Punjab Governor Baligh Ur Rehman, who is also chancellor of the public sector universities of the province, while taking serious notice of the professors’ appointments through foreign referees of the ‘candidates own choice’, has announced to reform of the existing system of the appointments with too much dependence on referees’ opinion.
While addressing a ceremony at a local hotel, the governor/chancellor said that he had come to know that for the selection of the foreign referees, names were also taken from the candidates, which indicates a big conflict of interest.
Mr Rehman also referred to a meeting held at the Governor House recently and attended by Chairperson Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC), Secretary Higher Education Department (HED), Principal Secretary Governor House and others. He said the meeting discussed how the selection process can be made more transparent. “I am really saddened to see some cases. There is partiality in favor of internal candidates and this is really a time to think over it. The candidates are themselves asked who should be their (foreign) referee – this is a big conflict of interest. This shouldn’t be like this. We are trying to adopt a mechanism to make this process transparent,” the governor said.
It is noteworthy that Punjab University (PU) School of Communication Studies Associate Professor Dr Shabbir Sarwar has submitted a representation to the governor/chancellor regarding recent appointments of three professors at the school through ‘referees of their choice’.
He alleged that it is a clear case of conflict of interest. Citing an example from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan’s policy, he said that HEC does not award even a six-month foreign scholarship to a candidate in case the foreign referee is the supervisor of his/her local supervisor.