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IStakeholders demand for increase in the higher education allocation in budget (2021-22). 5th June 20, 2021: For the last five years, the higher education sector in Pakistan is facing sever financial crisis due to continuous static budget allocation  which is insufficient to meet the requirements of 139 public sector universities with 92 sub campuses. am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

It was stated during the Pre Budget Education Dialogue, organised by Anjuman Tubla Islam (ATI) at Islamabad Hotel, which was attended by Syedd Hassan Murtza (MPA, PPP), Mian Imran Masood (Ex-Education Minister, Punjab),Husnain Mustfai (Secretary General ATI), Dr Nek Muhammad (President FAUPASA), Prof. Dr. Tahir Hijazi (Vice Chancellor, Muslim Youth University), Kanwar Dilshad (Ex-Secretary, ECP), Mazhar Barlas (Senior Columnist), Muhammad Murtaza Noor (Higher Education Expert) and other stakeholders of higher education sector. The speakers demanded that current financial crisis, inflation, and COVID-19 triggered economic slump that worsened these financial issues multifold. To tackle these financial crises in effective way, the stakeholders demanded for a substantial increase should be ensured for  higher education sector  in the upcoming budget for 2021-22.

Following through deliberations, it was unanimously resolved that Rs. 150 billion should be allocated as recurring budget for the higher education in the 2021-22 budget. During the current financial crisis survival for teaching and research faculty of the higher education sector is difficult.  Therefore, participants demanded for at least 25% increase in salaries and a tax rebate of 75% for researcher and teaching community. A similar relief in pension was also suggested and the idea of freezing pension at certain level was strongly rejected. The participants endorsed the stakeholder’s recommendations during the recent consultation sessions on the topic of “Budget 2021-22: Needs & Expectations of Higher Education Sector” and urged for a special COVID-19 relief package for higher education sector, in the country, similar that given in other sectors. The participants stressed for the allocation of at least Rs. 150 billion in new budget, as recurring budget for higher education, to overcome years long deficit and financial imbalance currently faced by Pakistani universities. It was also resolved that all the stakeholders especially should be involved in budget and higher education policies formulation processes.

Following through deliberations, it was unanimously resolved that Rs. 150 billion should be allocated as recurring budget for the higher education in the 2021-22 budget. During the current financial crisis survival for teaching and research faculty of the higher education sector is difficult.  Therefore, participants demanded for at least 25% increase in salaries and a tax rebate of 75% for researcher and teaching community. A similar relief in pension was also suggested and the idea of freezing pension at certain level was strongly rejected. The participants endorsed the stakeholder’s recommendations during the recent consultation sessions on the topic of “Budget 2021-22: Needs & Expectations of Higher Education Sector” and urged for a special COVID-19 relief package for higher education sector, in the country, similar that given in other sectors.

It was also demanded that the federal and provincial governments and especially HEC should seriously consider the severity of the ground realities while allocating budget for the higher education sector. For instance, the inflation rate of 14.5%, increase in access to higher education from 1.76 million in FY 2017-18 to 2.06 million in FY 2020-21, increase in number of PhD faculty from 15,028 in FY 2017-18 to 19,978 in current FY 2020-21 and increase in number of public sector universities from 99 to 138 with 92 regional campuses during last five years should be considered in the budget. During the dialogue, it was pointed out that despite of the significant increase in the national budget during the last five years, the HEC ‘s recurring budget remained stagnant i.e., Rs. 63.183 billion in 2017-18, Rs. 65.020 billion in 2018-19, Rs. 64.100 billion in 2019-20, same allocation of Rs. 64.100 billion in 2020-21 and Rs. 65 billion, proposed allocation for 2021-22. These allocations remained insufficient to meet the requirements of higher education section in the country.