Days after Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar hinted at changing the administrative hierarchy in public universities across the province, the provincial government has decided to bring in necessary changes to the law to abolish the post of pro-chancellor.
The post of pro-chancellor was created in the Universities Charter of 2012, which is in place in nine public universities across the province. These include institutions whose status was either upgraded to that of a university or others that were created anew from 2012 onward.
Home Economics University Lahore, Women University Bahawalpur, Women University Multan, University of Okara, University of Sahiwal, University of Jhang, Government College for Women University Faisalabad, Government College for Women University Sialkot and Ghazi University Dera Ghazi Khan operate under the 2012 charter.
In his tweet on October 29, the Punjab governor had said he was not happy with the performance of public sector universities and that “designation of “pro-chancellor” will be abolished soon!”
I am not happy with the performance of public sector universities. Vice Chancellors & senior officials have been appointed on an adhoc basis & little focus is being paid to co-curricular activities/research & development. Designation of "pro-chancellor" will be abolished soon!
— Mohammad Sarwar (@ChMSarwar) October 29, 2018
Who is a pro-chancellor?
Per the existing law, the pro-chancellor of a university is the incumbent minister for higher education of the government of Punjab and is also the chairman of the university syndicate. The syndicate, in effect, consists of the vice chancellor, the pro-vice chancellor, higher education department secretary finance secretary, law secretary, chairperson of the Punjab Higher Education Commission and members of the provincial assembly of the Punjab, deans and other nominees.
The desired objective of constituting such a varied syndicate was to have a political and bureaucratic oversight over the affairs of universities. However, the same has become a baggage rather than a blessing. With increased political influence, university vice chancellors and ministers are often seen at loggerheads with each other over various affairs, and blame has been frequent. The most prominent among these was the spat between former HED Minister Raza Ali Gilani and former Punjab University VC Dr Zafar Moeen Nasir.
Gilani had accused Nasir of unfair practices, while the latter had named the minister for political interference in university affairs.
With the pro-chancellor post now set to be abolished, the affairs of universities might see a streamlining of affairs. A number of universities operating under the 2012 charter have not held syndicate meetings for months, usually due to the unavailability of syndicate members like the minister and provincial legislators owing to their tight schedule.
Academics are hopeful that the abolishment of pro-chancellor’s slot will bring much-needed autonomy to public universities and resolve many pending issues that arose due to an unending conflict of power and jurisdiction.