Pick and choose: Disregard of rules hurting NUML faculty, education standards

Retired military officers appointed at key academic posts

Riazul Haq July 14, 2015
Retired military officers appointed at key academic posts.

ISLAMABAD: The National University of Modern Languages (Numl) is operating in violation of rules. Moreover, a number of retired military officers have been appointed on important administrative and academic positions with little regard for merit and qualifications.

Similarly, teachers and other staff have been appointed in violation of merit. Many departments have heads without PhD degree, despite the availability of doctorate degree holders.

For instance, Saima Shafeeq is an assistant professor who is head of the economics department, even though two PhDs are working in the same department.

One of the teachers, requesting not to be named, said that senior teachers with PhD degrees had to report to the head of department for thesis’s supervision, approval and other affairs.

A teacher from the Department of Economics commented that the situation had disheartened qualified faculty members.

“These ‘favourites’ get the nod for new contracts, while internal promotions have yet to take root in the university,” the teacher said.

Meanwhile, most universities appoint academics directors and registrars from the teaching faculty. Numl, on the other hand, recently appointed Brigadier (retd) Aminullah Khan as its registrar and Col (retd) Javed as its academics director.

Similarly, four retired army officers are presently heads of departments. Brig (retd) Wasiq Ahmed is serving as the head of the Pakistan Studies Department, despite the fact that he does not hold a doctorate and there are two PhDs available within the department.

The frustration and unrest in teachers is not a new phenomenon.

Last week, the head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Department, Dr Qureshi, was removed because of a rift with Captain (retd) Ashfaq, who holds an MPhil degree and is a contractual employee.

A few years ago, the HEC also wrote to the university to build its own faculty instead of ‘pick and choose’ policy, but the teachers said nobody in the administration pays heed to ‘external’ orders.

Other departments, being run by non-PhDs include English, Urdu, French, and social sciences departments and the Faculty of Occidental Languages.

Top-down problem

HEC rules state that the rector or vice-chancellor should have 15 years of academic experiences.

“The head should preferably have earned a doctorate degree in an academic discipline. He should have attained a distinguished leadership preferably in education and academic administration and management with proven track record of extensive experience and skills in initiating and managing change, strategic planning and overseeing the implementation of plans through outcomes,” the HEC rules read.

Maj-Gen (retd) Ziauddin Najam has joined as the new rector of the university succeeding Maj-Gen (retd) Masood Hassan, who served for around four years.

Since 2011, the university has also been awaiting amendments to its ordinance.

The prime amendment concerns allowing the appointment of the chief of army staff as the head of its board of governors. It was passed by the National Assembly but is pending in the Senate.

The university spokesperson Bilal Khan told The Express Tribune that the appointment of non-PhDs as heads of department was not an issue as it was an administrative post.

He added they had all the heads of departments, while those who had recently retired would be replaced right after the start of the new semester.

Khan was hesitant to comment on the appointment of former military officials against important administrative and academic posts.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.

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