The Punjab government has made progress in the appointment process of vice chancellors at four public sector universities of the province following Supreme Court chief justice’s displeasure over universities being run without regular vice chancellors.

The Punjab government, through the Punjab Higher Education Department (HED), has completed the process of approval of search committee members for four universities vetted by the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Business. The committee has yet to give a go-ahead to two other universities, for which names of search committee members have been recommended by the HED.

For Women University Multan, HED Secretary Barrister Nabeel Awan is secretary and Nighat Yawar Ali has been appointed the convener. While members include National College of Arts (NCA) former principal Sajida Haider Vandal, Salima Hashmi and Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Accreditation Committee Chairman Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi.

The search committee for the University of Home Economics has HED Secretary Barrister Nabeel Awan as secretary, former principal Kinnaird College Prof Dr Mira Phailbus as convener. Sajida Haider Vandal, Lahore Grammar School Director Nighat Yawar Ali and Care Foundation’s Seema Aziz are its members.

The University of Jhang has Nabeel Awan as secretary and Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi as convener. PHEC Chairperson Prof Dr Nizamuddin, Dr Mira Phailbus and Seema Aziz are the search committee members.

For the University of Sahiwal, Nabeel Awan has been made the committee secretary, with Information Technology University (ITU) Vice Chancellor and Adviser to Chief Minister and Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr Umar Saif being the convener. Nighat Yawar Ali, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) former vice chancellor general (r) Muhammad Akram and Government College University(GCU) Lahore Department of Political Science Chairperson Prof Dr Khalid Manzoor Butt are the members.

A search committee is a 5-member body that vets the candidates and recommends three suitable names for the position of a vice chancellor for a given university. Along with changing the criteria for vice chancellors, the Punjab government also tweaked the criteria and powers of the search committee.

The criteria includes the responsibility of examining the authenticity of publications of vice chancellor’s candidates and the committee can appoint a Technical Review Committee from the PHEC for further probing. The members now also have the authority to nominate a candidate, unlike the previous practice of sending three names to the chief minister for interview and appointment.

The posts could be advertised at any time, inviting candidates to apply for the position of vice chancellor at the four public universities in Punjab.

The news may set-off teachers, who are agitated by the new requirements for vice chancellor’s position recently made by the Punjab government. Particularly the move to abolish the requirement that a candidate must have a PhD, lowering the number of required publications as well including additional points for candidates who have managerial experience and also for those who have experience managing large-scale financial projects. Protesting academics see it as a means by the Punjab government to appoint bureaucrats as vice chancellors in government universities.

 

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