ISLAMABAD-The vice chancellors committee on Tuesday urged the federal government to release around Rs10 billion in supplementary grants to meet the higher education institutions recurring expenses.

This was stated by the VCs committee head and VC Quaid-e-Azam University Dr Ali Shah including acting rector COMSATS University Islamabad Dr Raheel Qamar, rector International Islamic University Dr Masoom Yasinzai, VC Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University Dr Razia Sultana, VC Gilgit-Baltistan University Naeem Khan and VC Bacha Khan University Dr Syed Sibtain in a press briefing held here.

The VC committee in the previous meeting had vowed searching alternate mode to generate funding to support their expenses, but after few months, the VCs of public sector universities came with a demand to government to at least restore their previous fiscal year grants to maintain their expenses.

Briefing media, the VCs committee chairman Dr Ali Shah said that the body had passed a resolution that it was difficult to run universities in this situation and the government should release supplementary grants of Rs10 to Rs12 billion to face the financial crunch. He said that though universities were in need of minimum Rs82 billion to maintain their recurring expenses but government should at least restore the previous fiscal year amount.

He said that last year the allocated recurring budget for public sector universities was Rs65 billion, while this year, 9 per cent cut had been imposed on the grants and total received amount to universities was Rs59 billion.

Dr Ali said that universities could not reduce salaries of the staffers, while a huge chunk of amount was spent on paying utility bills and purchasing research equipments of the varsities. He added that hiking fees would be the last option for universities which would be around 5 percent only, but fees collected from new students would also not cover the financial gap created in the universities, he said.

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“The current financial situation has taken the universities to the verge of closure,” he said.

Replying to a query by The Nation, he said that alternate fund generating models including utilisation of research of the universities in the industry was a long-term plan which would take around five years to produce positive results. “We are working on alternate models but it is a gradual process” he said.

Chairman VC committee also said that if government did not help universities, quality of education will be comprised and will put students into stress.

Dr Ali said that a committee would be formed to take the issue on highest level and a dialog will be held with public representatives to sensitize the issue. He said that a meeting of the VCs will be held in Higher Education Commission where Advisor on Finance, minister for planning and development and federal minister for education Shafqat Mehmood will be invited to highlight the financial problems of the universities.

Rector IIU Dr Masoom Yasinzai said that quality of higher education had a direct link with the funding and government was requested to respond the call of the public sector universities. Rector CUI Dr Raheel Qamar said that if such severe financial cut would be imposed on universities, they would not have sufficient finances to pay the salaries of the staff.