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Dilemma of Universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

National

September 30, 2019

Universities are the highest seats of academic learning and research innovations in the world. There were very few universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a decade ago and that too were located in the few big cities of the province. During the five-year of Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) coalition government in the province, significant number of new universities were established. The number was further increased during the first five-year tenure of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rule in the province. These universities have produced thousands of graduates, who have been making great contributions to the socio-economic development of the country in general and the province in particular. A good number of these graduates have also been serving abroad and thus earning handsome foreign exchange.

Batches of vice-chancellors have been appointed to run these universities, among which some have done justice with their jobs against the prized positions, while others have misused the opportunity for earning illegal money and pleasing the high-ups through illegal appointments.

Mismanagement, funds embezzlement, misuse of power and funds, surplus appointments, promotions of blue-eyed employees, appointments of loved ones against academic and administrative positions, illegal awarding bids to preferred contractors, launch of academic programs without approval/NOC from Higher Education Commission, denying due rights to students and other stakeholders have been observed as common practices in several universities.

These illegal and unjust practices by some of the vice-chancellors destroyed their respective academic institutions. University of Peshawar, Agricultural University Peshawar, Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan and Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, are some of the examples where such irregularities and mismanagement have adversely affected the institutions. Due to inefficiency and ignorance of the respective heads of these seats of learning, majority of the employees and students have been deprived of their due rights. Promotions could not be given to deserved officers, students were not provided the opportunities of study tours. Chemicals and equipment were found unavailable in laboratories. Libraries lacked books and training and faculty development programmes remained missing. Many of the deprived faculty members managed to secure their due rights through the courts of law. One of the major dilemmas of universities is that many non-educationists and academically poor professionals are nominated for the higher forums like syndicate and senate of the universities. Since these personnel are nominated on personal links and not on the basis of their qualification and academic excellence or any significant contribution in their career, they badly hinder the whole academic process and growth of the universities. This also affects academic activities at the college level as all the colleges are affiliated with these universities.

Many of such nominees have very poor academic records and nothing could be expected of them as far as academic affairs of the universities are concerned. In most cases such nominees use their nominations for getting personal gains. They remain more interested in getting their relatives and friends recruited or promoted than focusing attention on academic and administrative well-being of the universities. Surprisingly these poor academic record holders give suggestions/recommendations for the uplift of higher education in the country, which is tantamount to a big joke with the education system especially at the highest academic forums.

Fortunately, our country has high number of world renowned academicians and researchers who have significantly contributed to the uplift of higher education in the country. To mention a few among them one can’t forget the names of late Prof G M Khattak, Ex-Chairman Universities Grants Commission, Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, former Chairman HEC and Prof Mukhtar Ahmad, who have revolutionized higher education in the country. Hundreds of academicians and researchers are serving and hundreds have retired from various universities/research institutes of the country who have made significant contributions in their respective fields. So, in the presence of these world renowned academicians and researchers, nominations of professionals with very poor academic record and zero know-how about the present researches and future challenges for higher education and researchers in the country were meaningless. Luckily, political interference in the universities has reduced to its minimum, but the old mindset still exists in the universities on different forum who used to run the universities on “Show me the face, I will tell you the rule”.

Based on the above mentioned facts it is humbly submitted to the high ups of the provinces and the country to nominate only renowned academicians and researchers to the highest forums of the universities like syndicate and senate. Academic and professional career record of the nominees must be verified through a committee of renowned academicians and relevant professionals before making any such nominations.

Nominations of personnel with poor academic record and zero contribution to their respective departments must not be made to the higher forums of universities. The officers, who have made significant contributions in their career, should be nominated only in their respective departments. People with poor academic record should be restrained from all kinds of discussions and debates through print and electronic media on higher education in the country and only relevant professionals shall be allowed to discuss present and future scenario and uplift of higher education in the country. The officials interested in writing for print media and appearing on electronic media should only proudly tell their contributions in their respective fields of career.

The author is Vice-Chancellor of University of Swabi. He also holds additional charge as Vice-Chancellor Women University, Swabi. He is Fellow of Royal Entomological Society (FRES) London.

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