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May 18, 2017

FAPUASA refuses to accept CM as public universities’ chancellor


May 18, 2017

Says government needs to change the manner in which it runs Sindh’s universities

Teachers’ representatives refuse to accept Sindh’s chief minister as the chancellor of public universities, stated a communiqué released after deliberations of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association’s (FAPUASA) provincial chapter on Wednesday.

The meeting was presided over by Prof Jurial Sangi, president of the FAPUASA Sindh and the Mehran University of Engineering & Technology Academic Staff Association.

Dr Sangi expressed pleasure over the FAPUASA’s efforts especially in pursuing the appointments of full-term vice-chancellors in the University of Karachi and the University of Sindh in Jamshoro, hoping that the process of appointing the Dow University of Health Sciences’ VC on merit would also be completed in a transparent manner.

He pointed out that some universities in the province were being adversely affected because of unqualified and inexperienced VCs and retired personnel on key positions.

He cited the example of the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University in Nawabshah, where, he said, a person without a PhD who had never taught at university level and had zero research experience was made the VC.

He also gave the example of Jamshoro’s Liaquat University of Medical Health Sciences, where, he said, the VC continued to hold the office against the rules even after termination of his second tenure.

Prof Sangi then pointed out the instance of Larkana’s Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University, where, he said, a junior faculty member had been appointed as pro-VC. “The Sindh government needs to change the manner in which it runs the universities of the province.”


Case against CM

FAPUASA Sindh General Secretary Dr Shakeel Farooqi said that it would be a disaster if a purely political office started serving as the chancellor’s office.

“Universities around the world are traditionally autonomous bodies, and this is why during the 70-year history of Pakistan, universities were constitutionally kept as autonomous institutions. Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians have resolved to breach the autonomy of the institutions of higher education through political manoeuvring.”

He said the “illegitimate” decision of “transgression” by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to verify degrees, especially those of politicians, had roused a reaction from the political leadership. He emphasised that it was time to fine-tune the HEC’s role.

Dr Farooqui said the governor also needed to be apolitical to serve as the chancellor, or else a person of high stature and extraordinary academic achievement should be appointed on the position.

Retirees denounced

The meeting denounced appointments of retirees on key posts at universities in violation of the Supreme Court’s directives. Dr Farooqi said: “Just today the Sindh High Court has passed an order against appointments beyond the age of superannuation.”

He said that if the government wished retirees to run the affairs, then why it did not increase the age of superannuation, adding that the FAPUASA had demanded raising the age of superannuation of university teachers to 65 years.


Universities law

The FAPUASA expressed dismay over the Sindh government’s failure to adhere to the written agreement it had signed with the association in 2013 to withdraw the “anti-academic” amendments in the universities law.

The teachers’ body expressed disappointment over “continued attempts to interfere with the autonomy of universities as well as appointments on key posts without the recommendation of the statutory selection boards and the order of the statutory appointing authority, the syndicate”.

The association demanded that the government move the Sindh Assembly to squash the amendments, condemned “ad hoc arrangements” in the provincial HEC and insisted on appointing a full-time and committed academician as the commission’s secretary as well as a full-time and committed boards & universities secretary.

FAPUASA’s demands

The FAPUASA criticised the government’s “disparity” in awarding grants to universities, whereby smaller universities, and in some cases universities without proper a VC, faculty and students, received more grant than larger universities.

The teachers’ body demanded that the government provide annual grants to universities in proportion to the size of their permanent faculty and student enrolment.

The association urged the HEC not to interfere in the functions of the statutory bodies, such as the senate, syndicate, academic council and board of advanced studies & research, and not to breach the autonomy of universities.

They demanded that the HEC not interfere with the MPhil programme leading to PhD programme at various universities, and that it withdraw the communiqué regarding the three-year waiting period for fresh PhDs before they could supervise a PhD student.

They asked the HEC to withdraw its unilateral decision to terminate the two- and three-year Bachelors programme and one- and two-year Masters programme at various universities, and to ensure non-discriminatory and non-partisan policies for public universities, especially relating to annual, research and travel grants.


‘Interference’ slammed

The FAPUASA denounced “interference from federal organisations, such as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), in the form of intimidation and threats to teachers regarding their employment, promotion and other service-related issues”.

The teachers’ body cited the case of Khairpur’s Shah Abdul Latif University, where, they said, an FIA official was sending letters to professors at various universities asking them to report to him for investigation into certain promotion cases.

The association emphasised that promotion was the purview of university authorities, and that they were determined to stand up to “high-handedness”.

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