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February 14, 2020

Ban on making decisions, recruitments in 12 varsities

Peshawar

February 14, 2020

PESHAWAR: The vice-chancellors of public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have expressed reservations over the government directives stopping them from taking major decisions including recruitments and called for an immediate withdrawal of the orders.

In an emergency meeting of the vice-chancellors’ committee, it was decided that an urgent meeting would be arranged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor, who is chancellor of public sector universities, to brief him about the pressing problems faced by the 12 public sector universities in the province.

The participants believed the decisions of the government were flawed and were adversely affecting the functioning of the universities. Some of them said the directives to stop the vice-chancellors of public sector universities from taking major decisions were tantamount to halting academic, research and development activities. They deemed it blatant interference in the affairs of the universities and violation of their autonomy.

They observed it was strange that the vice-chancellors were asked not to take decisions six months prior to the end of their tenure.

They noted that the government has already reduced the tenure of vice-chancellors from four to three years. During their tenure, they said they face similar bans from time to time and thus the functioning of the universities suffers adversely.

The vice-chancellors said currently several universities are functioning without regular vice-chancellors in the province and the positions of a number of others have been advertised before completion of their tenure in line with the Universities’ Act. “Thus 25 out of the 30 universities are unable to function,” one of them pointed out.

The academic and search committee had recently completed the process for appointment of vice-chancellors for eight public sector universities. However, owing to serious flaws and alleged irregularities in finalizing the panels for each university, the process was halted in the final stage, sources told The News.

The matter had been taken up by the National Assembly and was referred to two standing committees, which would further delay the appointment of regular vice-chancellors of these universities. The vice-chancellors committee also discussed the matters pertaining to the severe financial crisis in a number of universities.

The meeting decided to work out a comprehensive plan for overcoming the financial issue.

The plan, according to the decision taken during the meeting, would be submitted to the provincial government and the Higher Education Commission for curbing the expenditures and resolving the issue of the ballooning pensions.

The public sector universities in the province are suffering severe financial problems. Some varsities, especially the oldest ones such as the University of Peshawar, Agriculture University Peshawar and Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan, are even unable to pay salaries and pensions.

They have repeatedly requested the provincial government and the Higher Education Commission for a bail-out package but to no avail.