Public sector varsities: CM’s committee mulls over appointment criteria for VCs

10-member body will look at qualifications, experience and other requirements

Ammar Sheikh June 22, 2017
Rana Sanaullah. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to review the criteria for the appointment of vice chancellors in public sector universities.

The committee formed to review and revise the criteria met on Wednesday.

According to a notification issued by the higher education department, the Punjab chief minister formed a 10-member committee to review the qualifications, experience and other relevant requirements for the post of vice chancellors off public sector universities. The committee had been tasked to review the criteria and submit its finding to the CM within 7 days.

The members of the committee include Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanauallah, Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani, Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Advisor to CM and Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairperson Dr Umar Saif, Secretary Law and PA Department, Higher Education Department (HED) Secretary, Finance Department Secretary, Secretary (Regulations) S&GAD, Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) Chairperson Dr Nizamuddin and Dr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi.

The committee held its first meeting which was chaired by Rana Sanaullah.

According to an official privy to the matter, the committee had been tasked with creating terms of reference (TORs) for the appointment of the vice chancellors at public sector universities. It also reviewed the minimum requirements for the appointments.

Appointing vice chancellors in public universities has become a controversial affair for the provincial government as the process had been challenged. The Lahore High Court (LHC), on April 27, gave a go-ahead to the provincial government to appoint VCs. However, the Punjab government’s appointees and nominees for various universities had been called into question as the court and the PHEC and HED had been approached, claiming they did not fulfil the minimum criteria.

According to the order issued by the Lahore High Court on April 27, HEC had the power to set minimum standards in institutions of higher education. Simultaneously, the ruling said that the province was empowered to develop standards that could be higher and more stringent compared to the federal level. However, it could not be below the federal standard.

The division bench of the LHC added the provincial legislature had the power to set standards, including procedures and criteria, for the selection of the VC as long as they were not below minimum standards set by the federation.

The court directed that the Punjab government to proceed with the appointment of the VCs of four public-sector universities – Lahore College for Women University (LCWU), University of Sargodha (UoS), University of Punjab and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering & Technology (MNSUET) – strictly on the basis of the recommendations of the VC search committee. The judgement stated all future appointments at state-run varsities in Punjab would be made according to the law settled in this latest order.

The Punjab government, however, had been unable to make appointments at two of the four universities mentioned in the LHC judgment. Moreover, as many as 11 other universities are working without full-time vice chancellors in the province.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2017.


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