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Fata University without vice chancellor for over a month

Updated February 18, 2019

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The under-construction main gate of the university. — Dawn
The under-construction main gate of the university. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: The only public sector university in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which still retains the word ‘Fata”, is without a vice chancellor for more than a month that is resulting in financial and administrative woes of the institution.

The Fata University Regulation under which the university was established in 2012 was no more applicable as after the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata University is now functioning under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act 2012.

Thus, the varsity going under a legal and administrative transition is left without a vice chancellor for almost a month or so leading to administrative delays like disbursement of salaries to the staff and clearance of bills of contractors engaged for construction work.

Varsity faces financial and administrative woes

The varsity had been functioning in the building of Government Degree College at Akhorwal area of Darra Adamkhel sub-division of Kohat under a regulation that gave five-year tenure to a vice chancellor, but the incumbent was bound to apply for extension after three years in the office. As such, the first VC who completed his three years tenure was expecting an extension.

Sources said that the administrative and financial matters had come to a standstill in the newly-established university as the provincial government had yet to decide whether to give extension to the outgoing vice chancellor or appoint any other suitable academician.

Officials said that salaries of the teaching and administrative staff of the university had not been released with the completion of the three-year tenure of vice chancellor, who is also the drawing and disbursement officer (DDO).

Vice chancellor Prof Dr Tahir Shah, who was appointed in 2016, has completed his three-year tenure on January 16, 2019. The sources said that a summary seeking extension for Dr Tahir Shah for another two years was moved to the competent authorities in November last, but the issue continued to linger on without any progress.

“The summary has been shuttling among various departments for the last three months,” said an official. They said that additional chief secretary for the defunct Civil Secretariat Fata sent the summary to the higher education department and sought two years extension for him (Dr Tahir Shah).

A member of the faculty confided to Dawn that salary of the entire staff had not been disbursed for the month of January while tuition fee and living allowance of the scholars sent abroad for PhDs could not be disbursed. The university has sent its five faculty members to Norway, Australia and Netherlands for PhD.

A concerned official acknowledged that the university was currently without vice chancellor that had badly affected academic and financial matters. He said that now the chief minister would decide whether to give two years extension to Dr Tahir Shah or appoint a new VC. He said that the chief secretary had forwarded the summary to the chief minister a few days ago, adding that the chief minister may act on the summary next week.

The university has seven departments, including Political Science, Sociology, Management Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics, English and Geology, and a total 452 students have been enrolled there. The estimated cost of the project is Rs4.7 billion and construction of the new building is in progress. The secretariat for the seven merged tribal districts had acquired 266-kanal land at Akhorwal.

Officials said that payment of bills of contractors had been withheld and the university management did not have funds to pay for utility bills and other expenses like transportation charges. The students are shuttled in busses between Peshawar and Akhorwal on daily basis.

The university has provided boarding facilities to its students in a rented building in Peshawar. The officials said that transport service for the students might be suspended if funds were not released.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019