December 7, 2021

Budget Cuts: Universities Struggling To Pay Staff, HEC Tells Senate

Islamabad —  Staff at Pakistani universities are expected to feel the heat of higher education budget cuts, Dawn reported on Friday.

According to the news report, a Higher Education Commission (HEC) official told a senate standing committee that universities were finding it difficult to manage staff salaries for December, after the federal government reduced higher education spending in its 2019-20 budget.

The budget, passed in June, allocated Rs. 59 billion for higher education. The HEC has maintained that it requires roughly twice as much to sustain its work.

Read more: Federal Budget 2019: Higher Education Commission Left in the Lurch

“Universities have approached us for help,” the HEC Director General Finance Zaigham Ali was quoted by Dawn to have briefed the committee. “The HEC has cut other expenditures to help two universities pay their staff’s salaries.”

Mr. Ali told the Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology that HEC had recently asked the government to urgently release Rs. 7 billion so universities could manage staff salaries in December.

Fawad Chaudhry, the federal minister of science and technology, defended the government at the committee meeting and said his ministry has “put new projects on hold to fund universities for immediate assistance”, according to the Dawn report. But Mr. Chaudhry also suggested that universities must look towards generating their own income rather than relying on government for funds.

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