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HEC asked to continue financial grants to universities in Sindh

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KARACHI: Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah has asked the authorities of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to continue proper financial grant to the universities of Sindh till 2015 as per commitment made in National Finance Commission (NFC) Award in 2010 failing which the matter would be taken to the Council of Common Interest (CCI). Presiding over a meeting of vice chancellors of all public sector universities in Sindh on Thursday he said during the deliberation for NFC Award it was decided financial assistance to universities would be made by HEC till 2015 as by that time 18th Amendment was not passed. He said all the provinces were on the same page so far this matter was concerned. He directed the Secretary on Universities and Board Mumtaz Ali Shah to prepare the summary in this behalf and submit it to the CCI secretariat. He said despite the responsibility of HEC, Sindh government has made budgetary provision of financial assistance to all universities of public sector in its coming budget of 2014-15 and hopefully their funding would be started from July 2014. He constituted a three members committee comprising senior most vice chancellors to ascertain the problems and bottlenecks in the way of quality education. Placing an example of the IBA Sukkur for delivering remarkable qualitative education, he asked the vice chancellors they could also achieve the same status with their determination and commitment. He said finance was no matter so for education was concern. He said Sindh government was giving priority to education and increasing budget of this sector in hundreds time. In addition to World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other international financial institutions are willing to finance the Sindh government for improving the higher education.Mumtaz ali Shah briefed the meeting about present position of each university. He said Sindh has 18 universities including 3 new and two business institutes. He said expenditure of all universities has been estimated Rs 20,000 million, in which Rs 6,010 million (15 uni) and Rs 6,311 million of HEC grant. Thus created shortfall more than Rs 5,000 million.  Old universities need to be upgraded while newly established universities needs new infrastructure. Besides, they need adequate funds to meet their shortfall. The vice chancellors said after the devolution of universities to the provincial government, the HEC has left its interest and not making financial grants to them except some meagre amount in some cases, thus according to them has accumulated huge liabilities against them. They said if they borrow from banks, they have to pay 18 percent interest. To avoid such situation and meet the shortfall, they are compelled to introduce the self-financed education schemes and getting 9 percent interest from the banks. They said they are not in a position to rehabilitate the old building, carry on own transport system or to make effective research or facilitate their faculty members to get PHD degree. However they expressed satisfaction over transferring the universities to provincial government and expressed their confidence now the higher education to be improved and universities to be developed. 

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