Despite a complete overhaul in the appointment criteria and process, the positions of PHEC chairperson and vice chancellors at 12 public universities continue to lie vacant, and the process of appointing suitable persons to these highly crucial academic positions in Punjab has not gathered satisfactory pace.
With a few weeks already passed since the deadline for applying for vacant VC positions as well as that of PHEC chairman expired on March 8, the process has not moved further much, with little or no headway being reported by our sources. Resultantly, some of the most important administrative posts in the higher education sector of the province continue to be run on an ad-hoc basis.
Advertisements for the positions of PHEC chairperson and vice chancellors were run in national and international media with much fanfare. Furthermore, the post of PHEC chairperson was even re-advertised, and given a new deadline after some minor changes in the criteria.
Sources in the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) said a large number of candidates had applied for the vacant posts, with as many as 100 candidates applying for the post of PHEC chairperson alone. Besides, authorities had received applications from more than 400 candidates for the 12 vacant posts of vice chancellors at Punjab’s public universities.
Per sources, the reason for delay in the appointment of PHEC chairperson was that the search committee chairman, Dr Atta ur Rahman, was out of the country and the process could not move ahead in his absence.
However, the source said some headway had been made in cases of VCs’ positions at women’s universities, as the department had received fewer applications and they had been processed first. The source added that process of shortlisting candidates for VC posts at women’s universities had entered the final stage, and the interviews would be conducted in a few days.
Academicians who have applied for PHEC chairman’s slot include Government College University (GCU) Lahore Vice Chancellor Dr Syed Hasan Amir Shah, University of Education Lahore Vice Chancellor Dr Rauf e Azam, University of Veterinary and Animal Science Lahore (UVAS) Vice Chancellor Dr Talat Naseer Pasha, Pakistan Science Foundation Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf and professor at Punjab University Institute of Education and Research Dr Abdul Qayyum Chaudhry.
Dr Hasan Amir Shah and Dr Muhammad Ashraf are potentially the leading candidates for the post of PHEC chairperson because of their strong academic and administrative careers.
Other candidates for the posts of vice chancellors include Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Punjab Chapter former president and head of Physics Department at Bahauddin Zakriya University (BZU) Multan Dr Javed Ahmed. Dr Ahmed is a candidate for the VC’s seat at BZU, University of Narowal, Islamia University Bahawalpur and Government College University Faisalabad.
Incumbent VC of the University of Education Lahore, Dr Rauf e Azam, in in the race for the VC’s seat at University of Gujarat, Government College University (GCU) Faisalabad and BZU Multan. Former professor of department of Physics at Punjab University, Dr Haris Rashid, is in contention for the position of VC at University of Narowal.
Founding Vice chancellor of the Women University Sialkot Dr Farhat Saleemi is again applying for the VC’s slot at the Women University Sialkot and the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU). Sources claimed that Dr Saleemi is a potential candidate for the VC’s slot at LCWU.
Incumbent vice chancellor at Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur, Dr Talat Afza, is in the race for the post of vice chancellor at Women University Multan and is being considered a rather strong contender for the position.