NED & political interference | New varsity law

NED teachers say no to 'political interference'
Karachi, Sep 21: The teachers' society of the NED University of Engineering and Technology observed Autonomy Day at the university campus on Wednesday.

They held a protest camp, where they urged the government to accept their recommendations for the Sindh universities law.

"We shall never allow the government to interfere in matters of the university and destroy our democratic institutions," said Dr Usman Ali Shah, general secretary of the NED Teachers Association.

Later, scores of teachers held a walk on the University Road, holding placards that read, "No to Political Interference" and "Save University Autonomy".

After the passage of the 18th amendment, the powers of appointing the vice chancellor had been transferred from the governor to the chief minister.

With it, the power to make other important appointments, such as those of the finance director, chief auditor, examinations controller and bursar, have also been transferred to the CM.

Previously, all these decisions were made after joint collaboration of the senate, syndicate and academic council of the university.

Universities all over the country have condemned the "attack on university autonomy by the Sindh government".

They fear this will cause political interference in the campus and derail the democratic institutions of the university.

"We welcome the 18th amendment and devolution of powers to the provinces, but the new university law has constricted the academic freedom of the universities, and we fear that it will politicise the academic culture of the institutions in the province, which we oppose," said Shah.

He said a committee of teachers had consulted the charters of various universities from around the world and recommended a holistic range of amendments in the bill, which will help keep in check the political influence from tampering the operation of universities.

"The chief minister has directed the chief secretary to make a summary of our recommendations, which he will study, and he assured us that he will soon meet us," he said. "We hope to solve our issues with the government amicably." The news

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Action against three KU students
Karachi: Three students have been debarred from appearing in exams and entering Karachi University campus after they attempted to manhandle a teacher, it emerged on Wednesday.

The students were enrolled in BS second year (evening programme).

"The decision has been taken as a result of an unfortunate incident that took place yesterday [on Tuesday] when some students tried to manhandle a faculty member of department of physics. The university has decided to debar Faraz Shakeel (environmental studies), Umar Ali and Noman Malik (chemistry) from entering the campus and appearing in exams," a university press release stated.

Their academic records have also been sealed till a university disciplinary committee takes a decision.

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Teachers oppose new varsity law
Karachi: Describing the Sindh Universities Laws Amendment Act 2013 as a law which was "anti-education and against the spirit of devolution", speakers at a seminar held here on Wednesday said that if the piece of legislation was implemented, it would bring universities to the 'pathetic' state of government schools and colleges.

They asked the government to amend the act in accordance with teachers' recommendations and ensure autonomy and academic freedom of universities.

The seminar was organised to mark 'Sindh Universities Autonomy Day' in Karachi University.

The day was planned by the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association at the universities across Sindh in order to create awareness of the legislation.

Highlighting teachers' concerns over the law, Karachi University Teachers Society president Prof Dr Mutahir Ahmed said that some people might have some reservations over decentralisation, but the process by and large had been appreciated all over the world and considered as a major step towards development.

Similarly, he said, the 18th constitutional amendment might have not come up to the expectations of all and sundry as some people wanted certain departments under the federal government while there were others who had expressed dissatisfaction over the way the amendment was being implemented, there was a consensus across the board that devolution of power would bring efficient administration - a need of the hour.

"Under the same constitutional amendment, the education department was transferred to provinces. It was being expected that a pro-devolution government would bring devolution to its logical end by transferring more powers to institutions but that, unfortunately, didn't happen. Instead, the government has taken away administrative powers from universities, which is shocking," he said.

The law on universities was mysteriously passed within half an hour without a debate in the provincial assembly, he said.

"The government action has proved that it used the word of provincial autonomy just to gain more administrative power but has no intention to follow the true spirit of devolution and establish good governance," he added.

All universities of Sindh, he said, were on one page over their autonomy and academic freedom and would resist the present move by the government.

The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology mass communication department chairperson, Prof Dr Tausif Ahmed Khan, said that universities all over the world were considered a place to hold open discussions, debates, develop new ideas and do research.

Speaking on merits and demerits of steps taken by former president retired General Pervez Musharraf, he said that though his Model University Ordinance currently in practice at the Urdu university had many flaws, one positive clause it had was the establishment of a search committee with representation of teachers for selection of a vice chancellor.

"It was because of this procedure that the president acting as the chancellor of universities couldn't bring his own man as a vice chancellor to a university because he was bound to choose a person from a list of three candidates recommended by university teachers," he said.

It was expected from the PPP government that it would introduce measures that could bring better representation of teachers and students in statutory bodies and improve the search committee method in order to ensure transparency in selecting the vice chancellor, he said. "However, this didn't happen. Instead the government took powers from teachers and give them to the bureaucracy," he said.

Prof Dr Anees Zaidi, an educationist and KU syndicate member, said that the government must not act for short-term gains.

"The desire to make a few appointments and induct students on political basis for a short time would have disastrous effects on universities. The government wouldn't remain in power forever and this short-sighted strategy would ultimately harm itself," he said.

Dr Haris Shoaib representing Kuts said that it was surprising that the government without taking out the entire old clauses of the university act had introduced new ones which would make its implementation technically difficult.

Appointments of key university posts by the government would paralyse the vice chancellor administratively, he added.

Meanwhile, a walk was held in the NED University of Engineering and Technology to reiterate teachers' stance over the university autonomy.

The walk was organised by the NED Teachers Association.

SU teachers back changes to varsity law
Hyderabad: 'Sindh Universities Autonomy Day' was observed on Wednesday in the Sindh University (SU) to support recommendations of the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (Fapuasa), Sindh chapter, on revision of the controversial Sindh Universities (Laws) Amendment Act 2013.

The Sindh University Teachers Association (SUTA) organised a one-day awareness camp at the Sindh University central library (zero point).

Office-bearers and members of the executive council of SUTA distributed handbills, gave speeches and discussed various related recommendations with students, teachers, staff and other members and representatives of civil society.

A copy of the bill along with the Acts, Statutes, Rules and Regulations of all public sector universities were displayed for visitors.

Banners were displayed at various locations, emphasising 10 points recommended by Fapuasa, Sindh chapter, to be included in a revised law.

The points included that the word "to control" should be replaced with words "to enhance necessary autonomy"; for appointment of vice chancellor, age limit of 65 years along with procedure of a search committee should be included; for appointment of pro-vice chancellor words "on recommendation of vice-chancellor" and criteria "from senior most professors of University" should be included.

Other points suggested amendments to the criteria of appointment of registrar, controller of examinations, bursar, chief accountant and resident auditor. Dawn

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