HEC Nullifies Entire Process Of FUUAST's Appointments

According to the report, a copy of which is on file with the News, the selection board’s deliberations went on from May 21 through August 29, 2021, with a total of 20 sessions.

HEC Nullifies Entire Process Of FUUAST's Appointments

The Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, and Technology (FUUAST) appointments made in 2022 in response to advertisements published in 2013 and 2017 have been annulled by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC).

The commission recommended in its report on the FUUAST appointments that all important administrative positions be filled as soon as possible in a transparent manner and that a new selection board be announced and completed in 90 days.

A special FUUAST Senate meeting presided over by the President of Pakistan asked the HEC On September 15, 2022 to ratify the university’s selection process. The commission asked the FUUAST Registrar to share supporting documents after the special Senate meeting, but the university didn’t respond, the HEC report claims.

The HEC chairman and FUUAST Acting Vice Chancellor Dr. Muhammad Ziauddin met virtually to discuss the case, and both parties decided to form a committee to verify the appointments made by the university. It was decided that the committee members would visit the campuses in Islamabad and Karachi and compile a report, which they would then present to the chancellor’s office.

Raja Akhtar Iqbal, Joint Secretary MoFE&PT (Islamabad), Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tufail, Pro Vice Chancellor of NED University in Karachi, Shahzaib Abbasi, Director Coordinator HEC (Islamabad), Javed Memon, Director In-charge of HEC Regional Center Karachi, and Dr. Arshad Bashir, Consultant Academics HEC (Islamabad), were all members of the committee.

This year, from January 2 through January 4, the committee was in Karachi. On January 5, the committee members later went to the Urdu University campus in Islamabad.

The acting VC, Acting Registrar Dr. Zarina Ali, former Acting VC Prof. Dr. Rubina Mushtaq, Incharge Islamabad Campus Dr. Hafiz Ishaq, and other senior university officials were among those the committee met during the visits.

According to the committee’s report, Dr. Rubina and Dr. Muhammad Sarim, who were serving as the acting VC and registrar at the time the advertisements were published in 2013 and 2017, respectively, used those positions to conduct the proceedings of the selection board in 2021.

According to the report, a copy of which is on file with the News, the selection board’s deliberations went on from May 21 through August 29, 2021, with a total of 20 sessions. Following the proceedings, appointments were made to 235 of the 1,100 candidates.

Among those chosen for FUUAST appointments were six unnamed officers, 89 lecturers, 109 assistant professors, 21 associate professors, and 10 professors. When they discovered that Dr. Sarim’s handwriting was used for two-thirds of the entries made in the final register, the committee discovered extensive tampering in the original record.

The committee also reported that some of the statements were overwritten, where ‘one’ candidate was changed to ‘none” and ‘recommended’ candidates became ‘not recommended’.

The page numbers in the register were also out of order, and full-length papers had been rewritten and pasted. The committee noticed that the list of applicants and interviews did not include one successful candidate from the electrical engineering department.

According to the report, crucial information was missing from the file, including the total number of applicants, the short-listing criteria, the marking scheme, and the breakdown of the interview scores. Additionally, several pages lacked the selection board members’ signatures.

The committee claimed that FUUAST representatives were unable to address the inconsistencies and ambiguities in the record of the selection board proceedings in a way that was satisfactory to them. The committee noted that crucial documents were missing, including referees’ reports and publications’ editorial reviews, and they were also not given access to the scrutiny committee’s reports.

According to the report, a large number of candidates for the positions of professors and associate professors were not given interviews. Both the acting VC and acting registrar mentioned that the documents had been lost after the committee insisted that such reports be produced.

The selection of candidates for unofficial positions, backdating of appointments, and lax probationary requirements were also criticised by the committee. The committee questioned the number of open sanctioned positions for which the Selection Board 2021 was convened, but representatives of FUUAST were unable to respond in a way that satisfied the committee.

“Under such circumstances, the entire process is considered dented where FUUAST management increased or decreased the number of posts to accommodate or eliminate any candidate,” according to the report.

Even though they were interviewed in 2021, some candidates had their appointments take effect as early as 2018. In some instances, the appointments were made prior to the advertisement’s publication.

The Committee found that partial selection boards against the 2013 advertisement were conducted in the years 2017, 2018, and 2019, but the selection board proceedings against a single advertisement could not be divided into multiple parts spanning over a period of eight or more years.

The committee also found that the scrutiny of the candidates’ documents was not properly done and individuals with irrelevant degrees were allowed to appear in interviews of a different discipline.

According to the report, a random check revealed that the number of qualified candidates matched the number who showed up for interviews. Out of more than 60 candidates, only one passed the test in some instances. The majority of these times, the chosen candidates were already working for the university.

The selection committee saw several instances where the fewest candidates—usually internal candidates—appeared for the written test or interview and were ultimately chosen. For instance, only two of the 65 applicants for the position of lecturer in computer sciences made it through the written exam and interview to be chosen for the position.

The committee is of the opinion that the candidates already working at the university were preferred, and the absence of all the other candidates on interview dates could not be a coincidence.

FUUAST mentioned in its written reply that there would be no financial impact for the newly appointed faculty members, but the committee stated that this response was not based on proper working. The committee also reported that former acting registrar Dr. Sarim was not available to meet with the committee even though they made several phone calls and emails.

He purposely avoided speaking with the committee members because his attendance record showed that he was present on campus when the committee was there. According to the report, Dr. Sarim’s actions suggested that he was reluctant to share details about the Selection Board’s 2021 proceedings.