ISLAMABAD "The fate of almost 3,000 students sent abroad for higher studies on the government expenses by Higher Education Commission (HEC), is put at stake after the relevant quarters turned a deaf ear to their concerns especially with regard to the provision of the allocated funds. Sources privy to the development informed TheNation that after the repeated requests and revision of the scholarships of these students sent abroad to different world educational institutes, the finance division is now showing little interest in the matter. The cold shoulder response from the relevant circles also pushed the HEC into a difficult situation, which according to the sources took some measures including the revision of the mode of payment with various universities and institutions in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, United States of America and others. According to the arrangements, the government has to provide funds for the project and under that arrangement the HEC has to pay to the institutes concerned as well as the scholars their tuition fees, stipends and other expenses for a period of one year in advance. The authorities after successful negotiations with the said institutes first got reduced the time period of advance payment to 6 months and subsequently to three months but even then they failed to release the required amount for these officially selected scholars. The sources further said that in meetings with finance division it seemed that the present government wanted to get ride of the students, studying abroad under "HEC Scholarship Programme." It is relevant to mention here that a loss of billions of rupees is expected if the government fails to submit the dues of Pakistani students immediately as a result of which previous investment on these scholars would go in vain. Reliable sources in the Finance Division told TheNation that miseries of the Pakistani scholars were being considered and funds would be released to HEC in a short span of time. However, despite several attempts no official in the Finance Division was available to respond on this serious matter. Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, Member Operations and Planning HEC, when contacted confirmed that HEC was not able to convince the foreign institutes, as it was not possible to make changes in the rules and regulations of said foreign institutes. He further said that due to free education in the European countries HEC scholars in the European institutes were comparatively in better position than those who got enrolled in the other foreign institutes like US, Australia and the UK. Dr Mukhtar however expressed optimism regarding positive response of the government to release funds to the commission. He said that HEC Chairperson Shehnaz Wazir Ali was continuously convincing the finance division to release the funds to regain the confidence of the commission's scholars. Executive Director HEC Dr Sohail H Naqvi, when contacted, told TheNation that HEC negotiations with foreign countries institutes were successful. He said that the HEC had convinced the different countries' organisations, which are playing a bridge between HEC scholars and the respective universities across the world regarding submission of dues in installations. In the prevailing financial crunch, HEC could not pay in advance the pledged amount of HEC scholars to their universities. He suggested that the present government should review its policy regarding HEC. To a query, he replied that no more compensation was expected from the fee schedule of the scholars and if funds were not released future of thousands of the HEC scholars' would suffer. Responding to another query, he said that higher-level education system should be remained autonomous from the Ministry of Education. It is the right time to take benefit from that investment which HEC earlier had made by sending thousands of talented students abroad for qualitative educations in the best ranking universities of the world", he remarked.