Resolving differences: University of Sindh amends hiring criteria

Published: October 1, 2016
Varsity appointed 22 assistant professors defying HEC's standards. PHOTO COURTESY: USINDH.EDU.PK

Varsity appointed 22 assistant professors defying HEC's standards. PHOTO COURTESY: USINDH.EDU.PK

HYDERABAD: With the Higher Education Commission (HEC) beginning to assert its authority, University of Sindh (SU) has caved in giving up defiance over certain policy measures. It has eventually relented to the HEC’s qualification yardstick for the appointment of BPS-19 assistant professors.

However, the apparently grudging compliance, assented to by SU’s 196th syndicate meeting on Saturday, has been made after a patent violation of the HEC’s standards by the SU.

“The meeting approved the criteria for [the] appointment to the post of assistant professor in the light of HEC’s observations,” read a press release issued after the meeting.

In defiance

Two months ago, the varsity went ahead with its selection disregarding the HEC’s eligibility criteria of possessing a master’s of science (MS) or philosophy (MPhil) degree for BPS-19 posts of assistant professors. SU recognised the conversion of MPhil to a doctor of philosophy (PhD), which is not technically a degree, as the acceptable level of qualification.

The HEC conveyed through two successive letters to the SU on July 18 and July 29 that the conversion is not equal to MPhil degree and four years’ teaching experience is required for the BPS-19 post.

“If SU appoints such scholars as assistant professors, it will be a clear violation of the HEC policy conveyed through [a] letter written on July 18, 2016,” reads a letter written by HEC quality assurance consultant Muhammad Ismail to the SU’s registrar on July 29. “… They are not considered eligible for the post of assistant professor,” read the earlier letter.

But the university, the second largest in Sindh after Karachi University, opted to defy the correspondence and conducted interviews for the posts of assistant professors, associate professors and professors starting July 30.

The university’s officials said they had announced 197 posts, which included 71 for assistant professors, in January, 2015, and that existing statute of the SU considers the conversion as an acceptable qualification. An official, requesting anonymity, informed The Express Tribune that up to 22 appointments were made against the HEC disapproved qualification. Among them, only two lecturers were made to complete the PhD degrees while the qualification of all others was converted. However, some officials put the number to be as high as 39.

Discrimination charges

Besides contravening the national standards, the move also made dozens of SU’s lecturers pursuing their PhD degrees in foreign countries on scholarship feel discriminated because they were not considered eligible to apply.

“We all cried in vain but the SU didn’t pay any heed,” complained a SU lecturer undertaking PhD studies abroad, requesting not be identified as he feared consequences as the varsity administration and Sindh University Teachers Association were in consonance over the issue. They together favoured their closed ones, he alleged.  “We [lecturers pursing PhD abroad] will consider them [assistant professors] another blot on the SU’s landscape,” commented another lecturer, who is also enrolled in a PhD programme in a foreign country.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2016.

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