Ordinance to reduce VCs tenure raise eyebrows

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  • As academicians plan to challenge amendment in rules to cut down VCs’ tenure to two years, HED secretary says summary forwarded to Law Department to amend rules through ordinance

Pakistan Today has learnt that an amendment in university rules through an ordinance is on the cards for decreasing the tenure of vice chancellors of public sector universities from four years to two years while several prominent personalities from the country’s higher education circles have vowed to move court against the “planned move”.

Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) General Secretary Associate Professor Dr Mehboob Hussain told this scribe that the proposed ordinance depicted that “education is not the government’s priority”.

“A reduction in VCs’ tenure will force them to indulge in facilitating politicians and bureaucrats for further extensions as two years are not enough to perform adequately,” he said.

Comparing Pakistan’s educational policies to that of foreign countries, Dr Hussain said, “A professor retires in a foreign country of his own will but here the situation is opposite as even VCs are not sure about their future.” He pointed out that they could move the court against the ordinance in future.

Former Federation of All Pakistan Professor Union of Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) general secretary and Government College University (GCU) Lahore Academic Staff Association (ASA) General Secretary Dr Hamid Mukhtaar lamented the delay in VCs appointments in public sector universities. He said that there were a lot of issues pending in GCU due to non-availability of vice chancellor.

Dr Mukhtaar revealed that the Higher Education Department (HED) tried to hide the news of proposed ordinance from top academicians to prevent them from any sort of agitation. He further commented that the ordinance is a “deliberate attempt by the powerful bureaucracy” to benefit the already flourishing private universities as no VC will be successful to implement his policies in just two years effectively. He told the scribe that they will challenge the ordinance in court from the platform of ASA Punjab.

Moreover, sharing his views with Pakistan Today, a former VC of a renowned university, on anonymity, said the policy is a “plan to ruin the already deteriorating higher education in the country”. He was of the view that no one will dare coming to Pakistan from abroad to serve in any university if these experiments in the education sector continue.

Furthermore, a contender for the position of VC in one of ten public sector universities in Punjab on anonymity told Pakistan Today that the two-year tenure for any VC will hinder him from performing to best of his abilities.

A leading educationist and historian, Dr Tahir Kamran was of the view that it was too early to judge the outcome of the expected ordinance. He was of the view that the purposed ordinance suggested that the government was not satisfied with the performance of some VCs in the past and now will try to judge them on the basis of their two-year performance and give them extension if they perform well.

Dr Kamran, who recently came back from Cambridge University from Iqbal Chair, criticised the standard of public sector universities of Pakistan and said that he has not witnessed even a single book authored by any professor from public universities in the recent past.

It is pertinent to mention here that the HED issued a notification in April this year seeking applications from interested candidates by April 28 and mentioned the tenure for VCs as four years. A huge exercise was carried out by the search committee while shortlisted 30 candidates; three each for ten universities. These shortlisted candidates were individually interviewed by the chief minister himself, according to sources.

When contacted, Punjab Higher Education Commission Chairman Dr Nizamud Deen said that he was unaware of the purposed ordinance. He refused to comment till the issuance of the ordinance.

In the meanwhile, Higher Education Department Secretary Irum Bukhari confirmed that the department is working on a plan to reduce the tenure of VCs. She told Pakistan Today that a summary has been forwarded to the Law Department to amend the rules through an ordinance but she refused to disclose as to how many days will be required for the process to complete.

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