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HEC to approach CMs for early appointment of VCs in public varsities

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has decided to approach all newly-appointed chief ministers to ensure that the process of appointing vice chancellors (VCs) in public-sector universities is completed well on time. At present, out of a total of 147 public-sector universities, 60 were functioning without VCs, and this matter also reached the Supreme Court recently. “We have decided to write to all chief ministers and chancellor offices for early appointment of VCs,” HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said.

Speaking to Dawn on Wednesday, Mr Ahmed said during the tenure of interim governments, the HEC had also written letters to provincial governments. Over 50 universities being run without regular VCs, chairman says “This is a serious issue; over 50 universities are being operated without regular VCs,” he said, adding that as per his information, the process of appointment of VCs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was almost finalised and a summary had been moved to Chief Minister’s Office.

Similarly, he said the appointment of VCs in other provinces was also at an advance stage, explaining that as per rules and regulations, the head of provincial charted universities were appointed by provincial authorities. Recently, All Public Universities BPS Teachers Association (APUBTA), through its president Dr Samiur Rahman, filed a petition in the Supreme Court. In response to the said petition, the apex court on April 1 issued notices to respondents and decided to fix the matter in the second week of May. The order said the counsel for all public-sector university teachers informed the court that this body of teachers represented about 50,000 educationists working in public-sector universities.

According to the order, the counsel states that the association’s only reason for bringing this matter to the attention of the court is to ensure that federal and provincial laws as well as statutes of public-sector universities are implemented. The order further stated that the lawyer detailed three major grievances of the petitioner. Firstly, out of the 147 public-sector universities, about 60 were functioning without vice chancellors. Secondly, the tenured positions in public-sector universities were not filled and lastly, decision making bodies of public-sector universities, including their boards of governors, syndicates, senates and academic councils, did not hold meetings as frequently as stipulated in law or their respective statutes. Consequently, public-sector universities were under performing, and this impinged on their academic freedom.

The order said the counsel further submitted that the public-sector universities, as envisaged in the law, were supposed to be autonomous but when the said positions were not filled and meetings did not take place, it led to outside interference. “Issue notice to the respondents, except respondent No 2. The said respondents should submit their comments with regard to the public-sector universities within their respective jurisdictions, including identifying the public-sector universities where the positions of VCs and other tenured positions are lying vacant or such positions are held on acting charge basis and since when. The comments should also disclose the statutory requirements regarding the periodic holding of meetings stipulated therein and whether the universities are complaint therewith. To be fixed in the second week of May, 2024,” the order read.

Earlier, the petition, moved through Advocate Umer Ijaz Gillani, highlighted that 24 out of 34 public-universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 32 out of 50 in Punjab, six in Sindh and two in Balochistan did not currently have VCs as required under law. The APUBTA said the non-appointment of legally tenured vice-chancellors adversely affected the administrative structure of public-sector universities because vice chancellors played a key role in all major decision-making bodies of the universities. It said that not only was this a blatant violation of various statutes, it was also eroding academic freedom within the universities and therefore connected with the enforcement of fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan, it said.

Moreover, the association said ad-hocism created by the non-appointment of vice chancellors was seeping through the entire university structure, the APUBTA regretted, adding that not only were universities operating without VCs but most other significant tenure-based positions — such as directors, deans and chairpersons — of different departments and academies within the universities have lost their sanctity of tenure. The petitioner feared that widespread pattern of non-appointment or delay in the appointment of university VCs is leading to a collapse of good governance in higher education, adding that the tendency also amounts to violation of the dictum of the Supreme Court’s judgements.

Title : HEC to approach CMs for early appointment of VCs in public varsities
Author : Dawn
Type : News
Role Performer : Corporate Author
Subject : HEC Initiative to appoint VCs
Publisher : Dawn
Publication Place : Islamabad
Date : 2024-04-04
Language : English