Process to appoint VCs of six KP varsities nears completion

PESHAWAR: The process for appointment of vice-chancellors of six public sector universities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is nearing completion as a summary suggesting 18 candidates with a panel of three for each university has been moved for final approval on Tuesday.

The interviews for the purpose were held in Islamabad on Sunday and Monday. A total of 56 candidates had been called for the interviews conducted by the academic and search committee for appointment of vice-chancellors headed by former chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Attaur Rahman. Four candidates avoided appearing for the interview.

The panels were kept secret. “All the names have been sealed. Whatever, recommended by the academic and search committee have been moved for final approval as it is. A single comma could not be changed in the committee’s recommendation,” a senior official in the Higher Education Department told the media.

However, it was learnt that the acting vice-chancellor of the University of Malakand Prof Dr Rashid Ahmad has been recommended as top candidate for the same university and acting vice-chancellor of the University of Swat Prof Dr Hassan Sher has been recommended for his university.

For Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Sheringal Upper Dir, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar and University of Haripur, candidates from Punjab have been placed on number one.

The top candidate is supposed to be appointed as vice-chancellor for the university. If the top candidate declines to join the institution, the second or third name can be considered, the sources said.

The positions in three universities – University of Malakand, University of Swat and Agriculture University Swat – had been advertised in May 2021. In September 2021, four more positions in – University of Agriculture, Peshawar, University of Haripur, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University, Sheringal Upper Dir were advertised.

Nearly 200 candidates had applied for the position of which initially 30 candidates were shortlisted and called for interview. Later 36 more were added to the tally and thus a total of 66 candidates were called for the interviews.

Meanwhile, Agriculture University Peshawar Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Jan Bakht was given a three-year extension. Thus, the interviews were held for the remaining six universities.

There have been serious reservations over the screening and shortlisting of the applications. The candidates from social sciences have claimed that they have been deliberately ignored in the process.

There were a number of candidates from Political Science, International Relations and other subjects of the social sciences, but they were kept out of the process.

Dr AZ Hilali was one such candidate who had enough teaching and administration experience besides getting more than 70 research papers and producing a number of PhDs and MPhils.

He claimed that his name was specifically singled out and rejected at the short-listing stage.

He said that the committee head Dr Attaur Rahman had special liking for candidates from natural sciences and disliking for social sciences.

There were complaints against the arrangement of interviews in the federal capital. Throughout the nine years of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government interviews for vice-chancellors have been held in Islamabad causing huge financial expenditures and administrative issues as the entire Higher Education Department has to move to Islamabad for the interviews. The interviews are conducted in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House, while the members of the committee stay at expensive five-star hotels in the federal capital.