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HEC budget only Rs 71 billion!

With only 14 per cent increase the Higher Education Commission will get Rs 71 billion budget for the fiscal year 2015-16 and out of the total Rs 270 million have been earmarked for 5000 PhD scholarships scheme.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has announced that Rs 20.5 billion have been fixed for 143 ongoing projects of the HEC, while the commission was already getting Rs 52 billion in addition to that.
Additionally Rs 4.57 billion have been fixed for the higher
education projects in the annual development plan. Rs 800 million for overseas scholarships of MS/ MPhil, Rs 20.20 million for ongoing and new schemes of Federal Education and Professional Training, Rs 30 million for best teachers’ awards and Rs 30.5 million for national curriculum Council.
Punjab University will get Rs 100 million for upgradation of its some departments, UET Taxila will get 150 million, Hazara University Rs 250 million, Islamia College University Peshawar Rs 100 million, King Edward Medical University Rs 15.58 million for hostels facility, Lasbaila University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences will get Rs 12.5 million. While Rs 5 million for Khyber University Peshawar, Rs 270 million for Govt College University Kala Shah Kaku, Rs 100 million for Institute of Managements Sciences Peshawar. Similarly Rs 50 million have been fixed for President’s project for Overseas Pakistanis and Rs 350 million for Skilled Pakistan Programme and Prime Minister Initiatives.
In a country where students to higher education ratio is very low as compared to regional and global competitors, on a meagre increase of 14 percent in the higher education budget is nothing but the cost of inflation. This reflects that almost no increase has been given in the higher education budget. Further adding to the woes, there is a serious confusion as the moment among universities, Higher Education and Provincial higher education regarding the power to distribute funds to the universities. In the wake of 18th Amendment this issue needed to be addressed and fixed once for all.
Rs 420. 21 million for PhD scholarships for the Baluchistan students is indeed a good step, which would contribute to the strengthening of the federation and promoting a sense of nationalism in the province where a majority of people are unhappy with the federal government.
According to a study conducted by University of Melbourne, the government funding of higher education as a percentage of GDP is the highest in Saudi Arabia followed by Malaysia and Finland, but when private expenditure is added in, funding is highest in the United States and Korea followed by Canada, Chile, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Switzerland and Sweden top the rankings for world class universities per head of population, but the United States and United Kingdom are ranked first and second on the quality of ‘best three universities’.
Pakistan is nowhere in the world universities rankings. There is a dire need to increase higher education spendings with
special focus on research. The student to higher education ratio also needed to be revisited because a large number of
students remain unable to get into universities every year.

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