ISLAMABAD: There are around 14 public sector universities in the federal capital that consume a major chunk of the budget allocated for the public sector universities. However, only one of them – Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) – has been observing the quotas of the federal government, when it comes to admissions and appointments.
This was noted in a meeting of the vice chancellors (VCs) of universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The participants of the meeting further alleged that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) was biased in allocating the funds to public sector universities and degree awarding institutions of certain provinces.
They went on to request representation of all federating units in the HEC’s governing body, known as ‘the commission’.
They accuse federal universities of not observing quota system, while there are no incentives for teachers working in dangerous regions
The meeting was held at Peshawar and was presided over by vice-chancellor Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) Dr Nasir Jamal.
The minutes of the meeting, circulated on Tuesday, revealed that the VCs believe that although 14 public sector degree awarding institutions of the federal capital have been getting government funds for being federal universities, none of them, apart from QAU, have been observing quota of provinces while appointing staff and faculty members or giving admissions to students.
The VCs further noted that the HEC was a federal agency, thus it is imperative that the quotas for provinces and regions were followed for appointments in all grades.
HEC’s governing body, must, according to the law, have a proportionate representation of all federating units.
Since nine members of the body have to be directly appointed by the prime minister, this principle must be upheld strictly.
The meeting urged that since the federal and provincial governments enhance the salaries of their employees in the BPS system, along with upgrading their posts, similar policies must also be adopted by the universities. Most of the employees of these institutions are from the BPS cadre and are hence entitled to salary increments and additional funds.
New universities in remote areas face difficulty in acquiring or retaining good faculty. It is important, the VCs decided, that HEC should provide additional funds to these universities to maintain their quality and standards at par with those located in large urban centres.
The minutes reveal that while Pakistan has suffered tremendously from the strife and terrorism over the last 10 years, the major brunt has been borne by KP. From killed or kidnapped VCs, to explosions on campus, apart from the constant fear of threats, the security alone is eating into the already paltry funds that most KP universities are working with.
Participants strongly urged the HEC to provide additional grants to universities and put them back on an even keel. VC KUST Dr Nasir Jamal told Dawn that there are a number of public sector universities in Islamabad which are getting funds as federal universities, but they are not implementing quotas for appointments and admissions.
“Allama Iqbal Open University, Air University, Bahria University, International Islamic University, National Defence University, National University of Modern Languages, National University of Sciences and Technology, and others should not get funds if they are not following policies of the federal government,” he said.
While replying to a question, Dr Jamal said because of the security threats faculty members do not wish to work in universities of KP, since they are getting salaries similar to that of the university teachers in Islamabad.
“Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Sheringal is located near the Afghan border. Similarly, Malakand and Swat universities are also facing severe security problems. In fact, the Taliban occupied the Malakand University campus a few years ago. There is a tribal region on three sides of KUST.
The former KUST VC, Lutfullah Kakakhel, was kidnapped by Taliban and remained in their custody for nine months,” he said. “Dr Farooq, VC of Swat University, was killed by the Taliban while VC of Islamia College Peshawar, Ajmal Khan, is in the custody of Taliban since four years. However, there is still no incentive for the teachers working in this treacherous environment,” he added.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2014