KU seeks a big hike in annual budget

Moazum Mohammad

Srinagar: The Kashmir University has sought enhancement in the annual state budget so that varsity would strengthen its satellite campuses and also develop the main campus holistically.
Last week, KU vice-chancellor Prof Khurshid Andrabi briefed the Finance minister Haseeb Drabu about the institution’s financial requirements and asked for more funds this budget. Currently, 85 percent of the varsity’s financial needs, including employees’ wages, are borne by the state.
“For a long time, we have been seeking increase in the overall budget of the university. We received positive response from the finance minister about the enhancement package this time because the education sector is government’s priority,” Andrabi told Kashmir Reader.
The university has been facing financial crunch since Prof Riyaz Punjabi took over the reins of the varsity. Punjabi is blamed for squandering resources on appointing an army of casual employees and purchasing nearly 100 vehicles. Money that should have been spent on building infrastructure went into the salaries of these employees.
He is also learnt to have spent huge amount of money on conferences, seminars, and increasing student intake without a proportionate enhancement of infrastructure.
In the upcoming academic session, the university would open three new off-site campuses in Kupwara, Kargil and Ladakh, which many see as a futile exercise because they would be living off the funds meant for the main campus.
“We want to lessen the burden on the main campus by opening three new campuses this year. Also, the campus in north and south Kashmir need expansion for which we have sought funds from the state,” Andrabi said.
“We want to construct additional blocks in the north and south while accommodation of the students is another important issue. But we know it’s not appropriate to seek all the funds from the state. We are looking for funds from the UGC as well,” he said.
According to an official, nearly 200 people engaged as casual labourers during Punjabi’s have completed seven years, which makes them eligible for regular jobs. But due to scarcity of funds, their regularization has got delayed.
Many departments in the main campus, packed with students above their intake capacity, also lack adequate infrastructure, while hostel facilities for male students from far off places is grossly inadequate.
“Only 400 out of 2500 students have accommodation available at the main campus, while the rest have to look for rented accommodation in the vicinity. Similarly, the employees are facing shortage of accommodation for which new residential accommodation haven’t come up because of the lack of funds,” the official said.
To raise funds, the university had to increase the number of payment seats. However, these funds could hardly meet the overall requirements.