LAHORE: The Punjab government is reconsidering formation of search committees for appointment of 30 vice chancellors in public sector universities across the province due to reservations by concerned quarters with regard to selection of members of these bodies, according to well-placed sources.

On April 30, the provincial cabinet had formed three search committees for appointment of VCs of general, new and women universities.

Former bureaucrat Ismail Qureshi will lead the committee for general category universities, with members including retired Lt-Gen Muhammad Asghar, Farkhanda Wasim Afzal and Amjad Saqib.

The universities without VCs are University of the Punjab, Government College University of Lahore, Government College University of Faisalabad, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Islamia University of Bahawalpur, University of Gujrat, University of Education in Lahore, University of Narowal, Lahore UET, Taxila UET, Khawaja Fareed University of Information Technology in Rahim Yar Khan and Information Technology University, Lahore.

Reservations about some members by ‘concerned quarters’ being seen as reason for change of heart

For the new category universities, the cabinet has appointed Zafar Iqbal Qureshi as head of the committee. Its members are Farkhanda Wasim Afzal, Ijaz Munir and Prof Nizamuddin. The universities include University of Kamalia, University of Layyah, University of Bhakkar, University of Okara, University of Jhang and Ghazi University, DGK.

The search committee for women’s universities will be headed by economist Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha with retired Capt Zahid Saeed, Dr Talat Naseer Pasha and Dr Rukhsana David as its members. They have been tasked with selecting VCs for Lahore College for Women University, Government College University for Women Sialkot, Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur, Women University Multan, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi, Government College Women University Faisalabad and University of Home Economics Lahore.

The cabinet also decided to issue a fresh advertisement for VCs’ positions and slightly modified the appointment criteria. Candidates scoring 80 points are now eligible for interview, instead of previous 75 points, and those above the age of 65 years are deemed ineligible for the post.

The Higher Education Department (HED) has yet to issue the notification for the formation of the search committees despite passing of three weeks.

HED Secretary Dr Farrukh Naveed, who is a member of all search committees, told Dawn that the committees were not notified as the department did not receive minutes of the cabinet meeting. He said the government was not changing the composition of the committees.

However, sources claim that the notification for the formation of search committees has not been issued as the government is reconsidering the formation of committees.

The sources say the academic and administrative circles are questioning the appointment of some of the members of the committees as the government had included its favourite persons in these bodies.

They say the government had de-notified the previous search committees constituted by the caretaker Punjab government led by the then chief minister Mohsin Naqvi and formed new ones. “The de-notification of the previous committees has become a bone of contention and the government has been forced to reconsider the formation of new search committees,” a source says.

The interim government could not appoint the VCs of the public sector universities as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had rejected a request made in this regard.

REACTION: Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) President Amjad Khan Magsi told Dawn that the point of concern is that the government was not giving any importance to the appointment of vice chancellors in the 30 universities of Punjab.

He said the cabinet had approved the formation of search committees three weeks ago but the process had not started yet.

He said Punjab University, the oldest institution of higher education of the country, was working without a regular head for the last two years and all the universities were going bankrupt due to poor administration.

He said the universities were facing financial crunch and academic problems were also gigantic.

Talking about composition of the search committees, Mr Magsi said the government had included bureaucrats as heads and members of the search committees constituted for appointment of vice chancellors in general universities.

“No academic was included in the committee of general universities and it would raise questions on the composition of the committees,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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