Audit finds irregularities in appointments, affiliations in public-sector universities

Updated December 31, 2018

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Numl grants affiliation to college offering medical education despite not being a medical university, report says. ─ File photo by Kashif Abbasi
Numl grants affiliation to college offering medical education despite not being a medical university, report says. ─ File photo by Kashif Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: The National University of Modern Languages (Numl), which is not a medical university, has granted affiliation to a college that offers medical education, the auditor general of Pakistan pointed out in a report detailing irregularities in public-sector universities.

The 2017-18 audit report released a few days ago stated that Numl granted affiliation to the Armed Forces Post Graduate Medical Institute (AFPGMI) in Rawalpindi in 2006.

“The affiliated institute was providing medical education whereas no such education was being imparted by Numl,” the report said, adding that the audit was not provided the constitution of affiliation committee as per the guidelines of the Higher Education Commission (HEC).

The report said the HEC had clarified that the university will consider applications for affiliation from institutions offering programmes similar to those offered by the university. The report said the affiliation of a medical institute with a non-medical university was “un-justified and irregular”.

The report quoted a response from Numl, in which the university’s management said that affiliation with the AFPGMI was granted on Jan 5, 2006, for a certificate in medical administration and not for any degree programme. Numl also immediately took action and advised the AFPGMI to seek affiliation for a diploma in medical administration where this course is being offered, on receipt of an HEC letter dated Nov 17, 2016.

In its meeting on Nov 9, 2017, the departmental audit committee (DAC) directed the management to get the records regarding HEC’s affiliation criteria verified by the audit, the report said.

“Audit recommends that the decision of the DAC may be implemented and responsibility may be fixed for granting affiliation in contravention of HEC criteria.”

It also pointed out several irregular appointments the Numl management made on contractual basis, including the appointment of 32 faculty members on academic and 29 officials on administrative posts during 2015-16.

Numl grants affiliation to college offering medical education despite not being a medical university, report says

The management of the university, according to the audit report, stated that as per the university’s ordinance the rector was empowered to appoint teachers, officers and members of staff for a period not exceeding two years on a contractual basis, the report said.

Numl responded: “All these appointments were made through selection committee constituted by competent authority.”

However the audit contended that the response was not relevant, as provisions of the Numl Ordinance were not observed during the recruitment process. In its Nov 9 meeting, the DAC directed that rules regarding contractual appointment be framed and a revised reply in light of the ordinance may be furnished.

The report also pointed out the irregular appointment of the Faisalabad regional director and dean of social sciences made by Numl in 2015. The university defended both appointments as being made purely on merit and through a competitive process.

However, the audit termed these appointments irregular and called for both posts to be re-advertised and for responsibility for these appointments to be fixed.

Allama Iqbal Open University

The report also highlighted several audit paras of the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) that included irregular expenditure on the purchase of an excessive quantity ofspare parts amounting to Rs24 million and the short collection of admission fees due to fake bank stamps.

The report said the university’s management incurred expenditure of approximately Rs24.3 million on the purchase of spare parts for machine equipment in the print and publication unit. The audit observed that these spare parts were still in storage and were not used until June 30, 2017, resulting in a blockage of public funds.

AIOU management told the audit teams that an inquiry committee had already been constituted to look into this matter. Admission form scams were also pointed out. The audit noted that the AIOU in 2013 constituted a committee to verify admissions forms and the fees for B.Ed, postgraduate and PhD programmes related to the 2012-13 spring semesters with respect to checking fake bank stamps.

The audit pointed out that the inquiry committee’s recommendations have thus far not been implemented as no recovery was made from the concerned officials. The university told the audit teams that the case was sent to the National Accountability Bureau for inquiry and in the DAC held in September 2017, it was decided that a letter seeking an early decision in the case would be sent to NAB from the vice chancellor.

Comsats

The report said Comsats management made irregular appointments on the tenure track system (TTS), spending Rs69m, without advertising and without the approval of the selection board and board of governors or the endorsement of the HEC.

Comsats management replied that TTS appointments were made according to the eligibility criteria mentioned in the CIIT TTSstatements 2009. However, the reply was “not accepted because no documentary evidence was produced”, the report said, adding that the DAC in its meeting in September 2017 decided that posts that were not filled through the selection board should be re-advertised.

The report said Comsats made 27 irregular appointments of advisers and consultants at fixed monthly salaries and paid approximately Rs26.3m while the principal seat engaged 28 consultants and advisers and paid approximately Rs16.7m during 2015-16.

All the advisers and consultants were appointed without advertisement and competition, it said. The university replied that according to DAC recommendations the contracts of most of the advisers and consultants were terminated as of June 30, 2017, but the report said the reply was not accepted because the management did not provide a list of consultants whose contracts were terminated.

The audit report saidComsats bought a car - a Toyota Corolla Atlis that cost approximately Rs2.2m - for a federal minister. The car was allowed to the chancellor, who was also minister for science and technology. The report said the chancellor was not entitled to an official vehicle from the university as the provision of a vehicle to a federal minister was the responsibility of the Cabinet Division.

The audit rejected the university’s response and recommended that the DAC’s Nov 9, 2017, decision for retrieving the vehicle from the chancellor and placing it in the pool of Comsats vehicles.

The report also said that the Comsats management at the Islamabad campus, which was the principal seat during 2015-16, appointed 149 officers without observing merit, provincial or regional quotas, which was it was required to as a federally chartered university.

The management replied that the university was a degree awarding institute recognised by the HEC and the body corporate of the Ministry of Science and Technology. It had its own statues and rules approved by the board of governors and it followed open merit policy and laid down criteria for appointments.

The report said that the DAC in its 2017 meeting directed the university to follow instructions regarding appointments, being a federally chartered university.

Quaid-i-Azam University

Auditors pointed out that the Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) management made unauthorised investments of Rs160m without approval from the syndicate.

The report said the management invested the funds with the Dubai Islamic Bank for three tears without approval. It also said the unauthorised payment of a 20pc special allowance of Rs71m was made to QAU employees in 2015-16.

The report said the QAU management said the payment was made on the basis of a syndicate decision, but the response was not accepted because a special allowance is only admissible to employees working in ministries and divisions.

The audit report also highlighted audit paras of the International Islamic University Islamabad, such as irregular appointments of part-time teachers and visiting faculty, and paying medical allowance to employees.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018