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Over 130 Pakistani Students Sent Abroad By HEC Never Returned

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At least 132 Pakistani scholars who were sent abroad by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) on various scholarships have failed to come back, an audit of the education commission revealed.

The HEC has even failed to recover the cost of training from these scholars, audit officials told a sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) convened by Alam Khan.

At this HEC officials informed the committee that they have made some recoveries and that the case was already in court. “He asserted that the audit officials dismissed the related para from the report,” the report added.

Similarly, at least 106 research projects at various universities across the country are pending in spite of the steady flow of funds by HEC over a period of 14 years.

The committee’s convener directed the commission to submit the record of these incomplete research projects with the audit officials, reported Express Tribune. “As per the audit report, HEC issued funds to different universities for research projects. However, some 106 projects of 583 were still incomplete after 14 years,” audit findings pointed out.

The PAC convener also stated that the scholarships should only be awarded to the deserving students, not the well-connected and rich people.

Earlier, the committee expressed annoyance after the HEC chairman skipped the meeting. Alam Khan asked the HEC Executive Director (ED) Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Asghar about the chairman. The HEC chairman arrived at the meeting afterward.

Last week, HEC halted nine PhD programmes in Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, and declared the courses of 10 programmes substandard, reported The News.

The university has been directed to stop admissions in economics, pharmacognosy, basic medical sciences, mathematics, physics, microbiology, zoology, biochemistry and food science and technology.

“HEC further instructed to improve the course outline, hire specialised faculty and improve the facilities of 10 departments ie Management Studies, Education, Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Plant Breeding & Genetics, Agronomy, Horticulture and Soil Sciences,” the report added.

Cuts in fundings:

In June 2018, the HEC decided to discontinue funds to new public universities.

HEC had asked for annual funding of Rs 103.5 billion. However, the federal government has only allocated Rs.59 billion for the next fiscal year. The Rs 59 billion in question are marked for a non-development grant, according to HEC sources.

Dr Tariq Banuri confirmed that no funding will be provided to new universities. According to Dr Banuri, due to fiscal tightening, financial resources are already short for existing universities under the HEC’s ambit. Therefore, it would not be possible to set aside funds for new universities.

The new public universities in question which require HEC funding are spread all across the country, four of them located in Sindh.

Dr Parveen Munshi, who is the Vice Chancellor of Sufism University and also looks after Begum Nusrat Bhutto University, expressed displeasure over HEC’s recent move. While talking to Express Tribune, Dr Munshi acknowledged the provision of NOC for admission without any federal grant.

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