Delays in Vice Chancellors’ appointments

The devolution of higher education to provinces under 18th Amendment resulted in opening flood gate of political interference in the selection and appointments on the vacant slots of Vice Chancellors in the Public Sector Universities in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Before devolution, appointments of Vice Chancellors had been made on seniority-cu- fitness basis which had been a smooth sailing process ensuring selection of the right man for the right job.

The culture of nepotism and gross violation of merit for appointment on these administrative posts introduced by the ANP government could not be either inadvertently or deliberately rooted out by consecutive provincial governments of Pakistan Tehrik Insaf, which clamor day-in-and day-out to have restored merit.

Currently out of 26 public sector universities, positions of Vice Chancellors have remained vacant for the last one year in 18 such institutions. Will strengthening the culture of nepotism and cronyism not impact the quality of higher education in the public sector universities? It merits mention that it was a political appointee in the past who obliged his political masters by recruiting hundreds of employees in the University of Peshawar without the availability of clear vacancies, which is one of the factors of financial crisis in this old and prestigious Almamater. Same practice was done in few other universities.

To add injury to insult, funding from Higher Education Commission has been slashed up to almost zero. Is not negation of Prime Minister’s vision of investing in knowledge economy? Instead of addressing the issue of financial crisis in public sector universities by the provincial government as being its constitutional responsibility, Governor Khyber Pukhtunkhwa sent a memorandum of ban on recruitments in universities despite the fact that these institutions are short of faculty and are compelled to hire the visiting one. It was the governments’ heavy funding to higher education and no political interference in countries like South Korea and Malaysia which enabled these nations to reap the fruits of knowledge economy. Is it not a model worth emulation for the political leadership at the national and provincial level?