Syed Ali Shah Analysis:
Two of Balochistan’s public universities are on the brink of financial collapse, employees, officials, and faculty members warned. Temporary bail-out packages by the Balochistan government have been less instrumental/effective in addressing the financial woes of universities.
The educational institutions at the most imminent risk are the autonomous Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) and the University of Balochistan, which have almost financially collapsed.
BUITEMS protesting against non-payment of salaries
Employees and faculty members of BUITEMS have been protesting against the non-payment of their salaries. They also complain that the administration has also stopped other perks and privileges.
After the 18th amendment bill, higher education is a provincial subject and now the Chief Minister Balochistan has more administrative powers than the Governor. The power of the appointment of vice-chancellors relies upon the search committee headed by the CM rather than the Governor.
Over 20,000 students studying in both universities
In both universities, currently, over 20,000 students have been studying. This is a future educational lifeline for Balochistan, already lagging behind other provinces in terms of key social indicators including education, health, etc.
Education becomes the first casualty of a financial crisis in universities. The employees and faculty members are right in demanding their salaries and privileges.
However, a senior administration official in one of the two universities revealed that they (universities) have appointed a huge number of contract and ad-hoc employees with the approval of the concerned fora- Syndicate and Senate.
Recruitment of blue-eyed on ad-hoc basis one of the reasons behind financial crisis
New programs are started without any approval from the syndicate or senate. Many times non-dev budget is diverted toward the Dev side without any approval.
Their current year budget is not yet passed by the Senate. Many statutory positions are filled on an ad-hoc basis and blue-eyed ones are adjusted instead of properly advertising them.
The current VC of BUITEMS has remained as VC for around 17 years, which is a record tenure, the official revealed. This key official terms these issues as the underlying reasons behind the current financial crisis.
Universities cannot afford further agitation
These two key universities cannot afford further agitations and strikes. It is the core responsibility of the Balochistan government to address the financial crisis and order an inquiry into the recruitment and launching of new programs without any approval. Only, ruthless accountability and strict financial discipline can stop these universities from financial collapse.