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November 16, 2017

Democracy in higher education institutions demanded


November 16, 2017


Participants of ‘Roundtable Dialogue on  Governance Issues in Higher Education’ on Wednesday expressed resolve for promotion of the working of higher education bodies  within constitutional limits, separation of functions of funding, quality assurance and respect for autonomy of universities

They also demanded inclusion of elected faculty and student representatives in statutory bodies of universities, promotion of democratic culture and appointment of capable persons through a merit based, transparent mechanism and discouraging adhocism and extension culture in higher education sector.

The event was organized by Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) and attended by elected faculty office bearers and representatives of civil society and media.

The speakers said that provincial governments should play their due role and meet the growing needs of higher education sector and universities through provision of required funding in the light of 18th Constitutional Amendment. They emphasized over federal and provincial governments to take all the concerned stakeholders on board especially elected faculty representatives while formulation of policies related to higher education. They were unanimous of the view that close door poor policies has resulted in low ranking of Pakistani higher education  system both at regional and international levels. It is high time to review all unilateral policies and all higher education bodies should work according to the mandate and limits prescribed by Constitution of Pakistan.

The speakers lamented that the Higher Education governance model is based on dictatorial mindsets. They requested to restore democracy in higher education as per the 1973 constitution. “The Act’s old and well established universities like Karachi University, Punjab University and Peshawar University were splendid and formed on the democratic norms, we want the act of each university to be revised as per the acts of these well established universities with some addition/subtractions,” said the speakers.

They further stressed that HEC and government should respect university autonomy and academic freedom. “The university autonomy implies the strengthening of the statutory forum not the vice-chancellors.  The appointment of vice-chancellors, Presidents and rectors of universities should be made through a transparent and merit based approach, the political interference in these appointments should be curtailed.”

The called for discouraging the culture of extension. “The extension of incompetent heads of institutions spoils the research, teaching and overall culture of the institute. Perhaps, the biggest hurdle in transparency and elevation of higher education is the incompetent and corrupt heads of institutes they lamented,” they opined. The heads of institute should present their progress to faculty and students after each year. They suggest this practice will bring transparency in the affairs of universities and is vital for uplifting of higher education.

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