Non-recruitment on advertised positions

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2024

HEC chief asks VCs to complete hiring within one year

By Khalid Khattak

LAHORE:In a frustrating trend plaguing higher education institutions (HEIs) of the country, the recruitment process for advertised positions of teaching and non-teaching staff often remained unresolved for an extended period, stretching beyond two years in some cases.

This persistent issue has raised eyebrows at the Higher Education Commission (HEC), prompting the regulatory body to intervene. Expressing grave concerns, the HEC has issued a directive to HEIs mandating universities to complete the recruitment process for advertised positions within one year from the date of advertisement.

The HEC is an independent, autonomous, and constitutionally established institution and plays a crucial role in funding, overseeing, regulating, and accrediting higher education initiatives in the country.

“Seats of higher learning are not only characterised or defined in terms of brick and mortar but rather also more importantly in terms of the people that run and serve them. It is therefore essential that the HEIs of the country are staffed with the best human resource available - and such can only be ensured if the process of appointments in the HEls are executed in the most effective, efficient, and procedurally apt manner,” wrote Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC in a letter addressed to vice chancellors (VCs), rectors and heads of HEIs.

In the letter, HEC chairman has expressed serious concern over instances where HEIs either deliberately delay or face multiple challenges in finalising recruitment process for advertised positions. “Such a practice is not only against the principles of good governance but also renders the advertisements infructuous and discriminatory for other talented candidates who at the time of advertisement may not have been eligible to apply for the positions so advertised but are eligible for consideration by the time applicants are called for interviews. Moreover, such unwarranted delays also caused legal challenges, stir unnecessary controversies, and raise doubts on meritocracy of the process,” noted Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed. Regarding previously advertised positions, the HEC recommends that those advertised before March 1, 2022, should be withdrawn immediately. For positions advertised after this date, a review should be conducted, and recruitment, if necessary, should be completed by June 30, 2024 and warned that Selection Boards convened after this advised deadline will not be endorsed by the HEC.

Sources within the Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) have indicated that the HEC no longer has the authority to interfere in the affairs of HEIs chartered by provincial governments after the 18th Amendment. They view the letter from HEC as contradictory to the principles of fair play.

When contacted, HEC Chairman Prof Dr Mukhtar Ahmed clarified that HEC had never prohibited provincial HECs from implementing measures to enhance the performance of HEIs. He suggested that rather than criticising the federal HEC, the PHEC should focus on initiatives to enhance the quality of education and uplift HEIs in Punjab.

In response to a question, Prof Mukhtar stated that there were over 70 public sector universities without regular VCs across the country with a significant number in Punjab, significantly hindering the universities' operations. He mentioned that he has written letters to the newly elected PM and CMs of provinces to request a meeting to address this serious issue, along with other challenges faced by universities nationwide.