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HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri addresses a press conference in Islamabad. (File Photo). -Photo Credit: HEC

HEC chairman backfires protesting university teachers

Teachers demand removal of Dr. Banuri over ‘defective’ policies

By Javairia Shafiq 

ISLAMABAD (October 20, 2020): Despite serious criticism and protest demonstrations by the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Associations (FAPUASA) on the issues of post-PhD experience, TTS related problems and other policy concerns, HEC administration has apparently ‘rejected’ the demands made by the faculty representatives.

HEC Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday said, “A professor enjoys perks and privilege of a Grade-21 officer. An issue highlighted by vested interest is that people should get promoted without the appropriate post PhD experience. The focus of HEC efforts and policy reforms is to support quality, reward performance and incentivize excellence in order to enhance the quality of education and research. “HEC has always given priority to genuine demands by the faculty members and will continue to do so, however, faculty members should also realize that the purpose of the decisions is to serve our students and future employers of graduates and not to continue to lower standards,” he added.

Regarding TTS issues, Mr. Banuri said: “some individuals are trying to destroy the system by lowering its standards. They have demanded that the publication requirements for TTS faculty members should be reduced and that they should be allowed to do other jobs. This will ensure the demise of the TTS system. It will also be against the interest of students who deserve to be taught by the best professors,” he said.

On Monday, Punjab University Academic Staff Association observed Black Day on campus on a call of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association against the policies of Higher Education Commission and Punjab government. PUASA and FAPUASA Punjab Chapter President Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry, Secretary Javed Sami and other office bearers visited various departments.

The teachers were wearing black band on their arms as a mark of protest against the HEC chairman and his ‘incompetent team’. The teachers demanded instant removal of HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri.

Just one day after reacting to the Federation protest, Banuri addressed a press conference. He said HEC has been making all-out efforts to enhance opportunities and facilities available to the university faculty and has initiated a number of programmes for their higher studies, professional development as well as providing guidance to universities on streamlining the hiring and promotion processes.

“There is no doubt that the most important factor that determines the quality of any educational institution is the quality of its faculty. This is the core objective of various scholarships, R&D, and quality assurance policies of HEC. Scholarships are provided for the PhD and Post-doctoral Fellowship, Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs and International Research Support Initiative Programme. HEC also provides research grants for individuals and institutions under different schemes. Finally, HEC has set minimum standards for faculty appointments and promotion and reviews appeals against any violation of the standards,” the chairman said, according to an official press statement released after the press conference.

Mr. Banuri said the Tenure Track System (TTS) was introduced as part of a broader quality reform agenda aimed at enhancing performance and productivity and attracting capable and talented faculty. TTS system seeks to create a healthy competition, encouraging excellence in research and teaching.

“The total number of TTS faculty members in Pakistan has increased from 95 in 2005-06 to 3198 in 2018-19.  So far, more than 105 public sector universities and degree awarding institutions have adopted this System for academic appointments.”

The HEC’s governing body has recently amended the Tenure Track Statutes, in order to reward faculty for superior performance, increase the time frame to acquire tenure in line with international best practice, infuse data-driven and transparent evaluation and management process, and above all, incentivize excellence by introducing 35% TTS Premium for TTS faculty. These improvements are aligned with the recommendations of the TTS review committee, and aimed at resolving tenure, promotion, and recruitment issues on a sustainable basis while ensuring credit for quality.

Some individuals are trying to destroy the system by lowering its standards. They have demanded that the publication requirements for TTS faculty members should be reduced and that they should be allowed to do other jobs. This will ensure the demise of the TTS system. It will also be against the interest of students who deserve to be taught by the best professors.

HEC has extended the maximum length of tenure to nine years for TTS faculty who are unable to complete eligibility requirements for promotion as Associate Professor within the already specified period of six years. Likewise, HEC has separately issued a notification to enable the TTS faculty to obtain valuable managerial experience by allowing the faculty to take up limited academic-cum-administrative responsibilities.

Similarly, faculty on BPS scales is also being facilitated through different programmes. Previously HEC has upgraded their pay scales, and now a Professor enjoys the perks and privilege of a Grade-21 officer.

Another issue that is highlighted by vested interest is that people should get promoted without the appropriate post PhD experience. The focus of HEC efforts and policy reforms is to support quality, reward performance and incentivize excellence in order to enhance the quality of education and research. “HEC has always given priority to genuine demands by the faculty members and will continue to do so, however, faculty members should also realize that the purpose of the decisions is to serve our students and future employers of graduates and not to continue to lower standards,” he added.

Higher Education on stake: PU teachers observe Black Day

LAHORE: (Monday, October 19, 2020): Punjab University Academic Staff Association on Monday observed Black Day on campus on a call of Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association against the policies of Higher Education Commission and Punjab government. PUASA and FAPUASA Punjab Chapter President Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry, Secretary Javed Sami and other office bearers visited various departments. The teachers were wearing black band on their arms as a mark of protest against the HEC chairman and his incompetent team. The teachers demanded instant removal of HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri.

Addressing the teachers, PUASA President and FAPUASA Punjab President Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry said that the incompetent HEC chairman and his team had brought progress of higher education sector in Pakistan to a halt.

He called upon Punjab government to immediately implement its promises made to academic fraternity. He said that the HEC team was not resolving the problems being faced by the faculty members in the universities and had failed to promote higher education and research culture in Pakistan. He said that the HEC chairman did not make any serious effort to convince the government for allocation of appropriate funds for the higher education sector. He demanded the government restore the 75 percent rebate given to teachers. He said that HEC was attempting unnecessary and illegal interventions in the autonomy of universities. He said that the teachers strongly rejected HEC’s new policies regarding research journals, post PhD experience for appointment of teachers on BPS, admissions in M Phil & PhD level and any other which had been made without consultation of teachers. He said that HEC had also failed to resolve issues being faced by the BPS and TTS teachers.

Criticizing Punjab government for not fulfilling its promises as per the agreement, he demanded Punjab government approve the ante-date appointment of teachers as per previous practice. He said that the Punjab government was humiliating vice-chancellors and teachers through cheap tactics. He said that FAPUASA must be given representation in every policy-making process. He said that FAPUASA would continue its country-wide protest campaigns unless our just demands were addressed in a proper manner. He said that teachers from all universities would hold a mega protest demonstration outside HEC Islamabad on October 21.

LAHORE: The Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations took out a protest rally against HEC and Punjab government’s anti teachers’ policies at New Campus. -File Photo

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