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Inquiry tribunal confirms anomalies in KC admissions

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Inquiry tribunal confirms anomalies in KC admissions
« on: February 23, 2010, 08:27:51 PM »
Inquiry tribunal confirms anomalies in KC admissions
Lahore: An inquiry tribunal formed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has confirmed anomalies in admissions on self finance basis at Kinnaird College for Women and termed appointment of registrar wrong.

The tribunal was formed in January by the CM following strong protests by KC teachers and students after KC Principal Dr Bernadette L Dean sacked three faculty members and repatriated four others to the Punjab Higher Education Department.

The principal's action was seen as victimisation and KC teachers moved an application against what they called unjustified appointment of the college registrar. Teachers had also questioned admissions on self finance basis.

According to the inquiry report submitted by the Inquiry Tribunal to the CM, meetings were held to finalise the report and a number of faculty members, the principal and the registrar also appeared before the tribunal. The tribunal also called for the record related to admissions on self finance and minorities' seats besides record of appointment of registrar.

As many as seven faculty members had appeared before the tribunal who had complained that the principal was rude to the faculty, particularly those from the Education Department. They alleged there were financial irregularities in admissions under self-finance seats in Pre-Medical and Pre-Engineering. They also complained that the principal had employed a foreign citizen Lisa M Donald who did not have a work permit.

The report said the principal was asked to send ten senior most heads of the department for interview by the tribunal. The report adds: "While some faculty members made complaints similar to those brought to the notice of the tribunal in the first meeting, others stated that they had no complaint against the principal and were satisfied with her performance."

"Some senior members of the faculty were critical of the appointment of the registrar and the manner in which she was selected." The report adds: "It was also stressed that the principal was not well oriented to the Kinnaird College culture which may be different from the academic environment in Aga Khan University from where she had come."

As per the inquiry report, the record provided by the principal regarding admissions on self finance was computer generated and lacked some requisite inputs for proper examination of the case therefore two of the tribunal's members themselves visited the college and furnished their report on financial administration and admission process. In its observations on admissions on self finance basis, the tribunal observed that as per the report there were many anomalies in the number of students admitted to the college under the self finance scheme.

"The factual position which had emerged is that the Board of Governors allowed admissions under this scheme up to 10 percent of the general seats totalling 30. In 2004, the BoG increased this number to 40. The present principal admitted 67 students in FSc Pre Medical and Pre-Engineering and 16 at the Bachelors level," the inquiry report reads.

"Better discretion and prudence demanded that the principal should have sought clarification/ approval of the BoG in this matter. Further, notification of the merit lists was done in a shoddy and erratic manner. However, the total amount collected was duly deposited in the account of Bank of Punjab which had been verified from the bank. The allegation that in certain cases amounts exceeding Rs 100,000 per candidate was received off the record was not established."

The findings of the report on financial administration revealed the college was keeping 34 accounts with four banks for which no explanation was offered. "Bank accounts are indicative of different heads but it was not clear as to which expenditure was being charged to which account. The budget of the college for year 2009-2010 was not in candid form."

About the appointment of Dr Naima Khurshid as the KC registrar, the tribunal observed that her appointment as registrar upset the faculty. It also observed that the advertisement in the press laid down four-year experience as a registrar in a university and a PhD degree but Dr Naima did not have that experience.

"A registrar's position is of considerable importance in an educational institution and gross indiscretion has been shown in this appointment," the inquiry report reads. The KC Principal had claimed that the college's BoG had ratified the appointment of Dr Naima Khurshid as registrar.

However, according to the tribunal's inquiry report, the higher education secretary being a member of KC BoG did not support the appointment while Dr Naima's appointment as registrar was approved by a majority vote in which the BoG chairman chose not to vote.

About the foreign citizen, the tribunal observed: "Lisa M Donald also worked in some undefined capacity in the college. A document produced before the tribunal shows that she demanded Rs 40,000 as remuneration for her work in admissions. Her employment was not in order as apparently she did not have a work permit or permission from the competent authority."

Interestingly in its recommendations the tribunal states: "Admissions under the self-finance scheme should be placed before the BoG for approval. Any other intervention at this stage will be counterproductive and will not only cause unnecessary hardship to students already admitted but also lead to unnecessary litigation."

Other recommendations include: "The Board of Governor may be advised to re-advertise the post of the registrar and select a suitable person with requisite qualification and experience. The BoG should involve itself more effectively in affairs of the college. The principal should involve senior faculty in policy matters and day to day administration and create team spirit."

"The tribunal is of the considered view that the CM may like to constitute another broad-based committee to examine rather complicated issue pertaining to the viability of existing administrative and institutional arrangement in the Kinnaird College and other such institutions, as it has very intricate administrative, academic, financial and legal aspects. The proposed Committee may include besides others eminent educationists, P&D Board Chairman, the higher education secretary, the finance secretary and the law secretary."

The inquiry tribunal was headed by AZK Sherdil while Rab Nawaz, Ms Fauzia Salman, the Lahore assistant postmaster general, Cassian Rozario, the senior vice-president Bank of Punjab, Dr Liaquat Masih Qaiser and Dr Arifa Syeda were tribunal members.