Teachers at Universities to Mark Black Day Following Government Cuts to HEC Budget

Teachers at Universities to Mark Black Day Following Government Cuts to HEC Budget

A black day protest was declared by the Federation of All Pakistan institutions Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) on Thursday, May 30, at all institutions across the country in protest of the federal government’s large budget cuts to the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The HEC’s budget for the 2024–25 fiscal year has been slashed by the federal government from Rs65 billion to Rs25 billion, with monies going exclusively to federal area institutions and not to the previously included provincial universities. Initially, the HEC had asked for Rs126 billion to support more than 160 public universities.

The executive council of FAPUASA convened an emergency meeting under the direction of General Secretary Dr. Muhammad Uzair and President Dr. Amjad Abbas Magsi to examine the government’s refusal to provide funding for provincial universities. The decision was overwhelmingly rejected by the council, who noted its disastrous effects on the already struggling-to-survive higher education sector.

The academic staff associations were instructed to organize meetings and garner support for the council’s decision to observe May 30 as Black Day in all universities. In addition, FAPUASA intends to stage a sit-in in Islamabad to call for the reinstatement of the HEC funding.

Leaders of FAPUASA criticized the federal government’s decision, stating that it was detrimental to the higher education industry and unconstitutional. They asked the administration to distribute funds in accordance with province shares and stressed the importance of bringing budget decisions before the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

The federation demanded that the funding cut be immediately reversed and denounced the administration for giving development projects priority over controlling the measles outbreak. They also insisted that the upcoming government budget boost funding for higher education to Rs. 500 billion, threatening to close universities all around the country if this demand was not met.

The Vice Chancellors Committee also asked province governments to contribute to university budgets and encouraged the federal government to keep funding universities. Dr. Iqrar Ahmed Khan, the vice chancellor of UAF, presided over an emergency meeting during which the serious effects of the budget cuts on the future of higher education and the financial viability of universities were emphasized.

HEC Executive Director Dr. Ziaul Qayyum and Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed stressed that budget cuts threaten decades of investment in higher education and sabotage efforts for youth development-based national integration. They said the commission would petition the finance ministry for reconsideration.