Poltical interference in universities | HEC funding
Public university chancellors and everything in between
Karachi, Feb 10: Academics, students and members of civil society are concerned
about political interference in university affairs from the offices of the
President, federal education ministers, governors and provincial education
ministers, who serve as Chancellors and Pro Chancellors respectively of federal
and provincial public sector universities.
Stakeholders of the higher
education sector are concerned that the continuous interference of politicians
in university affairs is corroding educational standards. It has been observed
that secretaries in the Governor House pressure universities to appoint their
candidates at open positions, admit students without the merit and sometimes
even alter results as happened in Final Professional MBBS examinations a couple
of years ago.
Vice Chancellor of the University of
Karachi (KU) Prof. Pirzada Qasim said: "There is no doubt that the post of
Chancellors and Pro Chancellors should be given to the senior academics or
highly educated members of civil society that are familiar with the intricacies
of higher education. It was a general trend in undivided India to appoint
retired Justices of Supreme Court as the Chancellors of the universities. The
same practice is still in vogue in India and other countries from the Western
Europe and North America. In my opinion such person should have character and be
devoted to education and be highly educated."
Federal Urdu University of
Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Qaisar thought
that the government officials could do more with the university if they wanted
to. "I think it is not a bad idea. We are a Federal University and the President
is our Chancellor while the Federal Education Minister is the Pro Chancellor. If
we want some monetary help from the government, it could be done in no time if
President heeds our request. An academic, whatever his educational excellence,
might not be as effective in acquiring financial aid from the
A senior Faculty Member at KU, who has a PhD from an
American university, openly gave her opinions in this regard. "It is unfortunate
that some one who does not have the academic credentials becomes a chancellor
while the Vice Chancellors and other senior faculty members have to be his
subordinate. It is a situation that often embarrasses me. Recently I saw a Vice
Chancellor with an academic pedigree of more than 40 years standing in the
presence of Federal Education Minister during the convocation. It is
Another senior faculty member from the Arts faculty reminded
that Higher Education Commission (HEC), thankfully, had the regulation that its
Chairman would be a PhD and that is why Shahnaz Vazir Ali, a non-PhD, is an
acting Chairperson of HEC until the newly appointed Chairperson Dr Shirin
Tahirkheli comes from the US to take charge. "Look at it this way", the
Professor said, "The requirements for the VC of a university include the ability
to command respect from colleagues and students, managerial qualities and an
impeccable academic background. However, there are no requirements for a
Chancellor. They are political appointees. I remember a Chancellor, member of a
prominent family of Sindh, who had no respect for teachers. The person had no
any other qualification than being a blue-eyed boy from a family that has clout
in Sindh and whole of Pakistan".
A senior professor in NED University of
Engineering & Technology agreed that the practice was highly objectionable
and a matter of concern but it was the way in Pakistan. "The Vice Chancellors at
public sector universities have become non-entities. They are neither respected
by their seniors (chancellors) nor by the staff under them. It is a very
thankless job. It is the result of government clout in the affairs of the
university. I had a personal encounter with the Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad
who was very respectful to me. But that is rare, in most cases chancellors have
no respect for the teachers". The same Professor said about a retired
Major from the Governor House who is dictating the administration of many public
universities. The News
VCs ask govt not to cut HEC funding
Islamabad: A meeting of the vice-chancellors' committee held here
on Monday called upon the government not to stop the steep trajectory of
development varsities were put on during the last five years.
was held to seek suggestions from the heads of varsities to devise a resolution
on the issue.
The meeting brought together about sixty vice-chancellors
of public sector varsities from all over the country.
Due to the huge
budgetary cuts, only 30 per cent of the allocated funds were released to Higher
Education Commission (HEC) in the last quarter. The reductions resulted in
withdrawal of as many as 85 projects initiated by the HEC. The commission
was also deprived of more allocations for foreign scholarships.
scholars who were selected for scholarships in the current year could not be
sent abroad due to the financial constraints, while those already sent abroad
were also facing financial hardships.
The participants were unanimous in
their opinion that if not given due importance, the situation could lead to
devastating consequences including lawlessness on the campuses.
the drastic cuts could also affect the quality of education being imparted at
the public varsities as it was affecting various projects initiated by the
They feared that if treated like public schools, the varsities
too will soon lose status among the public.
They also felt the need for a
strong political will on part of the government to deal with the issue on a
priority basis. The level of commitment shown by the government at present is
very low and there is a need for rethinking as setting the priorities was
concerned, they noted.
"The government has not taken any step to improve
the situation rather is depending on mere slogans and good will gestures to run
the affairs," remarked one of the participants.
The committee after a
thorough discussion passed a resolution demanding priority for higher education
in particular inclusion of education as the first item in the national budget,
increase in education budget in line with norms in the world especially in the
regional countries. Dawn
Post your comments
40pc cut in HEC budget on cards
Islamabad: Against the orders of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who
directed the Finance Ministry to sustain the recurring budget of the Higher
Education Commission up to Rs23 billion the cabinet has approved 30pc to 40pc
budget cut in real terms annually for the next three years.
The cabinet has
approved a three-year budgetary framework for HEC in which the recurring budgets
will be increased only by 10 per cent, 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
With an annual inflation of 23.5 per cent and rupee depreciation against the
dollar by 20-30 per cent, this will mean a decrease in operating budgets of at
least 40 per cent annually, a sure way to kill all the good work done in the
last 6 years.
On May 12, 2008 Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani had directed the restoration
of a cut of Rs 5 billion made in the recurring grant of the financial year of
2007-08 for universities and sustain the recurring budget requirement of Rs. 23
billion for the financial year 2008-09.
The current total operating budget
of all 60 public sector universities taken together amounts to a paltry Rs18
billion which works out to Rs300 million per university per year that is only
US$ 3.7 million per university per year.
The cabinet decision to cut
university budgets in real terms by 30 to 40 per cent annually for the next
three years therefore come as a huge shock.
"There seems to be a conspiracy cooking up to downgrade the already very weak
higher education sector. How can one think of improvement in the affairs of the
HEC in spite of the fact that there has been no increase in the budget and the
universities have no amount to give 20 per cent raise to the employees in the
salaries announced by the government," said one of the officials of the
Moreover the future of the 4,000 scholars sent abroad for Ph.D.
is at stake. The government has been spending about Rs9 million on each student
making it around Rs36 billion on the total 4,000 students.
needs Rs8 billion to Rs10 billion extra to absorb all these students to provide
them research facilities and equipment and Rs4 billion for their salaries as
they all will be back with in three years.
Babar calls for proper study of HEC law varsity project
Islamabad: Establishment of law university with its campuses at different cities
of the country, is unique and wonderful idea but there is a need for
comprehensive and revised study of the project to make the university one of the
best in the region.
Federal Minister for Preliminary Affairs Dr Babar Awan
said this while chairing a meeting regarding launch of the National Law
University at HEC Headquarters Friday. He stressed that input of professional lawyers and experts should be there to bring the university at par with international standards.
The university should be market-oriented
and degree-holders of the university should be assured for their jobs.
He suggested that an independent survey of existing public and private law
colleges should be conducted to get know-how of their curriculum as well as
He assured all his assistance and cooperation for getting the
charter of the university approved from the Parliament.
Dr Awan said that
besides other theoretical components, the focus on the ethics law should be
Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Adviser to Prime Minister and
Chairperson HEC welcomed Dr Awan and said that his guidelines and cooperation would be of immense value for the HEC particularly in the
establishment of the law university.
She also suggested that the modern courses should be included in the curriculum
like economic law, e-crime, environmental law and aviation law. She further
suggested that public-private partnership would be an added advantage for
establishment of the university as well as quality assurance.
H Naqvi, Executive Director HEC briefed the federal minister about the ongoing
programmes of the HEC including scarcity of funds faced by the commission in
the prevailing financial crunch across the country.
As many as 18 HEC
scholars, who have completed their LLM studies abroad, are awaiting launch of
the university for their services. In this regard, a huge amount has already
been spent on the infrastructure of the university but due to financial
restraints, all the development works have come to a halt. The Nation
Post your comments