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Expressing serious anger over the continued absence of Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhary, a parliamentary panel on Monday provided him a last chance to attend the committee meetings; otherwise, a privileged motion will be moved against him and the committee meeting will be called off in protest.

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, which met here under the chairmanship of Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, took strong notice of the absence of the minister for science and technology and asserted if the minister fails to attend the next meeting, it will be called off in protest and a privilege motion will be moved.

The meeting was briefed by the officials of the Ministry for Science and Technology and Rector COMSATS on the status of the university and its challenges.

It was observed that student enrolment had vastly increased from 277 in 2000 to 36,599 in 2019. Faculty and staff strength had increased considerably as well. At present, the total faculty entails 2,792.

While discussing budget issues, it was revealed that 80 percent of the budget was being spent on salary, Higher Education Commission (HEC) support fund cut was observed to have an impact of Rs 252 million, inflation annual impact was estimated to be Rs 575 million, while the government of Pakistan allowance has been Rs 70 million.

Senator Sassui Palijo said that a recommendation must be sent to the ministry and a resolution must be passed in this regard. Senator Sabir Shah said that the budget cut issue must be taken up solely in the next meeting. He recommended that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education must be summoned. It was asserted that issues of other science universities including NUST must be discussed as well.

In terms of achievements the committee was informed that the university has been involved in research and development of military hardware. It was also revealed that the university stands 14th amongst Saarc countries, which is a great achievement. It has received several awards including two global good governance awards and 15 national civil awards.

In addition to various accolades to its credit, the university has been involved in numerous advocacy programs such as Plastic Free Pakistan, Smoke Free Pakistan and Green Campus. In addition to the above, COMSATS University is the first to introduce hybrid teaching in Pakistan. The program was initiated in 2013. Rector COMSATS informed the committee that the Plastic Free Islamabad Campaign was initiated by them.

Chairman Committee Senator Mushtaq Ahmed declared that a single agenda meeting on budget will be conducted and recommendations of the VC committee on the issue must be submitted to the science and technology committee.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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