ISLAMABAD The vice chancellors of the public sector universities feared that their employees might go on strikes resulting in closure of the campuses in case the government fails to release their allocations even for salaries leaving apart development projects. In this precarious state of capital with the government in the wake of economy crumbling after floods, some of the public sector universities were even on the verge of bankruptcy. Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh came down to the meeting of VCs in Islamabad but gave them a cold shoulder rather any assurance on immediate release of funds to them. He rather urged upon them to generate funds on their own to move towards self-reliance in terms of financial requirements as they were competing with the private sector universities minting money, sources privy to the meeting said. The Vice Chancellors Committee Meeting held on Thursday was presided over by Dr Javaid R. Laghari Chairperson Higher Education Commission (HEC) to discuss the issue of financial crunch they were faced with. Vice chancellors of all the public sector universities from across the country participated while Minister Shaikh and Dr Nadeem-ul-Haq, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission came down to listen to their plight. Later the representatives of the vice chancellors held a press conference to inform the media about worsening budget situation of the higher education sector. They said if the government does not allocate the supplementary grant of Rs. 7.5 billion for the universities employees like it has allocated for all the government employees as announced in the budget, the employees of the universities including teaching and non-teaching staff would refuse to work and offices of the universities would be closed down. It was informed that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the employees have threatened to close the offices from September 20 if they are not given 50 per cent rise in the salaries and 15 per cent medical allowance. During the meeting the Finance Minister constituted a committee comprising vice chancellors and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission to look into the issue, but the vice chancellors rejected the idea of making another committee instead of resolving the issue. The vice chancellor were of the view that the government should impose cuts on the non-productive sectors and exclude higher education sector from the implications of financial constraints. Imtiaz Hussain Gillani, Vice Chancellor of UET Peshawar said the universities must be provided the grants at least for the already approved and completed projects, as it is the responsibility of the government. He said the universities couldnt be privatised as education is not a commercial commodity. The vice chancellors suggested that government should divert the funding of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and funds allocated for IDPs to the higher education sector as its a long-term investment and future of the nation depends on this sector. If the government can give the subsidy of Rs. 250 billion on different items why cannot it spend on higher education sector, they questioned. Vice Chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Dr Masoom Yasinzai said the vice chancellors are conscious about the financial crunch being faced by the country but higher education sector must be exempted from its implications as future of generations depends on access to quality education at higher education level. He said the professors are feared that they have no future in the country and three of the professors of QAU have left for Middle East countries. Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, Vice Chancellor of Karachi University, said the universities have been getting same amount in terms of recurring budget for the last three years. The government also did not allocate any supplementary grant for pay raise of 50 per cent announced during the budget 2010-2011. Thus the varsities were unable to pay enhanced salaries to their employees. He said the employees of the universities are perturbed over the step motherly treatment by the government towards them. Dr Nasir Ali Khan, Vice Chancellor of Institute of Management Sciences Peshawar, said the vice chancellors should resign, as they cannot face their employees who demand 50 per cent raise in their salaries like all other government employees. The security issue of the academicians also came under discussion and they condemned the kidnapping of Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College University Peshawar, Muhammad Ajmal Khan. It was divulged that the government has asked the vice chancellors clearly that they are responsible themselves for their security and the government would not do anything in this regard. The vice chancellors criticised the indifferent attitude of the government saying that in such economic conditions when the universities are unable to pay even the salaries of their employees, it would not be possible for them to take security measures.