Who fits to lead our universities to regain their glory
Of late, our universities are losing the public trust because of the various malpractices existing there. There is confusion among the public as to which direction our education system is moving. Our academic centre is itself losing public credibility. It can never be taken as a good sign.
In this context, the term of most of the varsities’ officials has already been expired. The government is now in the process of appointing the new officials in the universities. Most of the stakeholders have been advocating for the appointment of independent officials through free competition.
Against this backdrop, Prof Dr. Basu Dev Kafle, Prof. Dr. Yadav Lamichhane and Prof. Rameshwor Upadhyay expressed their views on the possible remedies to the malpractices prevalent in our universities and ways to reform them during the weekly “Gorkhapatra Sambad” on Sunday.
University professors sans thought organizations : Kafle
The current problems of our universities are that our political system is guiding the education system instead of guiding the politics by the education system. Practice has been that our university officials are appointed from among the personalities having political background rather than from among those having pure academic background. I do not mean that political consensus is not required to be the officials in universities. But I mean that academic consensus must be the priority for the persons appointed to lead the universities.
The understating that only politically associated members could understand politics of the country is totally wrong. Even independent academic personalities can understand the politics well and possess administrative ideas as well. Here, I am also not saying that the political personalities lack academic idea. But the persons who get appointment in the academic centre should not be bias according to their political ideology.
Although the government formally constituted a search committee to select the officials to be appointed in the universities, the current trend of appointing universities officials is political because the political parties’ sister organisations of the universities recommend the professors for the appointment.
It is unfortunate for the country that our university professors have failed to form their professional organisations as a thought organisation. We have only become the expanded organisations of one political party or another.
Academic revolution is a must for now to bring about changes in the universities which could also bring about changes in the country. Our academic discourses have to guide the nation. But our bad luck is that our professional organisations are guided by politics and their goal is limited only to get appointment and mismanage the varsities.
Internationally recognised universities appoint university officials one year before the completion of the tenure of the sitting officials. During the period, the appointed officials could make sufficient discussions on their working plan. In the foreign universities such officials are selected by the Broad of Trustees. And the government-formed Higher Education Commission has also made a recommendation for the same provision in Nepal by formulating an act.
Although the appointment of the new officials through this process is not possible this time, the government must appoint academically sound personalities in our universities because only such officials can bring about changes in universities. The government has to prepare a roster of such academic personalities and appoint ones through a competition among them.
The new officials, vice-chancellors, rectors and registrars should be able to direct the universities in teaching, research and its dissemination. Our universities are at ground zero from the aspect of research. As a result, our universities have failed to give a vision to the country’s authorities.
The new officials of the universities should develop universities as research centres and the research knowledge thus generated should be disseminated to guide the country in the right tract. The university officials who just work as puppets of the political parties cannot deliver and produce the desired results.
Varsity not to practice politics : Upadhyay
University is the place to study the political thought not the place to practice politics. But that has not been in our varsities. What has happened in our universities is because of leadership of the varsities. Persons who are ready to be guided by the politics could only become the vice-chancellor, rector and registrar of the universities rather than the persons having academic and administrative capabilities.
The officials must know the worldwide practices while making appointments in our universities. I don’t mean politically motivated persons cannot be academicians. But the government must focus on appointing the qualified personality rather than focusing on searching a member of the sister organisation.
There is no shortage of good academicians having good leadership skill, but the government must be able to search such capable personalities. And the search committee must be independent to pick up the right persons.
Though we are not in the condition to change the provision of recruitment regarding this, but we can select capable and visionary officials from the existing system. Starting the selection process after the expiry of the tenure of the officials is totally wrong. Appointing the rector as acting vice-chancellor of the university is also against of legal provision. So, the government has to settle it by appointing the new officials soon.
The university offices have become like party offices where ruling and opposition parties exist. So, to change this trend, an academic revolution is very essential. Discourse regarding this is also the revolution. Persons understanding the politics and having ability to coordinate all party are what required by our varsities.
The new officials should be able to show respect to the professors and the universities. Now, there is no cabin for professors, they are even compelled to travel by the public vehicles.
If the new officials are able to develop the university as a research centre, it will certainly be a feed for prosperity in the nation.
Only persons from political schooling can lead universities: Lamichhane
Although majority of stakeholders are voicing for the appointment of independent personalities to lead our universities, I have a condition regarding this. I think independent personality does not possess the administrative idea and way to tackle the bureaucrats of the varsities who always attach importance to their personal interests. So, only the persons grown from political schooling could lead the varsities and face the student unions and different interest groups there. But the person must possess academic personality as well.
Here, a rumour has been spread that the personalities having political ideology lack academic proficiency, which is totally wrong. It is not sure that a subject expert can also become successful while leading the universities.
We have some examples, in which the subject experts have failed when they were allowed to lead the varsities. So, a person having good knowledge of the university, capable for academic, institutional and political leadership must be appointed in the varsities.
Now, we professors of Tribhuvan University hesitate to identify ourselves as academicians of the university due to the vulnerable situation of the university. The situation has arisen due to few academicians having bad attitude although majority of academicians are really genuine and talented.
Some stakeholders have been demanding that the officials should be appointed as per their proposal of working plan. But I think every academician can buy the best proposal in the market. So, personal ability must be major focus of the government. As I know, this government has been exercising to select the best personality that will capable to reduce the bad culture in our universities.
Politics is the centre point in every country. So, only politics can make images of the universities clean by selecting the capable personalities in the leadership of our universities.
(Prepared by Manjima Dhakal, photos by Sagar Basnet)