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June 14, 2021

Eyebrows raised as Fuuast acting administration holds appointment tests for hundreds of lecturers

File photo of Fuuast.

Some current and retired faculty members of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) have raised concerns over what they said irregularities in the aptitude tests for recruitment of lecturers in the varsity that were held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

They had earlier demanded of the Fuuast acting administration to ensure transparency in the hiring process by engaging a third party in conducting the assessment process. Two members of the Fuuast senate, Dr Irfan Aziz of the mass communication department and Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan, a retired teacher of the varsity, wrote a letter to the current acting administration of Fuuast to highlight what they called irregularities in the hiring process.

“Taking into account the Senate instructions, the Fuuast acting management decided to make an aptitude test mandatory for the candidates to be appointed on the positions of lecturers advertised in 2013 and 2017,” the letter read.

They wrote in the letter that making appointments through an aptitude test was a good move, but remarked that following other departments functioning under the federal government, the varsity should make sure to hold the test procedure under the supervision of the National Testing Service or any other third party for the sake of transparency.

In the past, owing to internally-arranged tests for the appointment of lecturers, the varsity had to face serious legal and administrative issues. The two senate members are of the view that as the current acting administration of Fuuast has continued with an internally-designed test for hiring, the selection process would likely be legally challenged, aggravating the administrative issues at the varsity.

Hundreds of appointments

The selection process needed to be transparent to avoid any future controversy as the varsity intends to appoint hundreds of lecturers on its basis. Due to this, some faculty members believe that it was imperative to engage a third party in the selection process.

According to such dissident faculty members, the varsity issued letters to more than 1,700 candidates who appeared in the aptitude tests under the supervision of the heads of various departments on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

They asked that how the chairpersons could conduct the test, check results themselves and make appointments in grade 18. “It is unfair and against the Higher Education Commission rules,” a senior teacher remarked.

Some of the faculty members also claimed that test papers had been leaked to the blue-eyed persons so that they could pass the tests. However, they did not provide any evidence in this regard to The News.

Suspicious timing

One of the teachers of the Abdul Haq campus of Fuuast, requesting anonymity, said the acting administration wanted to hire blue-eyed candidates before the announcement of a permanent vice chancellor (VC), which was expected in a few weeks.

The search committee for the permanent VC of the varsity has already completed its work and shortlisted five names, which were submitted to the Fuuast senate, which is the highest decision-making body of the varsity, two weeks ago.

The teacher of the Abdul Haq campus said the Fuuast chancellor, who is President Arif Alvi, would announce the name of the final candidate within a few weeks. “Therefore, the acting management wanted to appoint blue-eyed people before permanent management assumed the charge of the varsity,” he remarked.

Past example

Another teacher, who is also an applicant for the selection under the 2017 advertisement, recalled that a test related to the 2013 selection board was conducted in a similar fashion in 2015, which was taken by about 1,500 candidates.

However, he added, the 2015 test became controversial due to a large number of leaked exam papers, following which, some candidates approached the Federal Ombudsman and the National Accountability Bureau against the varsity, which decided to hold a new aptitude test.

The teacher said that no approval had been sought from the university's finance committee for the appointment of hundreds of lecturers. The hiring of hundreds of lecturers would adversely affect the financial structure of the university and its annual expenses, he added.

Fuuast’s stance

Meanwhile, the Fuuast spokesperson said it seemed that people with a particular agenda were deliberately sharing false and misleading information to the media because they did not want to see any positive development in the institution. It was clear that such people were not promoting education and they were extremely unhappy about the appointment of competent teachers, the spokesperson added.

He termed the allegations against the current administration baseless and said the present administration of the varsity was well aware of its legal limitations. The acting management was working within its jurisdiction and a number of successes had been achieved by it because all policies and decisions had been made under the University Act, syndicate and senate, the spokesperson claimed.

According to the spokesperson, a group of teachers were deliberately hiding facts from the media and the fact was that the current acting VC had been given the responsibility by the institution's senate and chancellor to hold the long-awaited 2013 and 2017 selection boards. Those accusing the management of the varsity wanted to create unrest and instability in the institution, the spokesperson said.

Explaining the process of promotions and recruitment, the spokesperson said that only those who had applied in 2013 and 2017 were eligible for recruitment and promotions in the institution. He added that they had been waiting for recruitment and promotions for last many years and no one could be deprived of his or her legitimate right.

No person holding any position would be allowed to influence the selection board, the spokesperson said, adding that the entire selection process would be transparent.