The government is working on a commercial policy for universities to make them self-sufficient by generating their own resources. This was revealed during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which met with Mushtaq Ahmad Khan in the chair.
Higher Education Commission (HEC) informed that working is underway on a commercial policy for universities, which will help them in generating their own resources. The HEC is likely to approve the policy by the end of the current month.
The committee was briefed on the financial constraints faced by COMSATS and other universities as well as problems being faced by the administration and students due to shortage of funds, and on virtual campus regulations. The Workers Welfare Board also briefed on the non-clearance of Rs. 500 million dues of COMSATS University.
The secretary Workers Welfare Board informed the committee that a breakup was taken from COMSATS University according to which the Board had to pay Rs. 221 million. The federal government has given a cheque of Rs. 1.8 million to the university. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has assured of giving Rs. 63 million in a week. Punjab province has stated that they have given tuition fee and the remaining amount is Rs. 130 million, not Rs. 500 million.
He further said that the university has increased hostel and transport charges. Due to the absence of a governing body for the last one year, an unapproved payment could not be made. The governing body will be set up in the current month.
Rector COMSATS University said that 1,701 students of the workers welfare organization are getting free education.
Their transport and hostel charges are also being paid by the university, which are causing around Rs. 267 million and up till now Rs. 1.3 billion have been spent which resulted in a loss for Lahore Campus. These students are being enrolled from 2004-05.
Replying to the chairman committee’s question, the body was informed when the university building was leased, it was included in the agreement.
Welfare Board officials said that some bills of the university have been paid while others are in the process of being paid.
The rector informed that the total strength of the university was 277 in 2,000 which at present is 36,000, while 66,000 students have already completed their education.
The institution has 8 research centers. The operating budget of the university was Rs. 64 million, which has now been increased to Rs. 8.3 billion.
Development budget has been increased from Rs. 36 million to Rs. 772 million. Development budget from HEC has been stopped since 2008 and after cut on the grants, they do not have funds to pay salaries from the next month, he said, adding about 80 percent budget goes into salary. After a cut of 11 percent, Rs. 252 million budget was decreased.
Due to the increase in inflation and salaries, a total of Rs. 575 million difference occurred and resultantly one of the prime minister’s schemes was closed and rural students suffered badly.
The scholarships to students were reduced from Rs. 1 billion to Rs. 700 million, he said.
The minister said that the government is trying not only to introduce reforms and bring improvement in research and education but also to allow them generate their resources themselves. The committee chairman said that universities’ budget should not be decreased, otherwise they will also go on strike.
The committee recommended for immediate assistance to the universities. It also expressed serious concerns over the increase in use of drugs in universities.