Squeezed for funds, KU doesn’t want to run 4 centres of excellence


The University of Karachi (KU) is resisting attempts of the Federal government to merge four institutes of excellence run by the Ministry of Education into the varsity on the grounds that it cannot fund the research activities of these institutes, Pakistan Today has learnt.
After the abolishment of the Concurrent List under the 18th Amendment, the Federal government has suggested that the Areas Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), Sheikh Zayed Islamic Research Centre (SZIRC), the Centre of Excellence in Marine Biology (CEMB), and Pakistan Study Centre (PSC) are merged with their host institutions, but without any increase in budgetary grants.
Sources told Pakistan Today that the four institutes are likely to merge with KU but without any increase in the varsity’s annual budget. KU Vice-Chancellor (VC) KU Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui was summoned to Islamabad for a meeting on June 21 to discuss the accommodation of federally-run institutes in host institutions.
“Representatives of the institutes concerned placed the annual budget and expenditure before the meeting, sources said, but Siddiqui argued that KU was already facing financial constraints due to huge cuts in Higher Education Commission (HEC)-funded grants. As a result, it is virtually impossible to facilitate federally-run institutes,” sources told Pakistan Today.
ASCE was established at KU in 1974 by an Act of parliament, ASC Act No. XLV, 1975, but recently all area study centres were merged with their host universities. However, the autonomous character of all such centres was retained, allowing them a degree of autonomy in academic, research and administrative matters.
The CEMB was established in 1969 in the Department of Marine Biology. Four years into its existence, however, it was given the status of Institute of Marine Biology.
The PSC was also established under an Act of the parliament passed in 1976, with purpose of a centre being the creation of national cohesion through the study of languages, literatures, social structure, customs, attitudes and motivations of the people of various regions of the country.