Rs9b PU budget approved amid teachers’ protest

LAHORE:June 9: Punjab University syndicate meeting chaired by interim Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasir approved Rs 9 billion budget for the year 2017-18, amid strong protest from some members of the varsity senate, elected members of the Academic Staff Association (ASA) and faculty members. Those who protested were of the view that the interim VC was supposed to get approval to hold the syndicate meeting from the chancellor, which they claimed he didn’t, owing to which the same was allegedly illegal. According to the budget details, the Punjab University expects a total grant of Rs 2.548 billion from Higher Education Commission (HEC), 38 percent of the total budget. In order to encourage research activities, the university has increased research grant from Rs 120 million to Rs 150 million. As per 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 would also be provided with free education. The university will continue to waive off 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 would also be provided to students. Punjab University is providing Rs 220.40 million hostel subsidy, Rs 4.83 million transport subsidy and Rs 10.14 million 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. PU has allocated Rs 410 million for development projects. Earlier some elected members of PU ASA and Senate flanked by a large number of faculty members from different departments staged a protest demonstration outside Vice Chancellor's office terming the meeting illegal. Moreover, because of lack of quorum, the PU admin could not start syndicate meeting for four and half hours as there were only 8 members out of 19 were present in the beginning. Later, at around 2:45pm, the administration wrapped up Rs 9.27 billion budget meeting just in 15 minutes. The protesters were holding placards and banners bearing slogans against interim Vice Chancellor Dr Zaffar Mueen Nasar. The main gate of the VC office was closed but the teachers strongly protested and the move finally ended opening of the gate on the orders of the acting registrar. The university administration 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. However, the teachers continued to follow the venue and stormed near the meeting room. Elected members of the Senate Dr Kamran Abid and Engr Dr M. Azhar Naeem briefed the available members of the syndicate saying that the court had stayed syndicate meeting and the approval of the Chancellor had also not been sought. Talking to the media outside the VC office, PU’s elected members of Senate and Academic Staff Association including Dr Kamran Abid and others alleged that the meeting was illegal as the approval of convening the meeting including its agenda items had not been sought from the Chancellor as ordered by Lahore High Court in WP No 20756-16 titled Dr Mansoor Sarwar vs Province of Punjab. They also alleged the interim VC had increased student fees thus dropping a “fee bomb” on poor students. A PU official, when contacted, said the administration had sought approval of the Chancellor and added no illegality was committed in holding the syndicate meeting.The news.

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