ISLAMABAD-The Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday announced to exclude all newly established universities from awarding them recurring grant in next fiscal year due to shortage of funds.

A statement released by HEC said that due to paucity of funds compared with the requirement, a principle decision has been taken by the HEC regarding newly established universities. 

“During next year, no new university is being added to recurring grant stream of HEC,” it said.

The statement said that almost 20 newly established universities have approached HEC for funding from the next year. The inclusion of new universities would have resulted in a reduction of the allocations to older universities.

Meanwhile, the HEC also announced that a special package of Rs.285 million has been separately allocated for universities of Balochistan and GilgitBaltistan, over and above their normal allocation for the upcoming financial year 2020-21. FATA University has also been prioritised and its allocation has been tripled.

The funding for all universities has been increased strictly on the basis of their performance, as indicated by the number of research publications by their faculty members, the number and amounts of the research grants received, the bandwidth utilized for access to digital libraries and Internet resources, the amount spent on conferences and professional travel, and the number of PhD faculty and PhD students.

The statement also said that the HEC had requested the federal government to allocate Rs.104.789 billion as recurring grant for FY 2020-21. The requirement includes funds for universities as well as for pursuing the HEC research agenda, the start of several new initiatives (NAHE, ETC, HEMIS, PERU, and P-15 Research Universities), funding for the Tenure Track Faculty, funding for the Pakistan Education and Research Network (PERN), and the resources needed to meet COVID-19 related challenges. Despite resource constraints to the federal exchequer, the Federal Government has allocated Rs.70.00 billion to HEC as recurring grant for the next year 2020-21, which represents an increase of only 9.2 per cent in comparison with the current year’s (2019-20) funding of Rs.64.100 billion. 

However, considering inadequacy of funding for next year, HEC has requested the Prime Minister to consider enhancement in the budgetary allocation to HEC. In two separate letters, Chairman HEC also apprised the Federal Minister for Federal Education & Professional Training, and Adviser on Finance and Revenues, of the enormously deleterious consequences of inadequate allocation to higher education. Both offices have been requested to intervene at this critical movement and enhance HEC’s budgetary allocation for next year. Meanwhile, HEC has carried out a rigorous exercise for allocation of funds amongst HEC National Research Programmes, different type of universities / HEIs considering their needs and availability of overall funding, and HEC secretariat expenses, etc. which constitute less than one percent of the total allocated funds.