Public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are facing a severe financial crisis, with the two top universities, the University of Agriculture (AUP) and the University of Peshawar (UoP), on the brink of closure.
Employees of these institutes have not been paid their salaries and pensions for the month of September. A senior professor at the University of Agriculture said that they would be left with no other option but to announce a complete boycott if the matter remains unresolved. He criticized the university’s administration, particularly the vice-chancellor, for the ongoing situation.
The ex-professor and representative of the pensioners, Dr Riaz Khattak, said that his suggestion to pay the salaries and pensions of low-grade employees on a priority basis was ignored. He claimed that the “university had optimum funds for the purpose.”
Dr Jehan Bakht, vice-chancellor of the University of Agriculture, revealed that the University of Agriculture, University of Peshawar, University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, and Gomal University had the most challenging financial situation. He warned that the University of Agriculture and the University of Peshawar would shut down in the next two months if the situation remained the same.
Dr Bakht stated that they have received a message from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) with funds for October, November, and December amounting to Rs 230 million, which would only be enough to pay the salaries and pensions for the month of September. Similarly, the total amount required to pay a month’s salary and pension of UoP employees is Rs 380 million, but the funds from HEC amount to only Rs 364 million.
The financial crisis facing public sector universities in KP is a serious concern. It is important to note that these universities play a vital role in providing higher education and research opportunities to students in the province. If they are forced to close, it would have a devastating impact on the quality of education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The provincial government needs to take immediate steps to address the financial crisis facing these universities. This may include increasing funding, improving management efficiency, and exploring new sources of revenue. It is also important to note that the federal government has a responsibility to support public sector universities in the provinces. The HEC should work closely with the provincial governments to ensure that these universities have the resources they need to function effectively.