SWAT: The troubled University of Swat, which has been operating without a permanent vice chancellor and registrar since 2015, has been plagued by multiple issues and irregularities for years, a government inquiry has found.
Established in 2010 and with over 3,000 male and female students enrolled in different departments, the university is currently operating in five rented buildings.
In December 2014, Awami National Party’s Member of Provincial Assembly Syed Jafar Shah had brought up the issue of irregularities in appointments at the University of Swat (UoS) in the provincial parliament and demanded that a committee probe the corruption.
Subsequently, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Higher Education Department (K-P HED) constituted two-member inquiry committee, including K-P HED Additional Secretary Dr Khalid Khan and Section Officer Asad Jan, to probe the issue and submit a report.
The two-man committee, with mandate from the K-P Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education, started investigating irregularities in the appointment of the varsity registrar, controller, treasurer, planning and development director and works director, said the “Enquiry into irregularities in University of Swat” report — which The Express Tribune obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2013.
The committee also probed irregularities in appointment of administrative and faculty members, the inefficiency of the vice chancellor in framing statutes, creating statutory bodies and to see if there were any financial irregularities.
In the six visits the committee paid to the varsity between March and May 2015, they found that the appointment of UoS register, controller of examination, treasurer, P&D and Works directors were appointed in violation of University of Peshawar rules 2010 — which was being followed by UoS.
Further, the committee found that vice chancellor at the time was unable to constitute statutory bodies of the varsity, which was tantamount to inefficiency. Moreover, they found that the vice chancellor seemed incapable of running the affairs of the varsity.
The inquiry committee recommended that a high-powered committee should be formed comprising financial and audit experts to conduct an in-depth inquiry into financial irregularities. It also suggested that the HED should remove the vice chancellor for showing defiance.
Moreover, the committee recommended that the registrar should be removed since he did not fulfil the criteria for the post and been inefficient in performing his duties. It suggested that the experience certificates of the registrar and the eligibility criteria should be published as the post is advertised afresh.
On the appointment of the controller of examination, treasurer, director P&D, director works and others employees, the report said that they should be appointed as per the procedure and eligibility laid down in the UoS regulations.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking education official who did wish to be named told The Express Tribune that internal rifts among the key administration officers and improper management had wedged all developmental works in the varsity.
He added that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had also asked the varsity to refund Rs127.485 million which had been granted to the varsity for completing development works but had not been utilised owing to the slow pace of the projects.
With the varsity working without a permanent vice chancellor since 2015, the official said that the K-P Higher Education Department had advertised the post in December 2016. But due to political interference, the government has yet to fill the post.
UoS Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Hassan Sher confirmed to The Express Tribune that an inquiry regarding irregularities at the varsity had been conducted by the HED. However, Dr Sher expressed ignorance about the inquiry’s result.
Moreover, he said that some had challenged the inquiry report in the Peshawar High Court on the grounds that the varsity is located in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas and does not fall within the jurisdiction of the provincial government.
Asked about the rent that the varsity pays for the buildings, he said that the five buildings cost them Rs1.5 million every month.
Dr Sher urged the provincial government to appointment permanent vice chancellor soon in the interests of the varsity’s future.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2017.