The Ministry of the Federal Education and Professional Training (MoFEPT) has asked the Finance Division to reconsider the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan’s Provisional Indicative Budget Ceiling worth Rs 30 billion for the Fiscal Year 2022-23 against the rationalized demand of Rs 104.983 billion.
A letter sent to the Additional Secretary Budget of the Finance Division states; “The Higher Education Commission was allocated Rs.66.250 billion against a demand of Rs 120 billion in FY 2021-22 as per the decision of Finance Division”.
However, Rs 15 billion was also announced to be provided in addition to Rs. 66.250 billion for higher education as the recurring budget for FY 2021-22. “But this amount has not been provided by the Finance Division as yet”.
For the FY 2022-23, a provisional IBC of Rs.30 billion has been indicated which is unfortunately extremely low. The recurring grant allocated to HEC since the financial year 2016-17 has remained almost stagnant and its share as a percentage of GDP has kept on declining to the level of 0.14% in the Current Financial Year.
The comparison of requirements submitted by the HEC and the final allocation by the federal government during the last 5 years has resulted in a huge shortfall in the HEC budget. In 2028-19, the shortfall in the HEC budget remained at 21 percent while it increased in FY 2019-20 to 38 percent. Likewise, in FY 2020-21, the shortfall was reduced by 1 percent to 37 percent, but again it went up 45 percent in FY 2021-22 by 45 percent. In the next FY 2022-23, the expected shortfall will be 71.4 percent.
The ministry in the letter has stated that the higher education sector has witnessed tremendous growth in terms of the establishment of several new universities and Higher Educational Institutes. In addition, all-time high inflation resulted in an increase in operational expenses, maximum rise in the salaries and pension announced by the federal and provincial governments has increased the demand for recurring grants to universities and HEIs as well as HEC national-level programs.
“Public sector universities are currently facing severe financial crunch and unable to pay full salaries and pension allocation of Rs.30 billion is, unfortunately, lower than what was given five years ago and it would hit the higher education sector adversely.
The ministry has appealed to the Finance Division that the Provisional IBC of Rs.30 billion for FY 2022-23 against the rationalized demand of Rs 104.983 billion should be reconsidered so that HEC could smoothly run its affairs and provide grants to the varsities on time.

Related: Government cuts HEC budget by over 50 percent
Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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