The Higher Education Commission (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. This was stated by Chairman HEC Tariq Banuri while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.
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 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 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 creating 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 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 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 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.