Controversial practices have reportedly emerged in recent appointments and permanent staff selections within the University of Chitral (UOCH). Reports indicate that instances of impropriety and violations of university regulations have arisen in the hiring of both newly recruited and permanent faculty members.
However, University of Chitral’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Zahir Shah, vehemently refutes these allegations. He contends that individuals who were not selected during the appointment process are propagating these claims on social media.
In February 2022, the University of Chitral assigned a contract-based teacher to the roles of deputy registrar and subsequently, additional registrar. The university currently lacks a permanent registrar, resulting in the continuation of the aforementioned teacher’s tenure in the registrar’s position.
In accordance with pertinent legislation, contract teachers do not hold official employee status within the university. As outlined in the University Rules, administrative roles cannot be assigned as supplementary responsibilities to contract-based employees. The University Act of 2012 designates the Registrar as the ex-officio secretary for the University Syndicate, Senate, Academic Council, and University Selection Board.
Nonetheless, Prof Dr Zahir Shah asserts that the need to appoint an additional registrar arose due to the absence of a permanent assistant professor within the university. Upon assuming his role as Vice-Chancellor, Dr Shah noted that only six lecturers were on the university’s permanent staff roster.
Accusations have arisen concerning the Registrar’s alleged promotion of permanent appointments in direct violation of the University Act, purportedly benefiting both himself and favored candidates of the Vice-Chancellor. These appointments were reportedly undertaken with the collaboration of the VC.
Sources allege that internal examinations were conducted for permanent teaching appointments, contravening established protocols that mandate external testing agencies for such evaluations.
Dr Shah counters these claims by asserting that Senate and Syndicate approval was secured for the internal tests, given the university’s ongoing reliance on model statutes due to the absence of comprehensive university-specific regulations.
Former members of the provincial legislative assembly, Abdul Rehman Qureshi and Molana Hidayat Ur Rehman, have submitted complaints regarding these alleged irregularities to the Provincial Ombudsman’s Office. Dr Shah suggests that these complaints stem from personal grievances related to appointments.
The University of Chitral’s Muslim League-N chapter has officially issued a statement highlighting the reported irregularities, calling for higher authorities to address the matter.
Additional scrutiny is placed on the acting registrar, who is said to have played multiple roles in the appointment process, including advertisement, candidacy, and examination administration.
Dr Zahir Shah rebuts these claims, stating that the registrar did not partake in tests or interviews relevant to his own appointment process.
A university employee familiar with the recruitment process suggests that candidates from various academic departments played pivotal roles in appointments. Allegations point to candidates selecting panelists to sway decisions in their favor, thus securing permanent positions.
In response, Dr Shah contends that department chairs do not exclusively appoint examination panelists; instead, they submit a list of potential panelists, unaware of the eventual selection.
Sources suggest that amendments were illicitly made to the university’s regulations by the VC and Registrar, who were part of the Anomaly Committee. This purportedly served to legitimize the ‘illegal advertisement’ for appointments, running counter to the spirit of the KP Universities Act.
Some claim that certain departments favored candidates who exceeded the prescribed age limits for teaching positions set by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The VC and Acting Registrar are alleged to have advertised an upper age limit of 55 years, violating HEC regulations.
Dr Shah justifies the age limit by asserting that it was established with proper authorization and that all appointments adhered to the specified age restrictions.
Dr Zahir Shah, VC Chitral University, laments the negative campaign on social media against both himself and the university. He expresses his disappointment in the campaign’s impact on the university’s image, stating his aspiration to elevate Chitral University to a place of higher learning.