Peshawar - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s oldest education institution University of Peshawar (UoP) is not in a position to pay January salaries to its 2800 staff and pension to 1500 retired employees. Since years university is under a monetary burden, but during the 2018-19 budget government has announced raise in salaries and also in pensions but did not increase the annual grant for the institution and ironically asked the university to generate the required money from its resources. Besides this increase, UoP spends millions of rupees on its security and also pays a hefty amount to KP police for guarding the premises for decades. There are multiple reasons for UoP crises, including a cut in annual grants and new universities. Higher Education Commission has never been increased budget, despite dozens of new universities established in the province.
In July 2019, to overcome such kind of financial crises UoP had taken a loan from different banks and later payback after new enrollment. Spokesperson Ali Imran Bangash said since then, we have requested federal and provincial government to assist KP Alma-mater. Many commitments made and committees have formed, but nothing positive heard from anyone, and now, unfortunately, conditions are almost out of control, he admitted. University administration wants to pay 70% of salary to every staff member, but employees and teachers associations have rejected the plea.
According to the letter sent by Vice-Chancellor to KP Chief Minister, the University of Peshawar annual expenses have reached 403.4 million, but its shortfall is 203.597 million. The letter clearly said UoP is unable to pay pension and salary on 1st February. VC further wrote that the government did not issue sufficient annual grants to coup increase in expenses. In the last 12 years, the UoP grant has increased 113%, but salaries jumped 270% and pensions 979%. Three months ago, the university administration had taken a loan from banks and also decreased its developmental projects in university premises, Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) President told Dr. Nasir Ali. PUTA holds responsible current administration for this impending crisis, Dr. Nasir Ali stated that Vice-Chancellor is Treasurer and was well aware of the fact. Still, they didn’t chalk any effective plan to address the issue. In an emergency of UoP, teachers stated demanded bailout package.
PUTA is not in favor of increase semester and hostel fees and said universities don’t generate revenue but contribute to producing intellectuals and research. Dr. Ali told UoP is already a highly paid public university, and for controlling the current situation, the government should come forward.
“The University of Peshawar needs immediately 200 million grant to pay salary in time and for monthly expenditures demanded 150 million,” the letter stated. According to Dr. Ali, universities could only survive if the administration is serious to adopt commercialize techniques like consultancy, market-oriented research, and developmental projects for private companies. If the administration fails in providing salaries in time in this high inflation era, then we would announce our plan, he said.