Monday, October 4, 2010

HEC;Financial difficulties of the Universities

Reportedly University Vice Chancellors have threatened to resign over their budgetary difficulties.HEC's under which universities operate, had its budgets phenomenally increased during Musharraf regime.In pursuit of elitist agenda , a crash program was launched to elevate the level of higher(university) education and Science & Technology.The assumption was that by throwing money at something , one improves its quality.All kinds of fancy programs were launched and money was wasted. Some of the programs like building new universities with foreign faculty simply could not take off at all , while other continued with varying levels of output,efficiency and achievements.It was widely accepted that a lot of money was wasted under egotistical and whimsical programs without stake -holders support and objective bases and criteria.

We do not want to go into the details .Suffice is to say that most of those programs are not sustainable and would have to be trimmed or curtailed altogether.Priority has to return to the primary and secondary education.Besides,in the aftermath of floods , a lot of humanitarian rehabilitation of flood victims have to be done.However, there would be practical issues in curtailing programs for which third party contracts have been entered into or the Phd students that have been sent abroad.Such cases would have to be sorted out on a case-to-case basis.Prime-minister has reportedly formed a committee to sort out the issue . HEC and its subsidiary institutions have to return to real life situation and condition away from the aberrations of the past.Vice Chancellors are mature and experienced people and should be amenable to reasonable adjustments.It is not easy and even not advisable to take sharp turns,while contractual obligations should be met.

The need of the hour is that apart from ending frivolous programs , universities should launch programs towards enhancing their incomes and budgetary self reliance. I would not recommend enhancing fees to unaffordable levels,but would make a case of increasing subsidiary earnings through contract research ,endowment funds and fee and rentals.At least some(10-20%) of the budget should be earned through contract research.We have discussed this issue in detail elsewhere.

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