The ban on recruitment in the federal capital is taking its toll on the federal universities and the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
The government on August 2, 2013 slapped a ban on recruitment in all federal ministries, divisions and autonomous bodies.
Since then, every department has been in some sway suffering shortage of staff. The ban on hiring has a frustrating impact mainly on three universities — Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) and International Islamic University (IIUI).
The HEC has been seeking staff from several universities on deputation as well. The HEC executive director is on deputation from the University of Balochistan. Three members of operation as well as three advisers at the HEC are also working on deputation. Besides, the managing director and director general of quality assurance are also on deputation. Those working on deputation have yet to get formal approval from the 18-member HEC commission.
“It is really frustrating that you have such a large number of staff on deputation,” said HEC Chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmad. He has also written few letters and reminders to the government through Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for lifting of the ban.
The HEC Interim Placement engages fresh PhD scholars on a one-year contract before they are formally accommodated at different universities across the country. However, the ban has put the HEC and universities in an awkward position as the contracts of most of the PhD scholars have expired or are about to expire but they could not be hired.
Recently, about 40 scholars met HEC chief informing him of the situation where they could neither continue with the universities nor any hiring can be made.
At QAU, the situation is worse. According to QAU Acting Vice-Chancellor Dr Etizaz Ahmad, “Three types of new inductees are uncertain about the next step, while about 15 teachers are those whose selection has been finalised but letters could not be issued due to the ban.”
Besides, Ahmad added, there are about 12 teachers who have shifted their status from basic pay scales to Tenure-Track System but again their fate hangs in the balance due to the ban.
He said that they had started pharmacy and law departments and were in need of new faculty but nothing could be done. Ahmad said that they were just accommodating students with existing staff.
IIUI Rector Masoom Yasinzai said that the ban had crippled their university as the strength of students had increased while the hiring of faculty had stopped. “This ban should not have been implemented in the first place on educational institutes,” he maintained.
Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Balighur Rehman told The Express Tribune that he had written to the prime minister a couple of months ago to lift the ban and he would send a reminder in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.