Council of Professionals, a teacher union of the Punjab University, urged politicians and all political parties to focus on education, especially higher education, in their election manifestos, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) unveiled the much-awaited schedule for the parliamentary elections, marking February 8, 2024, as the date for the nationwide electoral process.
Speaking with a group of journalists at the University Club, Council of Professionals president Professor Dr Muhammad Nasir – in the presence of Academic Staff Association Secretary Dr Amjad Abbas Khan Magsi, Dr Sardar Asghar Iqbal, Dr Muhammad Islam, Dr Abdul Majid Nadeem, Dr Ghalib Ata, Dr Sayyed Atif Raza, Dr Zafar Iqbal Butt, Dr Aamer Saeed, and Dr Shabbir Sarwar – shared views on various key topics.
Council of Professionals points out serious academic, administrative and policy issues in governance due to ‘missing’ vice chancellor
During the informal media talk, the Council of Professionals also urged the Punjab government to appoint vice chancellors in over 25 universities, including the Punjab University, without further delay. Despite clearance from the Election Commission and the Higher Education Commission to the provincial government, the educationists pointed out that the process for the appointment of the vice chancellors could not be initiated, causing serious academic, administrative and policy issues in the varsities governance.
In the absence of the regular vice chancellor, they said that the Punjab University was being run by a ‘particular mindset’ that has ruined the academics and administration, as fees have been increased manifold in an unprecedented manner. “We are just pointing out as anyone can easily feel the impact of fee increase on students from middle and lower middle class,” they said. “Our policymakers will have to focus on this key issue, as the appointment at top position of any university is not a big deal,” they said.
To a question, they briefed the journalists about the history and need to launch the council to safeguard the merit and promote the culture of research and justice in the university. Regarding the Pothohar Campus in Gujar Khan – Punjab’s largest tehsil by land area that is some 220km to the northwest of Lahore – they said that the campus has been launched without any feasibility study and without any justification but to please a ‘big’ politician. “We believe that it will be difficult to maintain the Punjab University’s standard on the sub-campuses,” they said.
‘Govt must announce research projects, incentive and performance awards, disparity allowances, and increase in house requisition’
The educationists suggested that the concept of affiliated colleges should be revised and strengthened for quality education. To a question, they said that a committee had recommended against the launch of the Pothohar Campus. “We can see that the Jhelum Campus of the Punjab University is only about 50km away from Gujjar Khan,” they said. “Internationally, there is no concept of sub campuses of the universities,” they said, adding that the government must establish new universities instead of introducing sub campuses.
The Council of Professionalsalso leaders said that it was agreed in principle that media should be allowed access to the coverage of Academic Council, Senate, and Syndicate meetings as now the Supreme Court has allowed on-camera sessions. “This is a public university and the public through media has every right to witness proceedings of the Senate, Syndicate, and Academic Council,” they said. The educationists demanded from the incumbent administration to announce the research projects, incentive awards, performance awards, delayed 15 and 25 percent disparity allowances, and an increase in house requisition.