Inviting proposals for appointment of TU VC A serious move or orchestrating a drama?


Himalayan News Service

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Different universities adopt different procedures in the search for appropriate persons as their Vice-Chancellors. For example, Oxford University appoints the VC on the basis of the election performed by Congregation (on the nomination of a committee consisting of the Chancellor and representatives of the Council, Congregation and the Colleges), from among the members of the Congregation. In Lancaster University, a VC-search committee is formed by the University Senate. The committee invites proposals from competent academicians long before the incumbent VC’s term expires. Following a competitive and rigorous process of selection, the committee recommends 2-3 candidates to the Chancellor for appointing the VC.

TU’s appointment of the VC so far is purely influenced by power politics. There was a piece of news about Education Minister internally hunting for TU’s VC, without determining criteria for the selection and making the intent public. As a matter of fact, it is the responsibility of the committee consisting of three members of the TU Senate, headed by the Education Minister to be formed by the Prime Minister. Instead of making the committee public, and asking openly for proposals, as the names are presented by the media, the Minister appears to be having intensive discussions only with UML cadres. In this situation, how can he find a competent academician as the VC of TU? Failing to follow a standard procedure may lead TU, like in the past, to have a UML VC, not TU’s VC, who will further the deterioration of TU. If the Minister is serious about higher education, not orchestrating a drama, he should follow a standard procedure of doing things in a professional manner, and initiate dialogues with the stakeholders-the teachers, administrative staff and students.

The body responsible for searching for appropriate candidates for the position of VC should know what kind of person it is looking for and why. An important point is that academic excellence, visionary leadership, strengths in resource mobilization, proven track records, etc. constitute characteristics of a competent and dynamic VC. In order to find such a person it is necessary to adopt standard procedures that several universities adopt in the world. Can the Minister of Education publicly present his selection criteria, and justify after someone is selected?

In order to find an appropriate person for TU’s VC, it is, therefore, plausible to do two things: looking into the emerging problems of TU, and searching for a proper candidate through a competitive and rigorous process competent enough to address these problems. These days, TU is becoming unmanageable because of its mega size- 60 constituent colleges and proliferation of affiliated colleges, at present 818, and about 300 thousand students. TU is losing its academic credibility because of poor conduct of exams, traditional curriculum, less relevant and less useful academic packages, etc. One serious problem is how to bring TU to a a manageable size, for which a strong leadership with vision and commitment is desperately needed.

TU seriously suffers from a financial crisis because it fully depends upon the government funds and tuition fees. The problem is that its leadership never creatively thought how to make best use of its assets to generate additional resources for enhanced learning and mobilize resources from international sources.

A VC must have excellent academic background- academic achievements, high quality research and publications to obtain respect from the university professors, administrative staff and students. The VC should have a bold vision of the institution’s mission and goals, and a clearly articulated strategic plan to translate the vision into concrete programs and targets. He should be able to present how he would lead TU on a dynamic path, rescuing it from stagnation. He should have clear agenda for TU’s reforms.

There is no doubt that modernizing higher education needs funds for utilising technology for better learning, attract quality staff, build quality infrastructure, and provide scholarships to the needy, offer training and international visits to the teaching staff. Therefore, it is said that a competent VC takes his breakfast with businessmen, lunch with industrialists and dinner with donors. The point is that the VC must know how to mobilize resources. In addition, a person to be selected for this position must demonstrate that he has proven track records of successful performances in leading educational institutions in the past. He should be able to clearly present his ideas about how the administrative issues of the university will be addressed. The VC must understand also the internal dynamics of TU- the influence of students’ and teachers’ politics, party politics, the interest and manipulation of the private sector, the way the Campuses are manipulating information, etc. We can identify appropriate persons for the position of TU’s VC by asking the potential candidates to present their proposals addressing the above issues to the Senate or a body formed by the Senate or the Prime Minister.

(Source: The HImalayantimes)