ISLAMABAD: The International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) Board of Trustees on Tuesday appointed a new university president for a four-year term.

The board met at the Presidency and approved the appointment of Saudi national Dr Hathal bin Hamoud Al-Qtaibi as IIUI president. He replaced Dr Yousif Al Draiweesh, also a Saudi national, who resigned on June 15.

According to an IIUI statement, Dr Al-Qtaibi holds a PhD from the University of Madrid in Spain and completed his postdoctorate from the United States. He is a member of the Saudi Arabian Association for Educational and Psychological Sciences and the Spanish Psychologists Association, and also owns membership of International Conference for Training and Human Resource.

His experience includes deanship of institute affairs abroad at Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, where he also served as head of the Psychology Department.

The IIUI Academic Staff Association (ASA) and the All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) have expressed reservations regarding the procedure through which the university appointed its new president. They had demanded that the president be appointed through a competitive process.

However, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Dr Al-Qtaibi out of a panel of three candidates suggested by IIUI Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai.

The IIUI, which is one of the largest universities of the country with more than 30,000 students, is a public-sector university. It has faced administrative and financial issues over the last decade.

The new president, who will join the university after the completion of procedure in the next few weeks - including a notification of his appointment based on the board decision - will face several challenges.

On the administrative front, sources said he will have to appoint all three vice presidents through a competitive process as well as regular deans. Currently, six of the deans of various faculties hold acting charge of their positions. He will also have to address the issue of controversial appointments and an unauthorised chain of schools.

Last year, the rector in an official letter to the then president of the university pointed out financial and administrative challenges. Dr Yasinzai wrote that while the financial difficulties facing the university may have been partly caused by the cut to the grant in aid by the government, they were “largely because of our own policies”.

“We keep on accepting the demands of students, Officer Welfare Association and University Staff Welfare Organisation and ASA without analysing the immediate and long-term consequences,” the rector said in his letter.

He added that reducing the workload of teachers has resulted in the loss of millions to the university, while the housing subsidy is responsible for the loss of Rs400 million. The letter said nothing was tied to “actual financial matrix and grants received from the government”.

“Trying to approve from finance and planning committee the budget with a deficit of Rs1.042 billion clearly shows that there is absolutely no realisation of things and issues,” he wrote.

Dr Yasinzai had also told the university’s president that the temporary placement of irrelevant individuals at key positions would take things to a point of no return.

He had said that the formation of committees with undisclosed or pending reports without any solid decision-making created more unrest and distrust among the larger IIUI community.

The IIUI statement regarding Tuesday’s meeting said it was attended by President Dr Arif Alvi, the university’s pro-chancellor Prof Ahmad Salem Mohammad Al-Ameri, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, the chairs of the Higher Education Commission, Council of Islamic Ideology and Capital Development Authority, the finance secretary and others. Foreign members attended the meeting by video link.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2020