Editorial: UoB’s Fiscal Crunch
Every year the University of Balochistan (UoB) complains about a new financial crisis. The scarcity of funds is publicized at a time when the crisis reaches its peak and the University approaches the brink of complete closure. In the first quarter of this year, the UoB, located in Quetta, the provincial capital, says it is fast running out of the required budget to pay the salary of the teachers and staff members.
Dr. Rasool Baksh Raisani, the Vice Chancellor of the UoB, has also confirmed the crisis. The University administration says the Islamabad-based Higher Education Commission (H.E.C.) has not released a promised amount of Rs. 12 billion budget which was meant to be allocated to Balochistan’s largest university in the first quarter of this year. On, their part, the H.E.C. authorities have not stated their position as to what has caused this delay in the release of the funds.
In the past, similar financial crises had struck the university so badly that a former vice chancellor had to go to Islamabad with a grand entourage to beg immediate assistance from the federal government and top government authorities dealing with the education department. The last crisis had deepened to such a extent that the vice chancellor said it was no longer possible to run the university without the required funds. A similar situation has once again emerged and now it urgently needs the attention of the H.E.C. and federal authorities.
While the university authorities and the federal officials will, hopefully, work together to resolve this serious crisis, it is extremely important to discuss and formulate a long-term budgetary strategy for the University of Balochistan. It seems the University does not have a sustainable financial plan and, as a result, it runs out of finances every year. The government should not only provide the necessary budget to the University but it should also devise new plans to make the university more profitable with the help of evening classes for private students, distance learning opportunities, and making the university an impressive destination for private events, conferences and fairs. Our universities should not be entirely dependent on the government. They should instead turn into profitable institutions and encourage entrepreneurship among the fresh graduates so that they start their professional careers with unflinching ambition and outstanding career goals.
The educational cycle at the University has been badly perturbed over the past many years either because of repeated calls for protest and strikes by student wings of various political parties or a shortage of funds. Insiders say the government needs to dig out deeper into the causes of the fiscal crisis as, they argue, corruption and illegal recruitment of extra staff is the root cause of recurrent scarcity of funds. Influential officials inside the university administration are believed to be behind appointing their own relatives or political cronies of government ministers on various positions at the University. Unfortunately, the University has shrunk into a mere salary-distributing authority instead of transforming into a center of higher learning and excellence.
In order to ensure an uninterrupted academic year, the provincial and the federal governments should work together to immediately release the required funds needed for the University of Balochistan. At the same time, they should probe corruption and nepotism in the university and fire all the unnecessary staff that was hired secretly and so that the UoB does not come under financial strain once again in the future.
The Baloch Hal
Published in The Baloch Hal on March 3, 2013