ISLAMABAD: As the higher education sector of the country struggles to stay afloat amid a shortage of funds and qualified staff, at least 51 out of 154 universities across Pakistan are performing day-to-day functions without regular vice-chancellors, raising question marks on the efficiency of provincial governments as well as other authorities.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed told Dawn that the appointment of VCs in the universities, whose charters were approved by the provinces, was the responsibility of the provinces. He said the issue had been taken up with the provinces and “progress was being made” for the appointment of the varsity heads.

“As per my knowledge, the appointment process of VCs’ appointment in several universities is in the advanced stages,” he said and added that now new governments were going to be formed in the provinces and at the centre soon and the HEC would also nudge these upcoming administrations about this important issue.

HEC chairman says appointment process in advanced stages, blames provinces

“I do agree, the appointment of a regular VC is imperative for good governance,” he said in response to a question. He, however, clarified that the 51 universities “are being run under interim arrangements”. “There is a need for regular appointments,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa) showed concerns over the absence of regular VCs in at least 19 universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The president and general secretary…along with its esteemed members, express deep concerns over the prolonged delay in the appointment of VCs for 19 universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Despite the completion of the selection process, the crucial positions remain vacant, significantly impacting the operations and progress of these esteemed institutions,” read the statement.

The absence of VCs has led to a stagnation of vital administrative and academic matters within the universities, hampering their ability to fulfil their academic missions effectively, it said. “This delay is not only detrimental to the universities’ functioning but also undermines the overall educational landscape in the region.”

“Fapuasa KP chapter has been tirelessly demanding for the appointment of vice-chancellors, recognising the urgency and importance of filling these positions without further delay. We stand in full support of their efforts and reiterate the pressing need for the government to take immediate action in this regard. We urge the authorities to expedite the appointment process and fulfil their responsibility in ensuring the smooth functioning of these universities. Delaying these appointments only exacerbates the challenges faced by the academic community and impedes the progress of higher education in the region,” the press release added.

“We call upon the government to prioritise the appointment of vice-chancellors in KP universities as a matter of utmost urgency,” it concluded.

On Jan 1, the issue of delay in the appointment of VCs in public sector universities was discussed by the Senate Functional Committee on Devolution headed by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed. The said committee was told that administrative procedures for appointments of VCs for federally charted universities involved a search committee appointed by the president of Pakistan while provincially chartered Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) fell under the governance of their respective provinces’ higher education departments.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...
Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...