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VCs appointment flawed procedure

VCs appointment process comes under question
Karachi, Dec 21: As the process of selection of vice chancellors of public-sector universities have begun at the Governor's House, senior academicians have once again severely criticised what they described as the 'flawed procedure' of appointing the head of a higher education institution and demanded that the chancellor bring merit to the appointment mechanism.

The chancellor, they argued, had been granting 'too many extensions' and a continuation of the same was bound to further deteriorate the standard of education at the institutions of higher learning.

They feared that the recent meetings of the search committee tasked to suggest names for the post of vice chancellors at two major public-sector universities had increased the likelihood that once again the same candidates would be picked up for the appointment.

They also criticised the chancellor's decision to set up one search committee for both Karachi University and Dow University of Health Sciences as these institutions are meant for entirely different disciplines.

Sources said that the search committee at a meeting held at the Governor's House on Sunday shortlisted three candidates for the appointment of the vice chancellor of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS).

Though no notification for appointment has been issued yet, a section of the press has already reported that the incumbent DUHS VC Prof Dr Masood Hameed (second term) has been appointed for a third term.

Officials at the Governor's House were not willing to deny or confirm the story.

"If this news is true, then one is surprised over the haste shown in making the appointment," a senior teacher at the DUHS remarked.

DUHS pro-vice chancellor Prof Dr Umer Farooq said: "I have heard the news, but can't confirm it since I haven't yet seen the notification about appointment."

Interestingly, a previous meeting of the search committee was put off when one of its members objected to the inclusion of Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui's name in the list of candidates.

Prof Siddiqui is completing his second term as vice chancellor of Karachi University.

Both Prof Siddiqui and Prof Hameed had been applicants and, at the same time, part of the search committee until the chancellor had to revise the body under what had been described as "public pressure".

There have also been instances in which the chancellor directly appointed vice chancellors without publicising the post in newspapers and involving the search committee.

'A humiliating method'
The procedure of appointing vice chancellors, according to some KU teachers, was 'humiliating' and the present members might be experts of their respective fields but did not meet the criteria to be part of a body tasked with suggesting names for a highly prestigious post.

"It is degrading for a senior professor who has the distinction of serving an institution of higher education as long as 30 years to wait in line for an interview and then being told, as happened recently, that the interviews have been postponed," said Dr Haris Shoaib, representing the Karachi University Teachers' Society (Kuts).

Dr Shoaib was of the opinion that the appointment of vice chancellor had become highly politicised and when everyone knew that the chancellor was the deciding authority there was no need for an "embarrassing exercise" just to silence critics and show that the procedure was transparent, though in reality it wasn't.

Such a post, he said, should be offered to acknowledge the services of an eminent scholar.

Regarding the criteria for a vice chancellor, he said that the post required a person with high academic credentials and a non-controversial background. Preference should be given to an in-service employee of the same university so that they could easily take the teachers along in the academic and administrative affairs, he said.

He expressed surprise as to why there was no Higher Education Commission (HEC) representation in the search committee interviewing candidates for the selection of vice chancellors.

Commenting on the composition of the search committee, Dr Idrees Adhi, head of the eye department, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and president of the Pakistan Medical Association, Karachi, said that the members' selection was odd.

"It's unfair that only one person from the medical field has been included in the search committee. At least three medical professionals and fourth with experience in medical education should have been part of the committee," he said, referring to the current member of the search committee, orthopaedic surgeon Dr Ali Mohammad Ansari.

Irrelevant individuals would not even understand the curriculum vitae of medical professionals who would apply for the post.

"Besides, it is also important that we have new individuals so that a university grows with fresh ideas," he said.

It is worth noting here that the present members of the search committee for the KU and the DUHS include: retired justice Haziqul Khairi, Dr S.M. Qureshi (committee convener and head of the chartered inspection and evaluation committee), Dr Ali Mohammad Ansari (former director-general of health), Prof U.A.G. Isani (former head of the University Grants Commission and vice chancellor of Iqra University), Dr Ishrat Hussain (IBA director and former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan), Prof A.Q. Mughal (vice chancellor of the Sindh Agriculture University, Tando Jam) and Mumtaz-ur-Rehman (principal secretary to the Sindh governor).

MOU and search committee
Teachers also argued that the present form of the search committee was not what was envisioned in the Model University Ordinance, 2002 from where the idea of having a search committee for vice chancellor's appointment originated and recommended by the HEC as a policy guideline for selecting a vice chancellor.

According to the ordinance meant for universities under the federal government, a vice chancellor shall be appointed on the basis of recommendations made by the senate which, it states, will constitute a committee that will include two eminent members of society nominated by the chancellor, two members of the senate, two distinguished teachers who are not members of the senate and one academician of eminence not employed by the university.

"Over the past eight years, none of the universities run under the Model University Ordinance have followed this criteria.

And, now the search committee formed by the chancellor include serving vice chancellors, public servants and bureaucrats, instead of eminent intellectuals and members of the academia," says Dr Riaz Ahmed, a senior teacher at the KU applied chemistry department.

He expressed surprise that the HEC insisted on a very strict criteria based on academic research and publications for the post of deans and department chairpersons, but it didn't have such conditions for the selection of a vice chancellor and, rather, based its criteria on vague terms such as individuals with "leadership qualities, vast knowledge and experience, etc".

He said: "Politicians through the Governor's House and the bureaucracy through the HEC control the levers of appointment of vice chancellors. As a result, vice chancellors no more consider themselves accountable to the university's statutory bodies which now play a ceremonial role."

Higher Education Commission head Javed Leghari, however, disagreed with the argument and said that the HEC had no say in the vice chancellor's appointment and it was up to the chancellor's discretion who to appoint, though the commission would like to have its representation in the search committee.

"The HEC's role is of making policies, guidelines and providing funds. I have always asked for a better representation in the search committee in order to ensure transparency in the procedure. The commission doesn't interfere in administrative affairs," he said.

Objections
Prof Badr Soomro, former president of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association, Sindh chapter, alleged that vice chancellors had been appointed at the Sindh University of Agriculture, Tando Jam; Quaid-i-Awam University of Engineering and Technology, Nawabshah, and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Larkana without giving an opportunity to other applicants through a newspaper advertisement.

Mr Soomro had sent an application to the Supreme Court's human rights wing last year against what he called the "flawed appointments" of many vice chancellors.

"The list of vice chancellors who have served more than once either at the same university or different universities includes the names of Dr Rasheed Ahmed Shah [fourth term at Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto University Lyari, Karachi], Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui [second term at the KU], Prof Dr Masood Hameed [second term at DUHS], Abdul Kalam [fourth term at the NED University of Engineering and Technology], Dr Nazir Ahmed Mughal [second term at Sindh University], Dr Abdul Qadeer Rajput [third term at Mehran University for Engineering and Technology], Dr A.Q. Mughal [member search committee with second term at Sindh University of Agriculture, Tando Jam], Dr Nilofar Sheikh [second term at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur], Rasul Baksh Baloch [retired bureaucrat at Benazir Bhutto University, Nawabshah], Dr Akbar Haider Soomro [appointed without an advertisement at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Medical University, Larkana]," he said.

There had been no action from the Supreme Court yet, he said, alleging that all these appointments had been made on political grounds.

"With the exception of three cases, all vice chancellors retired a long time ago and there is a need to see whether they are mentally and physically fit to do their job," he concluded. Dawn

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Punjab govt to recruit 33,000 teachers, PA told
Lahore: Punjab Education Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on Tuesday claimed in the Punjab Assembly that the government had decided to recruit 33,000 school teachers in the next academic session.

With the Education department at the PA agenda during the question-answer session, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman gave answers to the provincial assembly members, with Mehar Mushtaq in the chair on Tuesday in the absence of speaker and deputy speaker.

Responding to the questions from the members, the education minister claimed that at a cost of four billion rupees, the process of providing all necessary facilities to schools had been kicked off, which would be completed by June next. To a question, the minister said that the DPS schools were autonomous and had their own system to regulate their fees -- ranging from Rs2,100 to Rs6,000 at different tiers of studies.

Nighat Nasir Sheikh challenged the answer that drinkable water available in the schools in 35 districts of the Punjab was hygienically fit for consumption.

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GCU forms affiliation body
Lahore: Government College University (GCU) has constituted an Affiliation Committee to formulate rules and regulations for the affiliation of other educational institutions with the university. The university's Academic Council and Syndicate have approved the constitution of the committee. The move is aimed to generate its own resources in the wake of ever growing concern over poor funding by the government to public varsities. The news

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Book launch ceremony held at Alhamra
Lahore: The launch ceremony of a book titled "Korakaram kay Barf Zaro Say" written by Jawad Sherazi was held under the auspices of the Sufi Tabassum Art Academy at Alhamra on Tuesday.

Renowned writer Munno Bhai presided over the ceremony while Mustansar Hussain Tarar was the chief guest. Akhtar Mamunka, Aslam Kamal, Yasir Pirzada, Dr. Ahsan Akhtar were also present at the occasion. The book is a travelogue about the breathtaking beauty of Pakistan's northern areas. Speakers at the ceremony said that Jawad's book could play a huge role in reviving tourism in the region. Daily times

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