohat University of Science and Technology (total cost Rs986.98m).

Similarly, Rs 100m will be spent on Pak-UK knowledge gateway project of the HEC (total cost Rs 832m). Meanwhile, Rs 50m have been allocated for upgrading and capacity building of Pakistan Academy of sciences (total cost Rs 519m) and Rs 289m for uplifting academic and infrastructure facilities at Hazara University, Mansehra, (total cost Rs1.7bn).

It is noteworthy that no budget allocation has been made for religious seminaries, though government had announced regulating the madrassas with the ministry of FE &PT.

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