PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Faisal Karim Kundi on Wednesday expressed concern about the administrative, financial, and academic issues of public sector universities in the province and urged Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur to work together to resolve them.

In a letter to the chief minister, the governor called for the immediate appointment of VCs to those universities.

Mr Kundi, who is also the chancellor of government universities in the province, said that the prolonged delay in the appointment of vice-chancellors to 25 government universities had caused serious administrative, academic, and financial challenges for them, jeopardising the future of students.

Former governor Ghulam Ali had also issued such letter to the chief minister on April 17 regarding the appointment of VCs.

Governor asks govt to take corrective steps besides filling VC posts

Under Section 12(3) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities Act, 2012, the process of selection of a new vice-chancellor shall be initiated six months prior to the expiration of the existing term of the incumbent, according to Mr Kundi in the letter.

He, however, said that despite the recommendations of the academic search committee, the process for approving recommended candidates had not been initiated, exacerbating the situation.

“Failure to act promptly may jeopardise the future of higher education in the province and may also lead to the displeasure of the Peshawar High Court due to the established violation of law. Your (chief minister’s) sincere cooperation in resolving this issue is essential for securing the future of our province’s youth,” he said.

The issue of long delays in the appointment of VCs to universities was recently taken up by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

During the May 15 hearing into the case, the bench observed that it expected that the vacant positions in universities would be filled “as soon as practicable.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa additional advocate general Shah Faisal Ilyas informed the bench that the search committee had selected eligible candidates for the appointment as VCs, but they had yet to be appointed.

Officials told Dawn that the universities functioning in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without regular VCs for the last one year included Abbottabad University of Science and Technology, Gomal University Dera Ismail Khan, Khushhal Khan Khattak University Karak, University of Agriculture Dera Ismail Khan, University of Lakki Marwat, Hazara University Mansehra, University of Engineering and Technology Mardan, and Women University Swabi.

Also, seven other universities in the province have been awaiting the filling of the top position for four months. They include Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Bacha Khan University Charsadda, Shuhada-i-APS University of Technology Nowshera, Kohat University of Science and Technology, University of Peshawar, University of Science and Technology Bannu, and University of Engineering Peshawar.

Officials said five universities, including Fata University Dara Adamkhel, Islamia College University Peshawar, the University of Buner, and the University of Chitral, had been functioning without regular VCs for the last two months.

The newly-established University of Agriculture Swat, University of Engineering and Applied Sciences Swat, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Swat, and University of Shangla also don’t have regular VCs, according to them.

Sources in the higher education department claimed that the process for appointing regular VCs to public sector universities in the province was completed four months ago, but the provincial government was reluctant to notify the names of VCs “without any justification.”

The vacancies were advertised during the last Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, with Mahmood Khan being the chief minister, according to them.

The sources said the academic search committee for the appointment of vice-chancellors conducted interviews for VC posts from January 22 to January 26.

They, however, said the provincial government insisted the process of appointing VCs had been completed during the time of the caretaker government, which had no authority to appoint VCs.

The sources said the current elected government intended to re-advertise all those positions.

Also, the chairman of the Higher Education Commission has written a letter to the secretary of the higher education department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the issue.

“The development of higher educational institutions hinges, among other things, on the quality and continuity of their leadership. Discontinuity and ad hoc arrangements, on the other hand, cause inconsistencies in work, gaps in policy implementation, and financial indiscipline, resulting in inefficiency, poor governance, and weak institutional performance,” he said in the letter.

The HEC chairman pushed the higher education secretary for the early filling of top vacancies in universities.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024

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