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College councils in Punjab a fresh promise

College councils a fresh promise of better education
Lahore, Aug 04: In a bid to reinvigorate the public-sector institutes, the Punjab Higher Education Department has introduced college councils in the hope that they will be the answer to the grim educational scene.

After getting the project approved, the department has notified the constitution of 17-member councils in 460 colleges across the province. They will be represented among others by students, parents, philanthropists and legislators.

These councils will serve as 'mini-syndicates' in respective colleges and take decisions about administrative and academic matters, student affairs and even utilisation of funds.

Each college council will be chaired by the principal and the vice principal will serve as its secretary. The other 15 members will be: one representative each of professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers in a college; one engineer (SE/EXEN/SDO) nominated by the commission concerned; one representative of district coordination officer; two parents nominated by the commission from the panel forwarded by a college principal; two philanthropists/social workers/ industrialists/persons of eminence etc., nominated by the commissioner; one member of the Punjab Assembly to be nominated by the Chief Minister's Secretariat; and three students' representatives -- one each from intermediate, graduate and postgraduate level -- to be selected/nominated by principal on merit (and not through election).

The higher education department has launched the exercise of selecting and nominating members on the councils.

It is learnt that the Punjab government had realised that the business processes of government-run colleges were proving detrimental to their progress and upkeep, and decided to re-engineer them. To quote just one example, sources said, the Punjab government had released Rs382 million to the Communication and Works Department for maintenance and repairs of public colleges during 2008-09 but the amount lapsed.

Most colleges in the province are in a state of disrepair and becoming a blot on the educational scene. It is no secret that millions of rupees are lying unspent with various colleges because their administrations are not empowered to re-appropriate funds they collected from students under various heads. This is in addition to the tuition fee which is deposited with the government treasury.

Furthermore, the managements of colleges are not familiar with procedural modalities of utilising funds. The principals, especially female incumbents, fear audit and avoid spending college funds and taking initiatives.

The college councils are believed to be empowering the administrations of colleges in managing affairs at institutional level. They have been empowered to hold, use and administer the property and funds of the college. However, they will not be authorised to alienate college property.

These councils will be required to be well aware of the available funds, their generation mode, utilisation criteria, how to prepare and recommend budget besides submitting Annual Statement of Accounts to the government.

They will be required to prudently utilise funds allocated for the repairs and maintenance of college buildings besides assisting the principals in implementing development plans through public and private funding. They will also be empowered to re-appropriate multi-purpose funds received from students.

"The funds placed at disposal of college council will not be audited as per procedures laid down in the Punjab Financial Rule rather the college council in consultation with the government may arrange for conducting the audit through a private audit party at any time," says the notification.

The councils will be authorised to make and frame rules and regulations for maintaining discipline in colleges. They will decide and deliberate upon student affairs in order to support college administration. They will also furnish details for the funds' requirement and expenditure for the maintenance and repairs grant to the higher education department.

The councils will also supervise and implement admission policy of the government and maintain the standards of education with an analytical approach for students' results of quarterly and annual examinations. They will be required to keep liaison with the parents and community at large for facilitating students on their academic and social responsibilities and arrange financial assistance for the deserving students.

They will also get the annual college report and college magazine printed, and prepare and approve annual calendar of activities for the college.

The college councils will have the authority to recommend the transfer and posting of incumbents against sanctioned posts of the college as well as recommend suitable honorary/ad hoc teachers for the college against vacant posts to the government under HTAs policy or otherwise to be paid out of college funds. The councils will also be empowered to recommend postings and transfers, and disciplinary actions against the non-gazetted staff to the principal.

The councils will prescribe the duties of officers, teachers and other employees as well as recommend punitive actions in case of misconduct or inefficiency. They will arrange and conduct college inspection in accordance with the government policy and prescribed rules.

They have been assigned duties to promote co-curricular and extra-curricular activities such as establishing various student clubs in colleges, introducing various societies for debates, declamation, biological/environmental sciences, engineering, technical, computers, college magazine and sports.

The Punjab government has decided that the councils will be required to have a quorum of at least 50 per cent members to hold a meeting and decisions will be taken with a majority vote.

It has notified that the tenure of nominated members will be two years. In case the nominating authority wants to remove any member, other than MPA, it will move a reference to the Punjab higher education secretary for final decision.

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Peshawar varsity senate defers 50pc raise in salaries
Peshawar: The Senate of Peshawar University on Tuesday deferred 50 per cent increase in the salaries of its employees and approved an estimated budget of Rs1345.680 million with a shortfall of Rs454 million for the year 2010-11.

The decision was made at a meeting with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani, who is chancellor of the university, in the chair at the Governor's House, said a handout.

The senate was informed that the total impact of the proposed increase in salaries and pensions of the employees of the university comes to Rs241 millions, which if implemented, would increase the overall deficit to Rs635 million. Without any special support, the university would not be in a position to implement the proposal of 50 per cent increase in pay of its employees as per the announcement by the Federal Government in the federal budget.

The meeting adopted a unanimous resolution requesting both the federal and provincial governments to provide special grant to the university in this regard.

Appreciating the constitution of a special committee by the syndicate of the university in this respect, the senate widened its scope to suggest austerity measures with special focus on rationalising the existing financial expenditures to help the university in tackling the difficulties efficiently. The meeting asked the committee to finalise its recommendations by Aug 15.

Meanwhile the senate members discussed the budgetary estimates in the light of the prevailing circumstances and slashed ongoing development projects from ten to seven.

The meeting approved the actual expenditures of the university for the year 2008-9 and revised budget for the year 2009-10. The university, it was stressed, should re-introduce self-finance scheme in the evening shift and withdraw incentive of equal fee structure.

Responding to various points on the occasion, the governor said "we are faced with one of the toughest situations of our history and compelled by the ground realities to take hard decisions; the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is even contemplating on rolling back its annual development plan and divert resources towards relief and rehabilitation of flood affected people".

Responding to a point, he added, nobody was disputing the justification to enhance salaries of the employees but the facts on ground do not allow it. The suggestion put forward by a member that as and when the situation improves, the proposed increase may be granted, was approved unanimously.

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Students to take part in relief activities
Peshawar: The student societies of the University of Peshawar would work take part voluntarily in the rescue and relief activities to help the flood affected people in the province.

"In this regard student societies have been mobilised and formal committees have been formed," said Deputy Director Student Societies Mohammad Jamil in a press release, issued here on Monday.

He advised the students, who wanted to take part in the relief activities, to register their names at the office of the provost by Tuesday 10am so that they could be assigned their respective duties.

He said that the students would do a variety of relief activities ranging from field camps, distribution of relief goods and clothes to fund raising for the affected people. He said that Peshawar University Students Association was already engaged in relief activities and the societies in collaboration with the Centre for Disaster Preparedness and Management, University of Peshawar, would coordinate efforts for better disaster management.

Meanwhile, Controller Examination Iftikhar Hussain Khan visited examination halls in Mardan, Nowshera and Charsadda districts and announced postponement of the ongoing MA/MSc, B.Ed, M.Ed and MBA examinations till further orders.

He said that apart from cutting of land routes between various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the examination halls were also affected by flood.

Most of the people displaced by floods have been given shelter in the schools and college buildings where examination halls, particularly for private candidates, are situated. "Therefore in the best interest of the students the decision of postponing examination has been taken," said Mr Khan.

He said that as the situation got normal the examinations would be rescheduled accordingly. Dawn

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