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ISLAMABAD: The government, realizing the importance of higher education, had approved 21 projects for universities during just concluded fiscal year 2016-17 at a total cost of Rs22.272 billion.

The first three quarters of previous year witnessed competent forum's approval for 29 out of 39 new Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects, costing Rs69.488 billion.

Giving details, official sources Monday said 21 projects had been approved for universities at a total cost of Rs22.272 billion which included three from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two from Sindh, four from Punjab, five from Islamabad Capital Territory, one from Azad Jammu and Kashmir and six from Balochistan.

Eight projects had been approved for Higher Education Commission (HEC) at a total cost of Rs47.215 billion.

The sources said Prime Minister's Fee Reimbursement Scheme for less-developed areas (selected regions) was successfully executed during the period.

The scheme was focused on building capacities and enabling them to compete in normal course while in future it would provide manpower for public sector universities.

Reimbursement to around 17,137 students of less developed areas was also carried out.

Moreover, the sources said an Initiative of Aghaz-e- Haqooq-e-Balochistan (Indigenous and Overseas) had been focused towards providing scholarships in MS leading to PhD and PhD studies to less privileged areas of Balochistan, who despite possessing academic merit are unable to overcome the financial difficulties.

This project covers tuition, accommodation and living expenses as well. In year 2016-17, 31 candidates availed the overseas scholarships while 16 candidates availed the indigenous scholarships.

Another project was "Provision of Higher Education Opportunities for Students of Balochistan and FATA Phase II (President's Directives) which was based on provision of higher education opportunities to students from Balochistan and FATA through enrolling them in an educational institutions of other provinces and supporting them by paying their tuition fee and other living expenses.

The quantitative target of the programme was to provide financial support to a total of 3,900 students (2500 Undergraduate  and 1400 Post-graduate).

The scholarship distribution ratio for the students of Balochistan and FATA was 50:50.

The test has been conducted for undergraduate and postgraduate students during 2016-17 and 188 scholarships were awarded to MS/M.Phil students while 500 scholarships were awarded to Bachelors students.

During the period, total 19,147 scholarships were awarded, out of which 269 were awarded under indigenous PhD, 270 under Foreign (PhD), 17137 under Prime Minister's Fee Reimbursement Scheme (PMFRS) for less developed areas and 1471 scholarships were warded under Need Based Graduate/Undergraduate Scholarships.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2017

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