ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan conducted two comprehensive capacity building sessions for public sector universities on financial autonomy as part of the Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project in Lahore and Karachi. The workshops were attended by over 45 senior finance officials, including treasurers and registrars from various public sector higher education institutions.
The first capacity building session of the quarter was held at the HEC Regional Center Karachi and the second in Lahore. HEDP has already trained more than 100 participants from different universities in the last three years of the project.
At the first four-day training session in Karachi, more than 23 treasurers and related staff from colleges across the country, including the federal capital, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab, attended the training. Training topics included the characteristics of the financial autonomy framework, better financial management, endowment fund policies, internal and external audit, tax issues and practical examples of how to implement the framework.
The chairman of the HEC, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed also graced the occasion by attending as the keynote speaker. Vice Chancellor Dawood University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Dr. Faizullah Abbasi and Vice Chancellor Sindh Agriculture University Tandojam Dr. Fateh Muhammad Marri were the main guests at the opening and closing ceremonies respectively.
dr Mukhtar Ahmed explained that with government grants dwindling, universities should eagerly seek innovative ways to generate alternative revenue streams. He also stressed the need to digitize higher education institutions’ processes for the availability of key data for decision-making at the click of a button, rather than relying on paper-based reports.
In his remarks, Dr. Faizullah Abbasi the need to improve public university fund generation in the face of dwindling federal government grants and rising spending due to inflation. dr Marri shared his experiences related to governance and financial management of public sector universities.
The second capacity building session in Lahore was attended by a cohort of around 25 public sector university registrars and their staff from across the country including the federal capital, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Key topics covered in the training included the characteristics of the financial autonomy framework, better financial management, improving public university governance and practical illustrations for implementing the framework.
Public funding allocation for the higher education sector in Pakistan remains low compared to international standards due to competing demands from other sectors. The HEC therefore encourages public sector higher education institutions to increase revenue from non-traditional sources. It is also one of the key development goals of the HEDP project, which seeks to strengthen the governance of the higher education sector by supporting universities’ financial autonomy. In this regard, a revenue generation and fundraising framework for public sector universities has been developed following consultations with around 100 universities across Pakistan.
In the joint brainstorming, the program members suggested automating the processes in the universities and providing dashboards for the rectors and other administrative members to check the financial status online.
The training activity will be led by the Financial Management Specialist, HEDP, Mr. Khawaja Zahid in collaboration with the financial professionals who have been assigned to conduct various sessions during the training.