Denying reports of a cut in the Higher Education Commission (HEC) budget, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has clarified that there was ‘no question’ of reduction in the budget allocated to the HEC.
The prime minister said in a tweet on Monday that he was well aware of the negative effects budget cuts can have on the HEC, and that there was no question of any such cut being executed.
He further said that he has given clear directions to the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance regarding the matter of HEC financing.
Previously on May 26, the HEC had issued a statement on Twitter stating that Vice Chancellors of various universities were ‘shocked’ at the drastic budget cut for the higher education sector, saying that it will be impossible to pay salaries and pensions, let alone meet all the expenses.
Over 120 university heads met virtually on Thursday to express their dissatisfaction over the unprecedented budget cut and to devise a plan to appeal to the prime minister, finance minister and the education minister to look into the matter.
They provided the ministries with a rationalized demand for a new budget after an assessment process by a combined Assessment Committee of HEC and Ministry of Finance of the required for 100 current universities, 49 Research Centres/Institutes, and 18 new institutions (eligible for financing), stated the notification.
“It must be acknowledged that education is as essential as the country’s defence and security,” HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri said at the meeting. He expressed his concern that, if implemented, the budget cut would plunge the higher education industry into chaos, and have negative ramifications for the country.