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March 23, 2018

No change in criteria for VCs: HED


March 23, 2018

LAHORE: Higher Education Department (HED) Punjab defending PhD degree as a ‘preferable’ requirement only instead of ‘mandatory’ has upheld its criteria for appointment of Vice Chancellors (VCs) of public sector universities in the province.

This was made clear in HED’s response to Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations (FAPUASA) which in February this year had forwarded its concerns and suggestions to the department over the issue.

However, the HED’s response has been rejected by the FAPUASA which has announced calling an emergency meeting over the issue in which the academic body would weigh different options including academic boycott at universities.

The HED’s letter by its deputy secretary (universities) Muhammad Tayyab Zia, addressed to FAPUASA Punjab chapter president Prof Dr Javed Ahmad, stated the position of VC was primarily a leadership position, “a vital aspect of which entails having strong management and administrative capabilities.” The department observed that the intent of the government was to devise criteria that would allow for the inclusion of candidates from the academic community. “Therefore, while the compulsion of having a PhD degree to be appointed as a Vice Chancellor has been removed, substantial preference and premium, in terms of marks, has been retained for candidates having a PhD degree,” reads the letter, a copy of which is available with The News.

It is pertinent to mention here that in its February letter the FAPUASA had accused the HED of ignoring some very basic and vital parameters of measurement of professional excellence of an academic leader for appointment as VC. The federation had observed that the basic qualification for the post of VC must be PhD in relevant field of university instead of ‘preferably PhD’.

Nonetheless, the HED has now maintained that the criteria notified by the Punjab government was in compliance with the guidelines prescribed by the Federal HEC. “These guidelines list PhD only as preferred and therefore, not a mandatory requirement, nor do these contain any clause for minimum research publications for eligibility to the post.”

The department also mentioned recent advertisement for the post of VC, Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) Islamabad observing this federally chartered university also required applicants to be ‘preferably’ PhD.

When contacted, FAPUASA Punjab chapter president Prof Dr Javed Ahmad said the department’s reply was really disappointing as it lacked answers to many concerns expressed by the teaching fraternity—the real stakeholders.

He said it showed lack of seriousness on part of the HED who treated the very important issue very casually. To explain, he said the FAPUASA had been demanding that to consider the post of VC as an ‘academic leadership position’ and not just a ‘leadership position’.

“We had submitted some 20 suggestions and they replied to just one and that too after weeks instead of addressing the concerns within a week as assured,” Prof Javed said. He added no funding agency had extended Rs 500 million grant to individuals from academic/research organisations while the HED’s criteria favoured those who had secured substantial funding.

Prof Javed said an emergent meeting of the FAPUASA would be convened soon to devise future plan of action. He warned that the Federation would weigh different options including going on an academic boycott at universities as the Punjab government was adamant to ignore the genuine concerns of the stakeholders.

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