Pakistan’s Higher Education in Crisis as Govt Shifts Funds to Transport Schemes

Pakistan’s higher education sector is in shambles after the finance ministry backed out on its allocated budget for the year 2016-17. The development budget for all universities has been cut down by more than 60 percent. HEC was originally allotted Rs. 21.48 billion but only Rs. 8.42 billion were released during the whole year,

The slashed amount was transferred by the government to transportation schemes, leaving the education sector and universities in complete disarray. Contractors are chasing vice-chancellors of different universities asking for funds to complete work on under construction buildings.

This is the lowest funds allocation to the HEC since 2004. HEC’s Professor Mukhtar Ahmed has been trying to keep the system from collapsing due to lack of funds.

Lack of Funds

The lack of funds has forced the HEC to slash many important programs which were vital for higher education’s growth. One of the more important projects included the training of faculty at top universities by sending them abroad for further studies.

Until 2008, HEC used to send 1,000 students abroad every year so that it could increase its ‘highly-trained faculty’ and bring the ratio of PHD faculty to students from 1:130 to 1:20. That program, however, has collapsed and only 250 students were sent abroad last year.

University Rankings

HEC’s target has also been made difficult by the federal and provincial governments as 50 new universities have been announced while the hiring of qualified faculty isn’t given priority. Such measures have been declared as superficial since these announcements are made only to receive public support and create a false illusion that the education sector is receiving attention. This completely contradicts HEC’s agenda to improve quality education; rather it lowers the standards even further.

Between 2003 and 2008, several universities were listed among the top 500 institutes of the world, which has seen a decline over the past few years. For example, NUST used to be at 376 in 2008. Nine years later, its ranking has only witnessed deterioration.

Experts claims that this decline is covered by highlighting Asian rankings or subject based rankings instead. Since 2008, all universities have seen lower standards partly due to lack of funds. Good Asian universities like the National University of Singapore have three times the budget of Pakistan’s lot of public sector universities put together.

Research on A Decline

International patents have also seen a decline over the past few years because researchers cannot secure funding from the HEC. Patents also cost a decent sum of money but the HEC can no longer support students for such initiatives. The crises is pretty evident with the fact that 2015 already had a low amount of international patents at 15, 2016 was even lower with just one international patent.

Budget constraints have limited the research segment as well. Sources have mentioned that projects submitted to HEC over a year ago are still pending approval. The program which allowed students to have free access to sophisticated equipment has also collapsed as HEC can no longer pay the bills. Analyses under this program have dropped by 90 percent.

Digital Library

A digital library program was initiated in 2005, which included 25,000 international journals and 65,000 textbooks. It has also seen a sharp decline as new high quality journals are rarely added. Due to the lack of funds, many other programs by the HEC have been several affected as well.

Multiple Educations Authorities

The issues has been escalated due to the establishment of provincial education commissions like the ones in Sindh and Punjab. This doesn’t bode well as far as administration is concerned with three authorities on one matter and all are trying to implement their own regulations on the same universities.

Higher education is usually considered a federal subject in order to maintain standards across the whole country and to ensure international equivalence of degrees, quality assurance and national planning.

Even the Supreme Court was against the establishment of provincial education commissions but it was ignored by the provincial governments.

Final Words

This is not only shameful for the current government which has failed to deliver on its promises for the education sector but also goes on to show the misaligned priorities. The government prefers to spend more money on laptops, roads and buses than it does on education, health and water in the whole country.

Have something to say or want to know more about this? Drop an email at [email protected] or find Aadil Shadman on Twitter (@ashadman25) or Facebook(

He is the Editor-in-Chief at ProPakistani. Reach out at aadil.s[at]

  • Parhnay ke kia zaroorat, motorway aur metro haina. Jab bhook lagay ussay chaat lo, jab pyas lagay ussay chaat lo, jab beemar hoto ussay chaat lo. Aur kia chaheay ?

    • The very intelligent writer giving his intelligent “conclusion” like a school kid writing an essay could have left readers to make a conclusion.

      Without giving any reference that funds from education head were transferred this is so politically motivated 16 years old kid’s writing.

      Sadly no one questioned him from where he got this information that specific funds were transferred. Besides that he did not mentioned any decline in the so called research which Pakistani Universities were doing earlier which is effected, he refereed to decline in patents, what these patents earned HEC or to Universities earlier ?

      Does this so called article takes any say of the government on this to justify what he is saying? Otherwise how long it take to “write” such articles without giving a reason from the other side (government) ?

      In Musharraf’s regime so many were sent for PhD and Masters, how many returned? What was achieved from that ? Any comparison?

      • Sir, It’s ProPTI blog site. They will post anything they feel that can go against the current Govt. No proof required. Disqualification of Nawaz Sharif was big news for propak but no coverage for newly elected PM Shahid Khakan. It’s not worth posting for propak.

        • That guy who has already cases against him? Lol.

          Your party cant even bring someone transparent and clean and here you are talking about coverage.

      • Ok. Let me ask you a specific question. How many MRI machines are there in Lahore hospitals? And how many of them are working? Every been to a Government hospital?

        Ok leave that. Let’s talk about education. Ever seen government universities? I’m sure you’re a ‘privately educated’ person … if you’re one at all.

        It doesn’t take a genius to see how POOR education and health system has been in Pakistan, because all governments focus on tangible things. I don’t need this report (or opinion) to tell me how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things are. I can SEE them around me.

        In the meantime, ap meri jaan, free Laptops le lo shahbaz uncle se … cash prices le lo, while NOTHING is being done to actually IMPROVE the sector as a whole.

    • HEC Ko Itne Funds Ki Kiya Zarorat ???
      Direct Collage & University Ko Do : Aur Parhai Hai Kaha Pakistan Main ???
      Sharif Sirf Road Chahti hai Bus

  • Countries progressed by investing in education but our Government has nothing to do with Education and health sector. Shame

    • Human development is absolute necessary for any nation to progress! It’s easy to make Pakistani public fool if the majority of them is illiterate and education makes it difficult.

  • Sending students abroad is a BIG BRAIN DRAIN, they never bring any progress to Pakistan.
    INSTEAD, more govt universities be made available with good infrasturcture and fascilities.
    Education should be made FREE in Pakistan. spending billions on a few decimal students is a MOCK for other millions of Pakistani youth.

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