ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has failed to fulfill the financial needs of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad.According to the documents available with Daily Times, QAU faces a financial shortfall of Rs 424.4 million in the current fiscal year. The university has been facing financial constraints since 2014.In the annual budget of 2014-15, it faced monetary deficit of Rs 516.2 million; Rs 624.2 million in 2015-16 and Rs 516.6 million in 2016-17.The HEC is responsible for getting funds from the government and allocating them among the universities according to their needs. However, the QAU has been deprived of its legitimate share of funding from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the past many years.The university could not get most of the approximately Rs 300 billion allocated to the QAU under the PSDP during the past 16 years.Moreover, according to the documents, the PC-I for the expansion and strengthening of the research and teaching programmes at QAU was turned down by HEC. It has still not been approved.Requesting anonymity, an official of the HEC Finance Wing said that the PC-I was rejected because the required documents had not been provided.Currently, out of the 411 budgeted strength of academic positions, 154 (37%) have been lying vacant for the last four years. According to a senior official of the QAU, financial constraints in the university were the main hindrances in the university’s development. “These constraints are adversely affecting the research and teaching standards of the university,” he said.The official said that the funding shortage might also hurt the national and international ranking of the university in coming years. Currently, the university is ranked in the top 500 universities of the world. “It is very regrettable that we have been deprived of the required funding,” he said.Recently, QAU was declared as ‘Flagship Institution of Pakistan’ by the government.The incumbent QAU administration has repeatedly raised the issue of funding shortage.In a recent press conference, Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Asharf said that due to the deficit, QAU had not been able to purchase 88 per cent of the required scientific equipment. “For the past many years, our labs have not been supplied with the latest equipment. Students are compelled to use outdated equipment for their experimental work,” he had said.However, the HEC has rejected reports that QAU was facing a shortage of funds.The HEC Finance Wing said that the university was provided Rs 931.338 million as annual budget for 2013-14; Rs 975.091 million for 2014-15; Rs 1061.952 million for 2015-16; Rs 1132.334 million for 2016-17 and Rs 1209.898 million for 2017-18.While addressing a ceremony organised by QAU to mark the 50 years of its establishment, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed had said that it was a great achievement for the QAU to be part of the top 500 world universities. “However, the actual task will be maintaining this position,” he had said.He had said that the QAU administration had failed to forward all required documentation for approval of development funds from HEC.“There is no use protesting over rejection of funding requests that are not sent without the requisite documentation. The university should hire a consultant for such documentation. The commission is even ready to pay for that consultant,” he said.Published in Daily Times, November 6th 2017.