ISLAMABAD - The vice chancellors of all leading public sector universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have demanded fair distribution of funds and proportionate representation of all federating units in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) governing board and observance of quotas in appointments in all grades at the commission.

These decisions were announced during a recent meeting of 18 vice chancellors of public sector universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held under the chairmanship of Dr Nasir Jamal, Vice Chancellor Kohat University of Science and Technology   (KUST) and executive member of national vice chancellors' committee. The meeting after detailed deliberations undertook a number of decisions.

The participants were of the view that funds distribution by HEC to universities appears skewed in favour of some provinces. Federal area universities eat up a big chunk of these funds, and there is confusion of "optics" where they belong.

It is suggested that to clarify this confusion and make these universities truly federal, the admission should have a federal character, as is used in Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

The HEC is a federal agency and it is imperative that quotas for provinces and regions for appointments in all grades must be religiously followed. The HEC's governing body - the commission - must, by law, have proportionate representation of all federating units. Since 9 new members have to be directly appointed by the prime minister and this principal must be upheld.

They demanded that federal or provincial governments should enhance salaries of employees in the BPS system, or upgrade their posts. 'Universities also have majority of the employees in BPS cadre: It is therefore imperative that salary increases announced by governments, or up-gradation of posts, must also be applicable to university employees in equivalent cadres, and additional funds be provided for this.

New universities in remote areas are having difficulty in getting or retaining good faculty. It is important that HEC provides additional funds to these universities to maintain quality and standards at par with those located in large urban-centres, said Dr Nasir Jamal Khattak.

The vice chancellors were of the view that while Pakistan has suffered tremendously from the strife and terrorism over the last 10 years, the major brunt has been borne by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"From killed or kidnapped vice chancellors to explosions on campus and constant fear of threats, we are living in dangerous times. Security alone is eating into the already paltry funds that most Khyber Pakhtunkhwa universities are working with. We strongly urge HEC to provide additional grants to our universities and put them back on an even keel," demanded the vice chancellors.