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November 7, 2020

PU restructuring plan worries faculty members

Lahore

November 7, 2020

LAHORE:Punjab University (PU) administration is all set for a large-scale restructuring of its various teaching faculties, institutes and departments and creation of new posts by taking the same to the university’s Syndicate, scheduled for 11 November, for approval.

However, the move has caused great concern among the university’s faculty members as most of them see this as an effort to “accommodate” favourite ones on key posts. The PU teachers expressed concern that the move could also lead the university into financial crisis as the university was already under financial stress due to cut in aid from HEC.

The teachers argue that the proposed plan also lacks any uniform criterion or rationale for creation of various faculties, schools centres and departments.

As per the plan, the PU administration is going for five Pro-Vice-Chancellors instead of currently one Pro-Vice-Chancellor. If approved by the Syndicate, PU will have five Pro-Vice-Chancellors - one each for Administration, Finance & Planning, Academics, Student Affairs and Research Development.

Talking to The News, a number of senior faculty members, seeking anonymity, said that restructuring proposed plan was placed as the last agenda item in the Academic Council meeting held on 27 October, 2020 while no working paper was shared with members of the Academic Council prior to the meeting. They added ironically instead of debating the issue in detail, a PowerPoint presentation was given to the member in haste which some members objected to but to no avail.

“Now the university administration has shared all this as recommended by the Academic Council”, said one of the teachers while adding the administration had been working on the plan “in isolation” for quite some time. “It is unfortunate that the stakeholders were not being taken on board,” he added.

Another faculty member questioned as to what will be the role of Registrar if the university has a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Administration and similarly what kind of duties the university’s Treasurer would perform in presence of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Finance & Planning. As per the restructuring plan, the PU administration is going to place the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) under a new faculty, the Faculty of Information and Media Studies from the Faculty of Behavioral and Social Science and to rename the institute as School of Communication Studies. The new school will have six departments, including Department of Journalism, Department of Communication & Media Research, Department of Public Relations & Advertising, Department of Film and Broadcasting, Department of Digital Media and Department of Development Communication.

The PU administration also plans to restructure Faculty of Economics & Management Sciences as Faculty of Business, Economics & Administrative Sciences and upgrading the Department of Economics as School of Economics. This new school will have five new departments, including Department of Economics, Department of Business Economics, Department of Econometrics and Quantitative Methods, Department of Economic Policy and Public Finance and PU Centre for Economics and Business Research.

“The university administration wants to create a department for each subject being taught,” a faculty member commented while expressing concern over the move. At the Faculty of Law, PU administration is planning to create a Postgraduate School of Legal Studies which will offer certificates, diplomas, LLM and PhD programmes while the existing University Law College will offer certificates, diplomas and LLB programmes only. Likewise many other faculties will be restructured with many new departments.

While the PUASA remained silent over the proposed plan, different teachers’ groups within the university held emergent meetings on Friday and expressed serious concern over the move. One such meeting was of the Core Committee of the Punjab University Council of Professionals (PU-CoPs) in which the committee expressed great concern about the proposed restructuring plan of the university “without proper consultation and developing consensus among the faculty members and in some cases even without following the proper academic channels like Board of Faculty and Board of Studies.”

According to a press release, the proposed plan lacks any uniform criterion or rationale for creation of various Faculties, Schools Centres and Departments. There is need to focus more on strengthening the existing structure and production of quality education.

Meanwhile, an emergent meeting of Punjab University Teachers Front (PU-TF) was also held in which the members expressed surprise at the significant changes made by the university administration, which did not adopt a uniform formula when creating new departments and faculties, but looked at different aspects behind each change.

PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Niaz Ahmad was not available for comments. When contacted, Registrar Dr Khalid Khan said the proposed restructuring was under discussion at various fora for almost two years now. He said since statutes were involved it was the prerogative of the university’s Syndicate to decide fate of the matter. He said the matter would be placed before the Syndicate on 11 November to discuss it and make any decision. He said after the Syndicate, it would be presented before the Senate as since all professors of the university were members of the Senate the teachers could decide its final fate.

Dr Khalid Khan said that since COVID-19 many meetings related to restructuring were held online; therefore, no hard copy of the working paper was shared before the Academic Council meeting as relevant materials was shared in form of soft copy online.

He said that even after the Academic Council recommended the plan, Vice-Chancellor invited feedback of the faculty members in black and white and for this one week time was given. To another question, he said many departments and HODs came up with recommendations and the same were incorporated before the latest working paper was shared for 11 November Syndicate meeting.