Chairman sees massive disruption in higher education and research
The Educationist Report
ISLAMABAD (Friday – April 19, 2019): A special meeting of the Higher Education Commission was held under the Chairmanship of Dr. Tariq Banuri, Chairman, HEC to review the implications of ongoing fiscal crisis for the higher education sector, and in particular the budgetary projections for FY 2019-20.
It was attended by Mr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Dr. Faisal Bari, Prof. Nisar Siddiqui, Dr. Naveed Malik, Engr. Ahmed Farooq Bazai, Dr. Javeid Iqbal, Dr. Bhawani Shankar Chowdhry, Federal Secretary, Ministry of S&T, and representatives of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training as well as Provincial Governments.
The Commission was informed that the projected recurring budget demand of the higher education institutions for 2019-20 was Rs.103.550 billion, while development demand was Rs. 55 billion; however the sector could face unprecedented budget cuts of upto 50 per cent. If this turns out to be true, it would bring about a massive disruption in the provision of higher education and conduct of research.
The Commission expressed grave concerns about these indications, and called upon the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Education Minister to ensure that adequate resources are provided to higher education institutions. Second, the Commission directed the Chairman to undertake a sensitivity analysis of alternative budgetary scenarios, with a view to ensuring that essential programmes are not slashed, especially those that sustain the quality of undergraduate education in the country.
Third, the Commission requested Vice Chancellors to invest in greater efficiency and transparency, and identify possible austerity measures which ensure that resources are used most effectively. Fourth, the Commission decided to accelerate the deployment of the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS) in order to enhance transparency and enable increased efficiency.
Fifth, the Commission directed the Chairman to establish a fund raising programme for Higher Education including mobilization of resources from alumni, philanthropists, industry and by attracting a broader array of students includingstudents from foreign countries.
Sixth, the Commission requested the Chairman to arrange meetings of Commission Members with the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and other senior members of the government. Finally, the Commission directed the Chairman to request Provincial Governments to enhance their support for higher education, including supplementary finances for universities.