ISLAMABAD About 500 scholars, who were asked to defer admissions and delay their departure by a year, are likely to pursue their respective PhD programme in the foreign universities. The ray of hope comes after the Prime Ministers directives to the Finance Ministry to release funds and the expected approval of loan by the World Bank for the Higher Education Commission. It has been learnt that the students had written letters directly to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani about the issue and the Premier while taking notice of the issue had written a letter to the Finance Ministry to release funds to the HEC so that the students who were due to go abroad for higher studies can pursue their education. The negotiations with the World Bank for $300 million loan are also in progress, which would mitigate the impact of impending cuts in funding and if the Government does not support such scholars the Commission would support them and they would be sent abroad on the priority basis. The universities were barred from awarding new scholarships, which were advertised and the scholars who had not proceeded abroad were asked to defer admissions and delay their departure by a year. About 500 students who were selected by the HEC for PhD in different countries were stopped due to cuts despite that they had secured admissions in the various universities. Most of the selected scholars for higher studies were the faculty members of the universities and rest of them were the students who had left their jobs to proceed abroad but the announcement by the Government to impose cuts put their future at stake. The Commission is negotiating with the Government to exclude the loan from the allocated amount in budget but the Government is insisting that the amount would be included in the budgetary allocations. Besides, spending on the scholars, quality assurance and development projects would be the priority areas on which the spending would be made. It is important to mention here that about 9000 students have already been studying abroad in different countries including Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, Holland, UK, Italy, New Zealand and China.