The public sector universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) continue to face severe financial difficulties, with no end in sight. Several universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, including the University of Agriculture and the University of Peshawar, are on the verge of closure due to severe financial difficulties. The crisis has left employees without their salaries and pensions for the month of September, leading to threats of a boycott and seizure of official residences.
According to a report, as many as 20 public sector universities are on the verge of closure due to the financial crunch. The report added that their losses and liabilities have exceeded Rs. 7 billion. Engineering University and Technology Peshawar and Gomal University are particularly hard-hit. The current predicament is attributed to the rapid expansion of universities without adequate planning and excessive recruitment.
According to the Higher Education Department (HED), 29 universities in the province were established without any prior planning, with four universities in Swat alone.
Furthermore, there have also been disputes over the distribution of resources among universities. The report also highlighted the lack of vice chancellors at various universities.
Since March 2023, twelve universities have been without permanent VCs, while eight institutes are being run by the Pro-VCs. Additionally, 8 more VCs will complete their terms later this year.
Moreover, the salaries of employees at several universities have also been halted. Administrative operations have been suspended at Women University Swabi, Lucky Marwat, Khushal Khan University, Karak, and Agriculture University DI Khan.
If the situation persists, it could have dire implications for the future of higher education in the region. A potential closure of these institutions would disrupt the education of thousands of students and could lead to an increase in unemployment among university staff. It is crucial that a sustainable financial solution is found to ensure the continuity of these institutions and the education they provide.
The HED report added that universities have introduced BS programs after private B.A. and M.A. programs were abolished. Furthermore, universities have leased their properties below market prices. The report highlights the failure of the institutes to utilize their agricultural land.