The Punjab government is to amend the rules for the appointment of vice chancellors of public universities to remove age limits for candidates, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The Health Department, the Livestock and Dairy Development Department and the Higher Education Department are working on the amendment and have written their initial drafts, officials in all three departments told The Tribune. They were instructed to do so by the chief minister, the Health Department official said.
The Lahore High Court recently removed Prof Malik Hussain Mubashar as the vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences because he was past the age of retirement. During a subsequent appeal, the Supreme Court was told that 34 of the 72 public universities in the country were headed by vice chancellors past the age of retirement.
“The amendment is necessary as a serving VC of a public sector university was removed from his post for being above 60,” said a Higher Education Department official. “Many VCs across Punjab have been reappointed after the completion of their first tenures and are over the age of 60. Their appointments can be challenged.”
He said that the government believed that some of the vice chancellors above the age of 60 had proved to be excellent managers so it had decided to remove the age barrier. “The vice chancellor of Cambridge University is over 60 and he heads one of the top universities in the world very well. The VC of another top university in the UK is 82. If a professor is fit to serve he should be allowed to serve as VC and that’s what the new amendment is all about,” he said.
The Health Department official said that a general amendment would be moved which would be applicable to the acts of all public universities working under the Health, Higher Education and Livestock and Dairy Development Departments.
“The important thing in the amendment is that criteria for the appointment of VCs will be changed. Any competent professor will be eligible for appointment as vice chancellor after the amendment,” he said.
Another official in the Higher Education Department said that the draft of the general amendment would be sent first to the Law Department, which would then forward it to the cabinet.
It would then be presented in the Punjab Assembly. He said that the amendment would be passed in the first half of April.
Law Secretary Abul Hasan Najmi said he couldn’t comment on the amendments as he hadn’t received any draft from the three departments yet.
However, he said that they would meet on Wednesday to discuss it. “After the meeting the draft will be sent to the chief minister,” he said.
The Health Department official said that no decision had been made to bring back Dr Mubashar as vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.