The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FUUAST) has had 13 vice-chancellors (VCs) in the last 10 years starting 2013. The speed at which the VCs come and go is as worrisome as it is embarrassing.
As things stand today, the university senate cannot convene as it lacks quorum. The process of recommending senate members is long, cumbersome and, therefore, uncertain, involving the highest of offices. Even with everything running smoothly, the process takes months. What happens when things are not smooth, which is always the case, is for anybody to guess, and to keep guessing.
There are numerous instances when the temporary administrative officers, mainly members of the faculty, flouted official regulations and went against the instructions of the relevant ministry and the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
For instance, the newly released interim VC set aside official recommendations and regularised the services of hundreds of teachers in grades 18 and above. The matter relates to the selection board advertised in 2013 and 2017 which was subsequently conducted in 2022. During the last meeting, the president of Pakistan, who happens to be the university chancellor, was briefed about the irregularities, and an inquiry was ordered into the matter.
Besides, the university convocation, which should be an annual event, was last held in 2011, and no annual budget has been placed on the agenda of the senate for many years.
Further, the interim VC, who was given the charge to complete the process of finding a permanent VC, did not convene a single meeting of the search committee. The committee was formed by the chancellor, with the HEC chairman being its convener. The committee, which included two junior teachers from the university, never held a meeting.
Further, there are more than 30 retirees from the university who have not been paid their dues despite their hectic efforts.
The administrative, financial and educational crises in the university are because of the ordinance under which the university is being governed. There is an urgent need to change the university’s ordinance and to run it like all the other established public-sector universities in the country.
DR TAUSIF AHMED KHAN & DR IRFAN AZIZ