KARACHI: Seven faculty members of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto University of Law (Szabul) were going about their classes like any other day when they suddenly received letters at home that terminated their jobs.
These professors in the faculties of criminology, business administration and economics, were appointed in March this year and their contracts were terminated allegedly by Szabul vice-chancellor Professor Dr Qazi Khalid Ali on June 30, without any notice. Of the seven professors, four of them are 18-grade lecturers and the rest are 19-grade PhD professors.
The university decided to close these three departments prior to the enrolment of its first batch from July 22, said criminology department’s faculty member Zeeshan Mangi, who was terminated. “There are a total of four faculty members in the law department, two of them are the VC’s brothers,” he pointed out, demanding to know why the law department was not being shut down.
For his part, the VC told The Express Tribune that the economics and business administration departments failed to receive any admissions while the criminology one received merely a few. Szabul invested a lot of money in the admissions process and spent more than Rs5 million on advertisements, education expos and conferences but it was not able to bring in students to the new institution, he explained.
The Szabul syndicate committee met several times to discuss the admissions crisis and eventually decided to launch the university with only one department. “We have terminated only the seven members of the faculty who were appointed for those [other] departments,” said Dr Ali.
According to Dr Ali, the professors’ contracts can be terminated without notice as they were all serving the initial probation. They were receiving salaries for three months without teaching and the university even paid their advanced salary for another month before they were fired, he added.
“According to the higher education commission, there is a certain student-teacher ratio that we were unable to meet,” he said. The professors could not be accommodated in another department as the university has to follow a certain protocol that involved newspaper ads and other policy issues.
The recently unemployed professors are, however, of the opinion that it is not their job to gather admissions. “We are here to teach whether there is one student or 1,000,” said Mangi.
Journey so far
A newspaper ad advertising a new university of law is what attracted these professors to Szabul. “We all applied for the job and after completing certain criteria we were appointed and asked to join immediately,” recalled economics professor Tehseen Javaid.
It was first week of March when the professors joined. “We are not even serving them as teachers or professors but also doing extra work as admissions and public relations officers for the university,” Javaid told The Express Tribune.
The administration is saying that they will make sub departments of law in the university as they have more admissions there, said criminology lecturer Muniba Gull, who was also fired on Tuesday.
The teachers have approached the University and Boards department. “They [teachers] were on probation but terminating someone like this is wrong if they have been appointed through proper protocol,” said University and Boards secretary Iqbal Durrani. A meeting has been called with the registrar and the other Szabul officials on Friday (today) to look into the matter, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.