Public sector universities are facing fund’s shortage and need urgent financial support, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri informed the Senate committee on Thursday.

While briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Professional Training, Dr Banuri said a public sector university expends Rs150,000 per student, while the government just allots Rs50,000 per student.  A few days back public sector universities’ vice-chancellors also lamented the budgetary cuts, adding that a few universities were on the verge of closing and hence needed supplementary grants.

Banuri informed the senators that while more focus was given to issuing degrees previously, now the focus was to improve the overall quality. He admitted that social sciences were neglected  due to issues in the curricula, however, it was now being revised with utmost attention in reinstating its academic stature.

While discussing Pakistani PhDs in both local and foreign universities in the last 10 years, Dr Banuri said 11,991 students completed PhDs from local universities out of which 7,997 were men and 3,994 were women. He said during the same period, 2,160 students completed PhDs from international universities, out of which 1,767 were men and 393 were women.

He said 54 students from Balochistan completed PhDs local, while 91 completed their degrees from abroad. To this, Senator Usman Kakar said that Balochistan had a small share in the higher education despite playing an integral part in the country’s development.

Senator Kakar said public sector universities in Balochistan were facing a shortage of PhD scholars, and hence special measures must be taken to encourage Balochistan’s students to enrol in PhD programmes. He requested that the number of scholarships available for students in Balochistan should also be increased.

Responding to the Senator, Dr Banuri said the HEC has been taking and will take, special measures to provide the maximum facilities to students in Balochistan.

Senators Nauman Wazir Khattak and Mohammad Ali Khan Saif said PhD scholars should carry out research projects on matters that were relevant to the current crisis faced by the country. Senator Khattak said research work produced by PhD scholars had failed in playing a role in country’s progress.

The committee also discussed the issue related to the postponing of the National Technology Council and was informed that the HEC was developing a draft bill after seeking input from stakeholders and will soon forward it to the Ministry of Federal Education. The committee decided to discuss the matter again at its next meeting. The council that was formulated in 2015 to accredit BTech and diploma engineers was not passed by the parliament, and had caused unrest among the holders of the diploma and technician engineers, since then.

The committee also suggested for merit-based regularisation of the services of teachers that were associated with the National Commission for Human Development and Basic Education Community Schools. Ministry officials informed the committee that pending salaries issues have been resolved, while the issue concerning to regularisation of teachers will be taken up with immediate effect as well.

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