Islamabad - Higher Education Commission (HEC) has received a major share from the budget in education sector, as the government has allocated more than Rs35 billion for old and new projects under the sector.

As per documents with The Nation, Rs3566.801 million have been set for on-going and new schemes of higher education sector.

Out of 146 projects of Higher Education Commission (HEC), 105 are on-going and 41 new projects are introduced. Around 41 new schemes are also included while 13 are unapproved projects.

For the ongoing projects Rs26474.150 million has been allocated while for new Rs9188.65 million have been set.

In on-going projects of HEC for the fiscal 2017-18 Rs25857.819 million is local PSDP while Rs616.331 million is foreign component.

The details said that in previous monetary year, total expenditure remained Rs73963.539 million.

Meanwhile, the total estimated cost for the new schemes in higher education sector is Rs48094.839 million in which Rs 9188.651 million is local component.

Around 19 fresh schemes of HEC will cost above Rs100 million, 13 above Rs200 million, 06 of Rs300 million. 

The new schemes included in PSDP 2017-18 are Pak-USAID Merit and Need Based Scholarships Program in which PSDP will share the fund of Rs577.125 million and USAID will share Rs2377.682 million.

The other projects included are strengthening of Institute of Bio-Technology at Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, development of new campus of Government College University Faisalabad, bridging the job market skill gap for general post graduate degree holders, establishment of national facility for laboratory Animal Research and Care, HEJ University of Karachi, provision of academic and research facilities and girls hostel at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, provision of accommodation facilities for female students in Public Sector universities, development of National University of Medical Sciences Rawalpindi and others.

The unapproved schemes included establishment of permanent campus of Comsats Institute of Information & Technology (CIIT), Kala Shah Kaku, for the project Rs300 million have been allocated.

Establishment of Enterprise Resource Planning System and IT training for 100,000 youth for which Rs500 million have been allocated, for modernisation and up gradation of labs in engineering universities Rs200 million have been allocated.

RS100 million has been allocated for Global Youth Internship program.  The on-going projects included development of Fatima Jinnah Women University Campus-II for which Rs300 million have been allocated.

For up-gradation and upgrading of Core Engineering Departments in Mardan Campus of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) University of Engineering & Technology Rs400 has been allocated.

Similarly, for establishment of FTA University Rs.400 has been allocated. 

Under master leading to PhD Scholarships Program for the students of Balochistan Rs274 million have been allocated and Rs550 million have been set for Indigenous PhD fellowship under which 5000 scholars will be awarded fellowship.

For provision of higher education opportunities for students of Balochistan and FATA (Phase-II) Rs300 have been allocated. 

Rs400 has been allocated for School of Dentistry, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University, Islamabad and Rs400 million for strengthening of Academic and Research Program at Bahria University. Commenting on the budget, Dr Kaleemullah, President All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (ASA) in conversation with The Nation said that overall budget including developmental and non-developmental projects for higher education for fiscal year 2017-18, has been increased from Rs79 billion to Rs97 billion this year.

He said that recurring budget has been increased from Rs58billion to Rs62.184 billion and development budget Rs21.486 billion to Rs35.622 billion.

He said the proposed budget was not got approved by HEC board and even provincial governments & other stakeholders were not consulted.

About 89 per cent universities 160 out of 183 are universities, which are under the domain of provincial governments.

He said there has been not so much increase in recurring budget which is meant for day-to-day expenditure of universities, research and hiring of faculty etc.

The past patterns of last three years indicate that allocations especially for new development projects remained mere allocations as no significant utilization was made against the allocated amount.

According to Federal Audit Report 2015-16, 47 per cent of total development budget Rs1324.67 million out of Rs2762.30 million remained unutilised.

Similarly, in 2014-15, 28 out of 54 and in 2015-16, 37 out of 56 new development budgets indicated in PSDP, remained unapproved and universities could not benefit in real terms.

In 2016-17, the number of new development projects decreased to 39, out of those only four were approved one which meant the release of funding is conditional to approval by competent forums.