PU Syndicate holds ‘illegal’ meeting, approves Rs 9bn budget

LAHORE:June 9: The Punjab University on Thursday held its syndicate meeting despite the stay order by the Lahore High Court (LHC). Teachers held a protest outside the vice chancellor's office and tried to stop the meeting. The meeting of syndicate approved budget for fiscal year 2017-18 of Rs 9 billion however, a number of teachers including elected members of PU Senate and PU Academic Staff Association (PUASA) stormed into the syndicate meeting and staged a protest demonstration outside the vice chancellor's office terming the meeting illegal. Moreover, because of lack of quorum, PU admin could not start syndicate meeting for four and a half hours as only 8 members out of 19 were present in the beginning. Later, at around 2:45pm, Additional Secretary Finance Abdul Samad arrived and the administration wrapped up Rs 9.27 billion budget meeting in just 15 minutes. Earlier at 9:30am, the teachers held a demonstration outside the VC's office. The protesters were holding placards and banners bearing slogans against Provisional Vice Chancellor Dr Zafar Mueen Nasir. The main gate of the VC's office was closed but the teachers strongly protested and the move finally ended after opening of the gate on the orders of the acting registrar. A minor scuffle also erupted between Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir and the media persons. The university administration also had to shift meeting's venue from Committee Room of Vice Chancellor's office to the Committee Room of Planning and Development Wing situated on second floor. Elected members of the senate Dr Kamran Abid and Engr Dr Azhar Naeem briefed the members of the syndicate, saying that the court had stayed syndicate meeting and the approval of the chancellor had also not been sought. They said the meeting had been convened in sheer violation of orders of Lahore High Court. Talking to media outside VC office, PU's elected members of senate and Academic Staff Association including Dr Kamran Abid, Engr Dr M Azhar Naeem, Dr Ayub Afridi, Dr Yumna, Institute of Geology's former director Shahid Samini and others said that the meeting was illegal as the approval for convening the meeting including its agenda items had not been sought from the chancellor as ordered by the Lahore High Court in WP No 20756-16 titled Dr Mansoor Sarwar vs Province of Punjab. They said that even the quorum (10 members of the syndicate) of the meeting was not complete but the VC, who did not have the experience of running a public sector university, continued to hold the meeting in sheer violation of court orders and university act. They said that as per university calendar, half of the total strength of the syndicate was mandatory in attendance to fulfil the requirement of the quorum and there should be at least 10 members present in the meeting. Dr Kamran Abid said that the VC did not care about stature, rules and regulations of the university. He said that Provisional Vice Chancellor Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir had increased student fees thus dropping a "fee bomb" on poor students. He further added that Dr Zaffar Mueen was taking every step to destroy alma matter of the poor people and promoting private sector. He also said that that they would challenge convening of the syndicate meeting in Lahore High Court on account of contempt proceedings and on account of statutory quorum requirement given in the act of the university. However, despite all the unrest and protest, Punjab University Syndicate meeting, presided over by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir, approved Rs 9 billion budget for the year 2017-18. The university expects a total grant of Rs 2.548 billion from Higher Education Commission. According to details, in order to encourage research activities, the university has increased research grant from Rs 120 million to Rs 150 million. According to other salient features of the budget, special students will also be provided with free education along with boarding facilities, while students taking admission on sports basis will be provided free education. The university will continue to waive tuition fee of Hafiz-e-Quran. The university has allocated Rs 70 million for overseas scholarships and Rs 70 million for participation in national and international conferences. In order to facilitate students, Punjab University is providing funds of Rs 11 million to its students in terms of scholarships, student affairs and career counselling and other activities. Moreover, HEC scholarships worth Rs 9.74 million and PEEF scholarships will also be provided to students. Punjab University is providing Rs 220.40 million as hostel subsidy, Rs 4.83 million as transport subsidy and Rs 10.14 million as Internet subsidy to students. The net subsidy on the mentioned services has been increased from Rs 210 million to Rs 270 million and in addition to the above, subsidy on electricity bills in teaching departments is also being provided. The PU has allocated Rs 410 million for development projects.Daily Times.

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