Amendment in Varsities Act 2020 widely opposed

By K A Mian

LAHOREThe Chief executives, teachers, educationists, policymakers and experts have strongly opposed the chairmanship of a syndicate other than sting vice-chancellors and commended to adopt the 150-year-old model of PU Act for bringing uniform amendments in Act of all varsities across Punjab revealed a survey conducted daily The Business a day earlier.

It was conducted to discern the individual opinion about the very matter of public interest. In this regard, the stakeholders, experts and policymakers were interviewed who expressed their views differently.

This reporter approached around 40 stakeholders through various medium i.e telephonically, email, WhatsApp, about the questions, were interviewed to get their opinions. In this regard, at least three questions were asked from each individual that included: Do they agree with their performance evaluation system?

Secondly; do they support the chairmanship of the syndicate other than VC? If they opposed the chairmanship of any bureaucrat, retired judge etc. then who should be head or chairman of the syndicate?

Lastly, they were asked do they want to make an effective and uniform Universities Act for all varsities or would they suggest reshaping all the syndicate structure of all the universities established after 2000 years making it similar to the Act of those established before 2000 like PU, BZU etc.

Responding to the questions, over 12 VCs of public universities told that they unanimously agreed with the current system of performance evaluation of VCs as they understood that VCs must be accountable but they didn’t know about the method of evaluation because they weren’t aware of any procedures of their performance evaluation.

They expressed that primarily the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be defined to evaluate individual performance. The VCs asked that for this purpose an impartial committee should be constituted which comprised over neutralist members and its members shouldn’t be joiner than VCs.

A majority of VCs were also asked to evaluate the VCs performance after every two years while some of them also agreed upon the performance evaluation every year.

Moreover, the VCs, experts and senior facility members of universities across Punjab expressed that once VCs performance would have been evaluated through defined parameters then the extension of VCs (his/her) in their contract period or expiry would be made on the basis of these recommendations.

Furthermore, the VCs strongly disagreed over the chairmanship of syndicate other than VCs. They stated that in the view of the world best practices across the globe, authority and responsibility cannot be separated. If VCs wouldn’t be a chairman of its syndicate and authority was transferred to chairmanship other than VCs then that person should be held responsible for performance. A syndicate is there to keep an eye on the performance of the vice-chancellors and they may be asked for further annual performance reports by the pro-chancellor (Minister) and Chancellor (Governor). The authority should be given to the vice-chancellors, of course with accountability, the VCs maintained.

The VCs quoted that newly established universities in Punjab where the minister of education was chair of the syndicate, these universities can be differentiated easily through any parameters with those universities where VCs chaired the syndicate.

While talking about the formation of a uniform Act for all university like PU BZU, established before 20th century (2000), especially the composition of the syndicate, they said that old universities Act is an ideal model and it should be implemented in all other public sectors veracities across Punjab to bring uniformity of the standard higher education sectors.

Yet another VC told that all VCs have unanimously agreed upon that the sitting VCs should be a chairman of the syndicate and moved a resolution against the chairmanship of syndicate other than sitting VCs of varsity in a recent meeting of all VCs called on Chairman HEC Dr Tariq Banuri.

The VCs strongly opposed chairmanship other than VC i.e retired Judge, bureaucrat etc. The VC maintained that being a chief executive of a university if he isn’t empowered to take a decision in syndicate how would he be able to give outstanding performance. “Neither any institution becomes powerful and result-oriented nor any chief executive (VC) will give extraordinary results”, he added. The VCs conceded that every VC should be accountable and judged through his/her performance valuation and performance should also be measured under certain and decided parameters after one year at least, adding that such parameter had not yet been defined by the authority up till now.

While talking to this reporter, former Vice-Chancellor of PU Prof Dr Zafar Moeen Nasir said that the amendments in all the universities Act, that universities have to be autonomous to make their decisions and run administrative affairs. “If these amendments were adopted, the vice Chancellor would become just a dummy with little power. He will be on the mercy of others to make decisions. I don’t think it will improve the administrative functions of the universities or strengthen academic affairs. It will create unnecessary political interference in universities which is detrimental for the whole education system. I would have resisted bitterly this brainless proposal,” Dr Nasir vowed.

The President of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Dr Sohail Yousaf told this scribe that FAPUASA has strongly opposed the VCs performance evaluation through any committee. He said that the Federation doesn’t suggest shaping such a committee for VC evaluation, adding that instead of this, he stressed to empower the syndicate and senate of each university through its elected members and not its formation via selected members. Dr Yousaf also recommended the old Model of PU Act for unvarying Act in universities across Punjab. The federation rejects the new amendment Act and would resist its implementation, the FAPUASA president warned.

The president of Punjab University Academic Staff Association (PUASA) Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry also rejected the proposed amendment Act. He condemned the proposal of appointment of retired judge and bureaucrat as chairman of the syndicate too and called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan and Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar to take notice of the conspiracy before it is too late and take actions against those who wanted to destroy public sector universities.

Dr Atif Shahbaz President ASAGCU at GCU Lahore told The Business that the VCs should be answerable by giving them authority in the first place. The act of the universities that were established before 2002 have senate for it and also the VCs have to work for the pleasure of the Chancellor and the Chancellor has authority to interfere at any time. He said that an authoritative captain can lead better and there is nobody who knows it better than our PM. “Have you ever seen a coach or a manager sitting outside the team leading a team? A captain is always a leading member of a team. An outsider cannot have that much affection and passion for an institute that an insider has,” he said. Keeping the VCs authority intact makes him answerable as well when applied with full spirit. Therefore, it is better to go for a uniform act, similar to the act of the universities before 2002, Dr Shahbaz said.

Discussion with more than 15 former VCs, deans and retired professors also expressed that controlling the VC by the government through changes in Act is highly condemnable. Any government in the world does not get involved in university affairs. They also maintained that a VC should be accountable and his/her performance must also be evaluated through the Chancellor, not any other committee. They suggested that performance evaluation must be carried out every two years during his/her contract period of four years. They also maintained that if a VC is working excellently then of extension his/her services must be continued beyond any age limits as the best examples of serving above 80-years as VC across the world are present.

They also mentioned an ideal model of the university Act which is 150-yers old and it is sufficient to bring uniformity in all the veracities Act. They strongly opposed the chairmanship of a syndicate except for VC. They emphasized that a separate ‘Secretariat’ for all universities must be established in the premises of the Governor House where an elected representative member on behalf of all universities is placed to present the institution’s issues to the Chancellor. The former VCs also accented that all VCs meeting must be held every month under the chairmanship of Chancellor to expedite the pending issues of varsities. In this connection, the Chancellor will have to differentiate his role between the two domains.

The Sources at Punjab Higher Education Department told this reporter that during the tenure of former Chairman PHEC, a draft of amendments to the Act with regard to the selection of VCs Pro-VCs and their evaluation for all universities had been finalized and duly approved by the former CM Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.  Sources said that not only a complete process to evaluate the performance of VCs had been defined but the evaluation Performa was also designed with consensus. The sources further said that the said draft two or three Pro-VCs roles, responsibilities, their evaluation and beside their method of selection, criteria were also proposed. The sources further claimed that only notification had yet to be issued and the present authority should approach the previous PHED management as well as the sitting PHED chairman for getting a copy of the approved draft of an amendment to act instead of a new attempt.

Talking to this scribe Minister Higher Education Raja Yasir Humayun said that he didn’t even move it. It is just a suggestion by the law department. He said that there is no Act coming soon. Responding to the protest of teachers the minister said that he doesn’t expect some ‘childish behaviours’ especially from the educated people of the society. He clarified that there were a number of steps of its discussion and forums ahead where it would definitely be deliberated with concern quarters. After consensus of all stakeholders it would be moved to the cabinet and Assembly floor, he said. To another question, he said that anybody can approach and meet him but he would definitely be on board and take them in confidence in this matter. The minister said that he would call soon a meeting of VCs.

Amendment in Varsities Act 2020 widely opposedChancellorFAPASAformer Vice-Chancellor of PU Prof Dr Zafar Moeen Nasirgovernor punjabHEC ChairmanMinister Higher Education Raja Yasir Humayunperformance evaluationPerformance Key Indicators (PKIs))PHEDPro-VCs rolesPUASAresponsibilitiesSyndicate chairmanshipunanimously agreeduniform Act
Comments (0)
Add Comment