Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor, Ghulam Ali, sounded the alarm on Wednesday, revealing that a staggering 20 out of the 34 public sector universities in the province are grappling with severe financial difficulties during the current fiscal year.
Governor Ali, who also serves as the chancellor of government universities in the province, expressed his concern over the mounting budget deficits that have begun to imperil the stability and continuity of higher education institutions. Speaking to reporters at the Governor’s House, he urged immediate attention to this pressing issue.
Among the universities facing significant financial challenges, the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar reported a deficit of Rs. 977 million, followed by the University of Peshawar at Rs. 469.5 million, and Gomal University D.I. Khan at Rs. 434 million, among others.
The governor attributed the financial woes to the proliferation of universities over the last 15 years without proper planning or adherence to criteria. He stressed that the problem lay in the failure to follow established laws for their establishment and the recruitment of staff.
Governor Ali further lamented that, despite a total expenditure of Rs. 40 billion by the 34 public sector universities in the current fiscal year, only Rs. 1.1 billion had been allocated for research, far from the global standards where research plays a pivotal role in driving industries.
He also raised concerns about the appointment process and eligibility criteria for vice-chancellors (VCs), noting that these issues were affecting the quality of higher education. Governor Ali revealed that a detailed report on VC appointments had been submitted to the chief minister for approval.
In closing, he called on VCs to prioritize improving educational standards and emphasized the need to halt the establishment of new universities in light of the existing surplus. Minister Prof Qasim Jan echoed these sentiments, highlighting the universities’ potential role in the country’s industrial and economic development.