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LAHORE: The financial and administrative crisis has reached an alarming level at the University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore, due to a dysfunctional Board of Governors (BoG) in the absence of its chairman.

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar who was re-elected chairman of the BoG in December 2015 for a term of three years had been declared absconder in corruption cases.

Under the UHS Act, all the administrative and financial decisions required approval from the BoG being a mandatory body of the varsity, an official told Dawn. He said no meeting of the BoG was called in the last couple of years owing to absence of the BoG chairman and even the present management of the health department seemed least bothered about it.

The UHS is also functioning without some other top officials including Pro VC, the controller of examination, the treasurer and the director admin, making the situation worse.

Under the UHS Act, the BoG is bound to convene meetings twice a year to grant approvals to the decisions of the two top statutory bodies -- syndicate and academic council.

As the Board is not functioning in the absence of its chairman, the administration of one of the leading universities of Punjab having 50,000 students of colleges, nurses and paramedics has been restricted to carry out day-to-day affairs only. The official said the management had no option other than wait for the dissolution of the present body of the BoG or seek any other alternative remedy by the health authorities.

He said the management of the UHS had recommended summaries pertaining to the financial and administrative matters to the Chancellor (the Punjab governor) for approval requesting him to use his special powers in the absence of the BoG chairman.

“Since the main body of the UHS (BoG) is not functioning, the administration has taken some decisions related to the financial matters without seeking approval from the Board. Consequently, it may face audit observations in numerous cases,” the official said.

He further said the MDCAT exams for more than 80,000 candidates which are scheduled to be held after one week may also suffer setback due to pending matters.

The UHS remained without the regular VC for more than 18 months after the retirement of retired Gen Prof Mohammad Aslam. However, on the intervention of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the UHS got regular vice chancellor through a search committee three weeks ago.

After assuming charge, Prof Javed Akram convened and chaired urgent meetings of the academic council and the syndicate to resolve pending issues but again the minutes of these statutory bodies required approval of the BoG.

Health Secretary Saqib Zafar said a meeting would be held to discuss various options to steer the UHS out of crisis.

“We are also going to engage the law department officers to seek their view and explore all possible options,” he said while hinting at the possibility of dissolution of BoG. He said the term of the BoG is going to expire in December this year.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018