Prof. Dr. Arshad Munir
“We are seeking an individual who understands our past and can create a strong and compelling vision for our future; someone who embodies our values but is not afraid to challenge the status quo; a leader who can develop, articulate and implement a strategy capable of moving a world-class university to the next stage, become our next Vice-Chancellor”.
This is the advertisement from University of York England, one of the seven universities known as “the plate glass universities” established in the 1960s and flying speedily on QS globe with 162 ranking at the age of 60 years only with an endowment fund of £7.42 million compared to several oldest universities of UK like university of Aberdeen, established in 1495 having large endowment fund of £58.1 million but is at lower QS ranking i.e. 230 and Heriot- Watt University Edinburgh, established in 1821 having large endowment fund of £12.4 million but at lower QS ranking i.e. 281.
The same is the case with University of Warwick which was established also in the 1960s but flying swiftly on QS globe with 64 ranking at the age of 60 years only with an endowment fund of £6.7 million that indeed, is proof of excellent management, visionary leadership and sincere commitment from both the universities. The administrative driving force behind the University of York’s success include the leadership of a Vice-Chancellor, a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Students), Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and Students), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise, Partnerships and Engagement) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy) who play their role & responsibility at their level best. University of Oxford is one the world’s prominent institutions and has the highest status on the QS world ranking having more than 12,000 employees with more than £1billion income.
It is used to publish a comprehensive booklet for the appointment of her Vice Chancellor which elaborates process of the appointment along with the introduction of the university, teaching, research, engagement as well as fundraising and finance to give a brief outlook to a candidate to come with a vision and strategy that take the university ahead.
The booklet emphasizes that “The Vice-Chancellor must have the courage to identify and to address the difficult questions Oxford needs to tackle, in a way that is sympathetic to the highly devolved and participatory nature of the collegiate University”.
A vice-chancellor serves as the chief executive officer of a university and principal accounting officer responsible for all administrative and academic functions of the University who is appointed for 3-4 years by the Chancellor(Governor) through a high-level search committee in Pakistan.
However, the appointment process of the Vice Chancellors always has been marred by allegations of irregularities, favouritism and even corruption. Many of the Professors have been appointed/ assigned the position of Vice Chancellors who are terminated from other institutions of Pakistan and even with dual jobs. On the other hand, there are also several Vice Chancellors who have been even removed because of their alleged involvement in corruption, favouritism, moral turpitude, and misuse of authority. Hundreds of cases and applications against the Vice Chancellors are still in the Courts, National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Anti-Corruption Department etc. The prevailing data of course, demands overhauling which was already suggested by the author in one of his publications to make the system more transparent and efficient as it is very alarming to hand over an institution to a black sheep or a professional of bad fame/repute.
There are, however, some more suggestions regarding the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor and working of vice Chancellors for more autonomy linked with accountability.
i. Pro- Vice-Chancellor or the Senior Most Dean of the concerned university may be added/ incorporated in the VC’s search committee to represent the university.
ii. HEC/ HED or concerned Department/ Ministry may publish the list of eligible and ineligible candidates with justification on their website for verification, satisfaction, and omissions if any. The comparative award list of all shortlisted candidates may also be published after the interview for information and transparency as well.
iii. The positions of the PVC’s and Deans may be filled directly by the Chancellor’s office through a comparative and competitive documentary base process without involving the Vice Chancellors. The concerned department/ unit of the Chancellors’ office may be held responsible and accountable in case of the vacancy is not filled in one fiscal year.
iv. It may be mandatory to fill at least one post of professors at the faculty level and no faculties be constituted till the appointment/availability of a professor in that faculty.
v. Declaration of own assets and submission of Bank statements along with blood relatives (wife & children) from the Vice Chancellors on the joining & relieving day may be pre-requisite.
vi. Affidavit statement declaring no property has been transferred/ gifted or to ask to transfer/ gift by the VC to any of his relative(s) in/outside the country during his service as VC.
vii. Performance evaluation report of the Vice Chancellors must include the number of national and international Projects, Awards, Gifts, and Funding won by the university staff and students in one fiscal year.
The more details of the above-mentioned suggestions are available and can be discussed and shared with the concerned authorities. Selection of efficient and committed leaders is mandatory for the success of any institute as Bill Gates has pertinently remarked, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
The author is a professor of Islamic Studies having 23 years of teaching, research and administrative university experience at national and international levels having key positions as Dean, Director, and Chairperson etc.
Prof. Dr. Arshad Munir,
Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan.