LAHORE: Representatives of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Punjab Chapter have demanded a massive increase in Higher Education Commission (HEC) budget, increase in allowance and 75 percent tax rebate for university teachers.

In a press conference held at the GC University, Lahore, President FAPUASA Punjab Dr Abdul Sattar Malik, General Secretary Dr Ahtisham Ali and other officials besides ASA representatives of various universities of Punjab presented their demands before the government.

Dr Abdul Sattar Malik said that the higher education sector has been neglected for many years. The budget of the federal government has increased by 30% in the last four years, after which its volume has increased from 5100 billion to 7300 billion, but unfortunately in the meantime, the budget for the current expenditure of higher education institutions, i.e. nearly sixty-four billion, has been frozen, leaving all of Pakistan’s public sector universities in a deep financial crisis and has left many universities struggling to pay salaries to the teachers and the university staff.

The provincial president said that in the last few years, the number of government and semi-government higher education institutions have increased from 100 to 140 and the number of their sub-campuses has exceeded 100, due to this increase in their size their expenditures have increases and it has become a challenge to meet these expenditures. Moreover, instead of promoting a research culture in universities, the government has further reduced research funds over the past four years.

He added that a dark side of the situation is that universities are being forced to increase their revenues, the main source of which has been the increase in student fees. Due to this deteriorating situation, the doors of higher education are closing on the deserving poor and middle-class students.

FAPUASA Punjab demanded that at least Rs 100 billion be allocated in the next budget for the current expenditure of the higher education institutions and at least Rs 50 billion be allocated for research and development. FAPUASA Punjab strongly condemned the discrimination against senior university teachers.

Provincial General Secretary Dr Ahtisham Ali said that grade 21 employees posted in federal and provincial departments have been receiving a 100 per cent special allowance. It doesn’t matter if you get a percentage allowance or not, but excluding Grade 20 and 21 university and college teachers from the list of special allowances is discriminatory and unjust. Therefore, FAPUASA Punjab demands that all teachers of Grade 20 and 21 be given a 25% special allowance like Grade 1 to Grade 19.

Dr Abdul Sattar Malik also expressed concern over the fact that the autonomy of the higher education institutions is being attacked in new ways every day; e.g. these days there is a conspiracy to infiltrate the bureaucracy inside the universities in the name of the Uniform Universities Act through which the HEC’s sovereignty and the autonomy of the universities are being attacked.

PUASA Punjab also expressed serious concerns over the requirement of post-PhD experience for the appointment of associate professors and professors at the universities, effective since March 31, citing working papers posted at various universities. PhDs were created as a condition of experience, but the HEC ignored the recommendations of these working papers and applied the illogical condition of post-PhD experience, which affected the appointment process of thousands of university teachers.

On the occasion, Secretary ASA Punjab University Dr Amjad Abbas Khan Magsi supported the demands of FAPUASA Punjab and said that the decision taken by Governor Punjab without considering the stance of Punjab University teachers regarding ante date appointments should be withdrawn immediately. And given the promise he made in a meeting with FAPWASA Punjab officials in June last year, the decision should be reversed immediately. It may be recalled that the Governor had asked Punjab University to send legislation on this issue through the university Senate.

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