NED teachers, VC at odds over policies

KARACHI, June 18(Dawn): There is a widespread sense of discontent among the teaching cadres of the NED University of Engineering and Technology. Teachers seem locked in a bitter tussle with the administration, as they feel unnecessarily strapped by certain policies imposed by high-ups.

Sources in the institution maintain that some teachers have been victimised on the basis of unsubstantiated complaints, lodged through anonymous e-mails. The validity of these complaints, sources believe, has neither been ascertained nor investigated.

According to some, the university's new bureaucratic environment has fuelled much apprehension amongst both teachers and students. When asked to comment on their disturbing circumstances, the teachers refused to say anything on record and expressed fear towards the Vice Chancellor, Engr. Abul Kalam.

"Many teachers have been transferred to other campuses without any reason," claimed a source, adding that the notification from the administration merely mentioned the complaints against the teachers received through anonymous e-mails.

"Apart from that, rules such as making a minimum of 54 classes of a batch per year compulsory even if the course has been completed are simply beyond comprehension," remarks an angry professor.

Some of the other rules include mandatory hours. Teachers have to stay on the campus from 8.30 in the morning to 3.30 in the afternoon with instructions to clock in and clock out.

Lecturers believe that this makes them easy prey to partiality. They say that if they are late on occasion, the heads of the departments can turn the timesheets against them. Moreover, they also assert that the university's policy of not awarding a 'zero' to any student even in the event of a no-show is nothing short of absurd.

"If anyone dares to complain about the university's policies, he may either lose his job or be transferred elsewhere," says a lecturer.

Although all teachers agree that initially, the vice chancellor had taken some brilliant steps towards improving the standards of education and had proved to be the right man for the job, they regret that over a period of time misunderstandings have cropped up between the VC and the teaching corps. They hold 'some people close to him' responsible for the situation.

"We are highly concerned about the university's ranking, which has gone down in recent years," say students who are 'customers' in the university's policy papers. "When we look at other universities, we feel that our university is following a course which is fairly outdated."

However, the man at the helm of the affairs dismisses these contentions as 'scandalous allegations'. "The teachers who have been transferred are more interested in politics than teaching," he maintains, pointing out that a proper investigation is carried out before anyone is subjected to such action."

Referring to the marking system, he says, "We pick the best students from the rest and feel that they do not deserve a zero in any case."

The VC also vehemently defends the time monitoring procedures. "When the university pays the teachers, it has the right to ensure their presence on the campus till all the classes are over. Why should there be any confusion about that?" He believes that it is highly unlikely for teachers to complete such an intensive course before the prescribed time.

Given the rigid stance on either side, this controversy is unlikely to go beyond a stalemate for a while. However, the administration, despite all its reasons, has to address the concerns of both students and teachers to prevent a decline coming to the standards of this old and recognised institution.

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