LAHORE: The Punjab government on Tuesday constituted search committees for the appointment of vice chancellors in 30 universities of the province.

The provincial cabinet’s approval marks a departure from traditional academic appointments, as the search committees will notably include a significant number of non-PhDs and former bureaucrats. This unconventional approach aims to infuse a diverse set of skills and experience into the leadership of Punjab’s universities.

A former bureaucrat Ismail Qureshi has been appointed to lead the search committee for major general category universities. The general category search committee members include retired Lt Gen Muhammad Asghar, Farukhanda Wasim Afzal, and Amjad Saqib. Their collective expertise spans military, bureaucratic, and social sectors, promising a comprehensive evaluation of potential candidates.

The universities include University of the Punjab, Government College University Lahore, Government College University Faisalabad, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Islamia University Bahawalpur, University of Gujrat, University of Education Lahore, University of Narowal, UET Lahore, UET Taxila, Khawaja Fareed University of Information Technology Rahim Yar Khan and Information Technology University Lahore.

For the new general category universities, the cabinet has entrusted Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, an education expert, with the chairmanship of the search committee. Other members include Farkhanda Wasim Afzal, Ijaz Munir and Prof Nizam ud Din.

The universities include University of Kamalia, University of Layyah, University of Bhakkar, University of Okara, University of Jhang and Ghazi University DG Khan.

The composition of the search committees for women’s universities has sparked a dialogue on gender representation, as three out of five members are men. A prominent economist Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha has been named the head of the committee while other members include retired Captain Zahid Saeed, Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, and Dr Rukhsana David.

The universities include Lahore College for Women University, Government College University for Women Sialkot, Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur, Women University Multan, and Fatima Jinnah Women University for Rawalpindi, Government College Women University Faisalabad and University of Home Economics Lahore.

The Higher Education Department secretary is made a member of all the search committees.

The provincial cabinet has also decided to issue a new advertisement for the vice-chancellor positions, inviting a new generation of academic leaders to step forward.

The cabinet also slightly changed the appointment criteria. Previously, candidates scoring 75 points were short-listed for the interview, but now this percentage has been increased to 80 points.

The cabinet has set the age limit for applicants, declaring candidates above the age of 65 ineligible for the vice-chancellor slot.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2024

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