Federal Government Slashes HEC Budget
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Federal Government Slashes HEC Budget

Federal Government Slashes HEC Budget

In a dramatic shift, the federal government has announced a significant reduction in the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) budget for the fiscal year 2024-25. The budget has been slashed from Rs. 65 billion to Rs. 25 billion, exclusively targeting federal universities.

This budgetary cut is accompanied by a new policy directive that mandates the Federal Higher Education Commission to stop funding public sector universities in the provinces, placing the onus of financing on the provincial governments. Initially, the HEC had sought Rs. 126 billion to support over 160 public universities across the country. However, the Planning Commission has reduced the development budget from Rs. 59 billion to Rs. 21 billion, further constricting the financial resources available to the HEC.

A letter from the Finance Ministry has been sent to provincial governments, instructing them to independently secure funding for their universities. This directive signifies a substantial shift in the financial responsibility for higher education from the federal to provincial governments.

HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar has confirmed receiving communications from the Ministry of Finance regarding the budget cuts. He voiced his concerns over the potentially severe repercussions for universities, indicating that the reduction in both the recurrent grant and development budget could cripple the higher education sector. Dr. Mukhtar disclosed that he is actively engaging with the finance minister and the prime minister in an effort to address the funding shortfall.

“The HEC budget was Rs. 65 billion in 2018, and now it has been reduced to Rs. 25 billion. This reduction is alarming and could severely impact the quality and accessibility of higher education in Pakistan,” Dr. Mukhtar stated. He emphasized the critical need for adequate funding to maintain and improve the standards of higher education institutions across the nation.

The new budgetary measures and funding policies have sparked concern among educational stakeholders, who fear that the financial strain on provincial governments could lead to a deterioration in the quality of higher education. As the provinces scramble to adjust to this new financial reality, the future of higher education funding in Pakistan remains uncertain.

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