ISLAMABAD - Over 10,000 scholars pursuing MS leading to PhD under scholarship programme of Higher Education Commission (HEC) breathed a sigh of relief as the Ministry of Finance released Rs 3.12 billion as development budget of first quarter.

According to information, HEC had not been able to send stipend to the scholars for the last two months due to non-release of development budget by the government and the officials were receiving complaints from the students to release their stipend which the commission releases quarterly.

The government had allocated Rs 15.8 billion as development budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 out of which the allocation of first quarter has been released in the last month of the quarter. The government had not released the last quarter development budget of the fiscal year 2011-12 out of allocated Rs 14 billion due to which the scholars, especially foreign scholar faced tough times in managing food and other living expenses.

Media Coordinator of HEC Murtaza Noor, said as per previous policy, the Commission would immediately release the amount to the students for the payment of stipend, tuition fee and outstanding dues of the scholars, as they are the first priority.   He said, though, contractors are also paid from the development budget for constructions and other development work under various projects but the students have been given first priority so that they can continue their studies with the peace of mind. 

HEC Chairman Dr Javaid Laghari said ‘we are delighted that the Finance Ministry has released the amount of first quarter for development programmes. Though, the Commission has been receiving recurring grant as per commitment but the delays in the release of development funds was one of the major issues as hundreds of scholars were running into serious crises and it will be great relief for them’.

Currently, 10,502 students have been studying under overseas and indigenous scholarship programme of HEC and of them 6,508 have been pursuing their studies in the country under indigenous scholarship programme while 3994 under overseas scholarship programme abroad.