The government has decided to further reduce the budget for Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the next fiscal year by 50 percent. The people of Pakistan were hoping for a constructive change in the field of education by PML-N after their condemning and criticizing statements against PTI’s policies. But this decision has taken everyone to further despair. PML-N has been speaking against the budget allocated to HEC by the PTI government which was 62.25 billion rupees. However, it has cut the budget by more than 50 percent making it Rs. 30 billion for the year 2022-23.
The circular was issued on Monday by the Finance Division stating the budget for the coming academic year. It asked the Higher Education Commission to prepare the budget statement according to what has been decided as the estimated budget for 2022-23 and submit it to the budget wing director of the Finance Division. However, HEC has clearly stated that the budget will never be sufficient for the running of universities and that it will paralyze higher education in the country. Also, it had demanded Rs. 100 billion for the smooth running of the public sector universities. In the statement it said,
“The PTI government had already minimized the HEC budget due to which varsities across the country were facing severe financial crunch. Therefore, a further cut in the budget will monetarily paralyze higher education in the country as a majority of varsities have no capacity to generate funding for annual expenditures.” According to the statistics shared by HEC, there are 150 public universities in the country operating under this institute, 12 centers of excellence, 38 research entities, and many other centers. The funding that comes to HEC has to be used for all the research activities in the above-mentioned institutes and for other purposes.
This is such a huge crisis that under this budget HEC will not be able to fund universities. As a result, they might need to double their fees to meet the expenses according to some experts. The said budget is highly insufficient and might not be sufficient for even the proper functioning of the Higher Education Commission. Experts are of the view that the public universities will not be able to work on the development projects going on in different departments. It will also become difficult to hire new staff and carry out research activities.
If the decision persists and the HEC is forced to operate under the said budget, universities will have to stop offering new courses. This situation will not be less than a disaster for the education sector of Pakistan.