ISLAMABAD   -    The government has shelved the project of converting Prime Minister House into Islamabad National University due to insufficient funds, The Nation has learnt on Friday.

PM Imran Khan in December last year had announced converting the PM House into Islamabad National University (INU). However, now officials said that the project is halted due to non-availability of funds.

A senior official of Higher Education Commission (HEC) wishing anonymity confirmed that there is no development on converting PM house into INU as HEC has no funds for it.

The HEC has also faced 17 per cent reduction in its allocation for Public Sector Development Programs (PSDP) and Rs29 billion have been allocated for the sector for the fiscal year 2019-20.

According to the PSDP documents, seventeen new schemes have been added to the PSDP but the project of converting PM house into INU is not included in it.

The official said that HEC sector is already facing shortage of funds and it cannot start new project without having sufficient allocations for the INU.

He said that HEC has the priority to complete the existing schemes rather than starting new projects.

“HEC wants to focus on already existing schemes and PM has been conveyed about it,” said the official.

The government had also formed a committee to prepare a draft of converting the PM house into INU while a high-level conference was also held to discuss the project.

Officials said that government had spent around Rs30 million on the conference but now the project has been shelved.

Details said that at initial stages, Institute of Advance Studies was to be established at Islamabad National University (INU). The Institute had to form relevant in-house research teams, which in turn had to engage and collaborate with researchers and research institutions within the country and overseas.

In particular, it had to collaborate with and guide various centres of advanced studies established by HEC in recent years.

Subsequently, in order to sustain and enhance the quality of research programmes, the INU had to initiate PhD programmes in critical fields and focus on using the research impact on socio-economic development of Pakistan.

As per the HEC website, the total number of federally-charted universities is 21. Sixteen are public while 5 are private sector universities. Other than full universities, a number of campuses of other universities are also established.

Just 5 kilometres from the INU, country’s top ranking Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) is also situated, which is currently facing the deficit of nearly Rs500 million.

The university experienced the worst administrative crises in previous year while also struggled with the illegal occupation of land and less facilities for students.

Out of total 17 new schemes of HEC, 5 projects will be initiated in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 2 in Balochistan and 1 each in Sindh and Punjab provinces.

The new schemes include construction of hostels/sports facilities at Karakoram International University, construction of University of Mines and Minerals in Naukandi and development and extension of Bolan University of Health Sciences, Quetta.

Establishment of Federal Institute at Hyderabad, establishment of National Centre for GIS and Space Application, establishment of National Centre for nano-sciences and nano-technology, establishment of new campus of University of Technology have also been allocated funds.

New schemes also include establishment of Pak-China National Research Center on Earth Sciences at Quaid-e-Azam University, establishment of Woman Campus of Kohat University of Science and Technology, establishment of Woman Sub Campus at Batkhela, University of Malakand, and Higher Education Development Programme of Pakistan.