KARACHI, June 1: Gross irregularities allegedly committed in the pre-selection board process of a department are likely to provoke a heated debate at Karachi University’s top statutory body meeting scheduled to be held on Saturday, it emerged on Friday.
Much of the criticism is likely to be directed towards the vice chancellor, who would be presiding over the meeting, as he had issued appointment orders about the highly controversial selection board without taking the syndicate into confidence despite having promised to do so at an earlier meeting.
The extent of the alleged wrongdoings can be gauged from the fact that even a candidate, appointed assistant professor, has submitted a complaint to the vice chancellor office and called for a review of the whole selection process.
During the April 14 meeting of the syndicate some of its members had raised serious questions about the transparency of the pre-selection board process vis-a-vis the computer science department and it was decided that the vice chancellor would investigate the matter and report to the syndicate at the next (June 2) meeting.
The syndicate’s agenda which carries the names of all appointees of many other departments does not show the names of computer science department appointees for approval.
Two criteria for one post
According to sources, the university twice advertised the post of assistant professor for the computer science department with two different criteria; first in 2008 and then in 2010.
The ‘modified advertisement’ published in 2010 allowed a candidate holding a first class master’s degree from a local university and six years teaching experience at some professional institution to apply for the post, although usually the
minimum criteria stated for the post of assistant professor is a PhD or master’s degree (foreign) or MPhil (Pakistan) or an equivalent degree awarded after 18 years of education in the relevant subject.
The university announced a selection board in January for the post advertised in 2010 which was postponed when candidates raised the objection that how the university could call the selection board for an advertisement published in 2010 when it had not called the candidates who had responded to the 2008 advertisement.
The selection board was announced again in the following month but was postponed, this time, too, on candidates’ reservations. Reportedly, the university had sent interview letters to only two candidates. Another date was announced but withdrawn.
Finally, a combined selection board for all candidates who had applied for the post under different criteria was held in March, still not without a controversy. A number of candidates approached the university administration to protest against what they called a ‘violation of merit’.
Sources also question the scrutiny of applications in the absence of the department chairman and the dean of the science faculty, both of whom are important part of the scrutiny committee.
Speaking to Dawn, at least three candidates alleged that the university administration declared them ineligible though they were very much qualified for the post. One of them was sent a letter, informing her of being ineligible, by the then registrar before she could submit her equivalence certificate on the date set by the university.
The university also declared a candidate ineligible who had acquired a PhD degree from the KU computer science department and was teaching at the same department as a foreign faculty staff.
He was considered unqualified on the grounds that his basic degree was of electrical engineering.
“I have done my MS from Concordia University, Canada, after studying in its department of electrical and computer engineering. All top-ranking universities of the world have electrical engineering and computer science department today.
Besides, I also taught computer science and software engineering to BS and MS students for four years at the KU computer
science department. How could I be declared ineligible?” the candidate asked.
The affected candidates also alleged that the administration manipulated the entire pre-selection board process only to benefit the university’s regular lecturers. They also alleged that some of the appointed candidates even then did not meet the required criteria and stated that they raised their voice against ‘this injustice’ in writing.
According to sources, the university also received complaints from some external candidates who were neither declined nor called for interviews held in March. These candidates alleged that the university did not call them though they met the selection criteria.
A recent complaint filed with the administration was from an appointee, who states in his letter: “The anomalies in the process of the advertisements, scrutiny, selection board, appointment and joining proceedings have seriously jeopardised the lawful and legitimate rights of a number of applicants including the undersigned who deserves to be appointed as the assistant professor with effect from Oct 24, 2009 (as had been done with two other candidates) and not 2010.”
Upon contact, Prof Dr Majid Mumtaz, a syndicate member, said it was unfortunate that one of the top departments of the university was being destroyed by a group of teachers.
“I have protested in writing against the minutes of the meetings to be presented today. We had asked the vice chancellor to look into the matter and inform the body of his findings at the next meeting. But instead of doing that, the vice chancellor issued appointment orders of seven candidates,” he said.