ISLAMABAD: The tenth steering committee meeting of Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship project was held on Monday at the Higher Education Commission. According to the press release, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection, Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar and Chairman HEC, Dr. Tariq Banuri co-chaired the meeting. The steering committee discussed policy questions, financial impacts, sustainability features and refinements needed in light of the assessment study conducted under the Ehsaas umbrella. Detailed deliberations were held on findings of the study. The assessment covered 35 public sector universities across all four provinces and ICT. Under the study, the eligibility criteria for selection of students by the respective Institutional Scholarship Award Committees of the universities were gauged. The study revealed that the programme provided a level playing field for students from low-income households nationwide. Overall, 138,000 scholarships were awarded to students enrolled in four-to-five-year degree undergraduate courses at 129 public universities in two years. Students with a monthly family income below the threshold of Rs. 45,000 were eligible to apply, and scholarships were given out based on need-cum-merit basis. Fifty percent of the scholarships are reserved for girls. The results of the study also highlighted the need for categorization of universities based on their performance under Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship project. Members of the committee also discussed capacity building plan for universities with weak compliance systems. “Our priority is to draw on findings of study and to refine systems for effective execution of Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship project”, said Dr. Sania. She also thanked the Ehsaas and HEC teams for their collaborative efforts in conducting the assessment study. Lauding the quality of the programme, Chairman HEC commented, “Ehsaas Undergraduate Scholarship is one of the landmark projects of the federal government to support higher education of low-income students.” The scholarship award process for the current financial year was also discussed under which 122,744 applications have been received through the online portal. The meeting adjourned with the decision that the next steering committee meeting will be convened next month. It was also agreed that the Vice Chancellors’ Conference will be held after a month.