By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE: The Punjab University Academic Staff Association (ASA) has unanimously expressed strong resentment over massive cut in the funding of higher education in the federal budget.
In a press statement, PUASA President Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry has called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to immediately take notice of the drastic budget cut as it would fall hard on his vision of youth development.
He said that the budget proposal mentioning 44 % cut in the higher education budget as compared to the previous fiscal year has caused grave concern to the academic fraternity in particular, and other segments of the society at large.
He said that the HEC budget cuts in the recent years were tantamount to stifling the research and academic activities of higher education, particularly at public sector universities.
He said that the government intends to provide only 43 billion rupees against HEC’s demand of Rs 103 billion while this cut would adversly impact various aspects of university working e.g. TTS program, research incentives etc.
He said that public universities serve to all demographics of the society and tend to be the only option available to the students from the lowest income groups to attain higher education.
He said that public sector universities are funded worldwide by their governments.
He said that Pakistan’s population pyramid was bottom heavy and a large portion of the populace was school or college / university age.
He said that thus, the number of students vying for admissions and education in public sector universities was ever increasing.
He said that this had put immense stress on public sector universities, since this population demographic structure implies increasing number of students to be handled by these universities over time.
Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry said that a cut on expenditure today cannot be compensated by a matching increase in the future and it can strangle the ongoing research processes at the universities. He said that this loss to the society will be unrecoverable, so this policy of budget cuts would severley impact the future of Pakistan. He said that Pakistan’s governments over the years have made a conscious effort to accumulate minimum critical mass of high quality researchers and academic by providing scholarships towards higher education.
He said that these professionals were hired in large numbers by universities and such cuts will take away the incentives for these professionals to stay in Pakistan, which may result in brain drain towards greener pastures.
He emphasized that the priority shall be education in general, and higher education in particular as per the promise of PTI’s election manifesto.