COVID-19 and funding for research to innovate Universities of Pakistan

02:39 PM | 28 Dec, 2020
COVID-19 and funding for research to innovate Universities of Pakistan
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Logically, the term university means ‘the house of knowledge’. No, doubt universities are institutions to promote higher education. But higher education is not the only responsibility. The core role of universities is to produce new knowledge. In this modern world majority of economies are knowledge-based. In such circumstances, the role of universities becomes more significant. The main element for the growth of a knowledge-based economy is the commodification of knowledge and it could not be actualized without an active role of universities. Research has a central role in a sustainable university model. The world’s leading universities depend on research and commercialization to achieve a suitable sustainability level. Research is a process to create new knowledge and commercialization is a process for the commodification of knowledge. One of the outcomes of such commodification always is in the form of revenue. A careful study of models of universities in developed nation-states shows that it is difficult to achieve a suitable sustainability level without research, development, and commercialization. 

In Pakistan, the higher education sector is under stress for two decades because of a lack of funds and small research grants from the government. Pakistan’s economic model is neither perfect capitalistic nor socialistic. It has a mixed economic system. In such a setup, it is always challenging for the government to allocate suitable funds to all sectors. This situation has a deep impact on the higher education system as well as on research and development. No doubt, the circumstances are not favourable for universities. Simply, a sustainability model means a university that contributes to building a sustainable society through education, research, collaboration with the society and campus development. It aims to practically and multilaterally support the well-being of society by “expanding education and research that are rooted in social challenges as policies of the entire university” and “implementation of campus development that harmonizes with surrounding areas”. 

In Pakistan, there are three sources of revenue for universities; the first one is government funding, second is tuition fee from students and third is research grants. But the share of revenue under the umbrella of research grants is very little. It is possible to actualize a sustainable university model by optimizing the use of available resources. Due to economic constraints, the government can't increase funding. On the other hand, the paying capacity of students is limited and varies from area to area. So, it would not be a good decision to increase the tuition fee. Some universities had increased tuition fees and now trying to facilitate the needy students by using different options like scholarships, endowment funds, and donation pools. 

Universities have to focus on research and development to generate revenue. So optimization of resources, development of infrastructure to facilitate research activities and commodification of knowledge mean commercialization are the only possible ways to sort out the sustainability-related problems. KFUEIT is a new university in extreme south Punjab and is in a severe financial crisis for the last two years. From November 2019 and onward, management adopted practices to optimize the use of available resources as well as kept its focus on research. The outcomes of such measures are favourable and now KFUEIT is in the transition phase towards sustainability. A majority of faculty members perceive universities as easy job centres and they engage themselves only in teaching instead of research and development. But universities required out of the box efforts from faculty members to boost up the research-related activities because research is now another lifeline for universities. It is the need of time to change such perception. Internal politics is another reason which is a big hindrance to sustainable growth. It is common that in every university there are different lobbies or groups which are always in search of opportunities to achieve their objectives or personal benefits. Their efforts are not aligned with the line of action of the university. It is necessary to rectify such elements. A well-maintained teacher to staff ratio would help universities to improve sustainability.

As higher education commission (HEC) recommends the teacher to staff ratio in the range of 1:1.5 maximum to get the good funding opportunity from different funding bodies including HEC. The outcomes of such a suitable teacher to staff ratio would be as the maximum output from research and development, and reduced expenditure on non-productive staff.  On the other hand, the initiative of the government to implement merit policy is appreciatable. Recently, the government has appointed vice-chancellors in various government universities in following a strict merit policy. The competent authorities are committed to implementing strict merit policy in the selection of teaching faculty and staff because without such implementation universities would become just job centres for inexperienced and incompetent teachers. It would cause a hindrance to achieve sustainability, to promote quality education and research. Universities need competent, intelligent, hardworking faculty with strong teaching and research experience and it is not possible to actualize without following the standard selection criteria. Such measures would not only raise the quality of education as well as revolutionize the whole perspective to higher education in the country. 

No doubt, in the case of universities, for the actualization of the sustainability model, research is as important as government support. For such a model, universities require extraordinary research-oriented faculty, good research labs, libraries, and efficient process for the commodification of knowledge, commercialization, and supporting infrastructure. Otherwise, the only option to achieve the sustainability model would be the revision of fee structure. For many students, it would become difficult to continue their university education. So, it is the responsibility of university management, faculty, and staff to put their efforts in the right direction. Optimizing the over expenses can help to reduce the fee burden on the students. With all the above, it is necessary to follow suitable austerity measures to reduce unnecessary expenses. It is in accordance with the teachings of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). The life of the Prophet (PBUH) is a role model for every person. Our Prophet (PBUH) always prefers a simple life over a luxurious life. So, to leave luxury and adopt simplicity is the path of the Prophet (PBUH). In this holy month of Ramzan, we all can practice simplicity or austerity in our personal as well as in our professional life. Our country is also suffering from COVID-19 pandemic.

The economy of the country is under high stress. All educational and research-related activities are on halt. It is a challenging situation for all. Now, as a member of this nation, we must generate savings and provide the fund to the government. A single simple step can save the resources which could be used in another way to cope with the pandemic situation. So, it is the need of the hour, to save from available resources and spend for a safe future. No, doubt in this hard time all universities are participating according to their capacity. KFUEIT also established a fund to provided ration to six hundred families. All faculty and staff of the university donated a part of their salaries in government corona funds. University prepared sanitisers in its labs and distributed these bottles in all government offices and public. No doubt participation is directly dependent on the available resources. Anyhow more sustainable institutions could serve this nation in a better way.  

Finally, let me say that universities are for quality education and research with PhD faculty and Scholars not to give the jobs to everyone without merit because quality education, technical professions, and moral character building are main components that are required to build in the youth for strong, innovative and leading nation.


Pakistani rupee exchange rate to US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 9 Dec 2023

Pakistani rupee remains largely stable against the US dollar, and other currencies in the open market on Saturday.

Dollar Rate in Pakistan Today

On Saturday, the US dollar was being quoted at 283.4 for buying and 285.95 for selling.

Euro comes down to 307 for buying and 310 for selling. British Pound rate remains unchanged at 358.5 for buying, and 362 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED witnessed slight drop and new rate stands at 77.2 whereas the Saudi Riyal remained stable at 76.

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)

Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 283.4 285.95
Euro EUR 307 307
UK Pound Sterling GBP 358.5 362
U.A.E Dirham AED 77.2 78
Saudi Riyal SAR 76 76.8
Australian Dollar AUD 187.2 189
Bahrain Dinar BHD 755.82 763.82
Canadian Dollar CAD 209 211
China Yuan CNY 39.82 40.22
Danish Krone DKK 41.14 41.54
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 36.37 36.72
Japanese Yen JPY 3.41 3.52
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 922.14 931.14
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 60.82 61.42
New Zealand Dollar NZD 175.33 177.33
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.12 26.42
Omani Riyal OMR 738.71 746.71
Qatari Riyal QAR 78.07 78.77
Singapore Dollar SGD 211 213
Swedish Korona SEK 27.32 27.62
Swiss Franc CHF 324.5 327
Thai Bhat THB 8.08 8.23

Gold remains under pressure in Pakistan; Check today gold rates here

Gold prices witnessed negative trend in local markets in line with the trend in the international market.

Gold Rates in Pakistan Today - 9 December 2023

On Saturday, the price of a single tola of 24-karat gold stands at Rs217,600, and 10 grams of 24k gold costs Rs186,560.

Single tola of 22 Karat Gold price costs Rs199,465, 21 karat rate per tola costs Rs190, 400 and 18k gold rate is Rs163,200.00 for each tola.

In the global market, gold prices hovers around $2,004 per ounce, after drop of $23.35 on Saturday.

Today Gold Rate in Pakistan

City Gold Silver
Lahore PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Karachi PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Islamabad PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Peshawar PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Quetta PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Sialkot PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Attock PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Gujranwala PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Jehlum PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Multan PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Bahawalpur PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Gujrat PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Nawabshah PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Chakwal PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Hyderabad PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Nowshehra PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Sargodha PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Faisalabad PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530
Mirpur PKR 217,600 PKR 2,530


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