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LAHORE: The issue of removing teachers serving under Tenure Track System (TTS) from administrative posts could not be resolved as the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa) has challenged the Higher Education Commission (HEC) authority to issuing any direction in this regard.

In a letter to the HEC, Dr Asif Ali, Fapuasa Islamabad chapter president, said the commission chairman was not authorised to undermine the autonomy of varsities by directly issuing instructions to their executive heads.

“Under which clauses(s) of the HEC Act, the Commission has instructed the executive heads of autonomous universities (with regard to TTS). Under which lawful authority the HEC is dictating faculty members of public sector universities not to accept deputations sought by the Government of Pakistan on prestigious Pakistan chairs abroad?” he asked.

Dr Ali further asked under what lawful authority HEC could ask the executive heads of autonomous varsities to stop salaries of the faculty members who were the appointees of the respective syndicates and not of the HEC?

“In all versions of TTS statutes, a regular faculty member transferred to TTS enjoys all the facilities on a par with BPS, including leaves, deputation and administrative positions. To appoint or not to appoint TTS faculty members as administrative heads is a prerogative of university syndicate and they are appointed as per prevailing conditions in the varsity. Same is the case with reference to the assumption of additional charges/duties by the faculty members.”

The Fapuasa has further asked how the HEC could decide on its own to look at the annual, midterm or tenure review reports of any faculty member of any public university of Pakistan?

It said seemingly the HEC’s job was to submit proposals for enhancement of higher education quality.

“Since TTS statutes of all the universities were formulated by appropriate committees, comprising authorised officials of HEC and universities concerned, and after the acceptance of these draft statutes by the HEC, the same was approved and adopted by varsities syndicates and any further proposed amendment has to be routed through the laid down procedures for consideration of and recommendation by the appropriate committees to be accepted as statutes,” it says.

The varsity teachers body has asked the HEC to stay away from issuing such “instructions” and respect their autonomy.

Earlier, the HEC had written to all varsities, warning them if a faculty member assumed an administrative post such as registrar, HR director or treasurer etc, the period for which he/she remains on that post shall not be counted towards his/her TTS service and during that period he/she will not be eligible to draw TTS salary.

“After June 30, 2014, if a faculty member on TTS assumed responsibility of academic (cum) administrative position of director research, dean of a faculty or head of a department, the period of holding such appointment shall not be counted towards his/her TTS probation period and (he/she) will not be eligible to draw TTS salary,” the HEC said.

“The government is offering a lot of incentives to engage faculty members in research in their respective fields and if they involve themselves in other activities the very purpose could not be served, therefore, the varsities need to strictly follow these instructions.”

The HEC also noted that some TTS faculty members, without completing their probation period, started working on such positions. Moreover, some others assume administrative posts such as registrar, human resource director, treasurer and examination controller openly or under the cover of ‘acting’, ‘look after’ or ‘additional’ charge.

The prime purpose of introducing TTS was to promote research and impart quality education to students in varsities.

The HEC and Fapuasa had also decided to form a committee to resolve the TTS issue but that is yet to be notified.

A number of varsities have simply refused to comply with the HEC direction regarding the TTS issue as well.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2016