Task force recommends university officials be picked on merit basis

  • The government-instituted panel suggests those accused of plagiarism should be disqualified
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

May 16, 2019-

A government task force has recommended that officials in universities be appointed on merit basis after proper evaluation of different leadership qualities, which, if implemented, will ensure a major departure from the long-standing practice of political appointments.

The task force has also suggested making either President or Vice President as the chancellor instead of the prime minister.

The panel formed to recommend the criteria for the selection of vice-chancellors, rectors and registrars at the universities and health academies has suggested the formation of a search committee led by chairperson of the University Grants Commission, which recommends the names of three persons while the university chancellor selects one among them.

There has been a practice that a search committee led by Education Minister, who is the pro-chancellor, recommends the names. So far, the positions of vice-chancellor, rector and registrar are divided among the parties, and whichever party is in power gets the majority of portfolios.

The task force has set seven criteria, which carry the weightage between 10 to 15 marks.

The search committee will award the marks based on the qualifications set in each criterion and the top three scorers are recommended for the post of vice-chancellor, which is the highest executive position in universities.

The academic qualification carries 10 marks, experience and the tenure of having teaching experience has 10 marks, while seniority and former experience in the leadership position—dean for instance- also carry a maximum of 10 marks each.

The experience of academic research carries a maximum of 15 marks while academic writings in national and international journals have the weightage of 20 marks.

The highest-- 25 marks-- has been allocated to work-plan and strategy as the executive head of varsity.

The seven-member task force, led by Education Joint Secretary Hari Lamsal, submitted its recommendations to the Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Tuesday.

“The recommendation has been made after studying the practice in the neighbouring countries and consultations with the academic experts,” Bishnu Prasad Mishra, member-secretary of the task force, told the Post.

The recommendation report also suggests that President should be the chancellor of large varsities such as Tribhuvan University, Nepal Sanskrit University, Agriculture and Forestry University and Nepal Open University, while Vice President should take the position of chancellor in other universities and health academies.

Currently, the prime minister is the ex-officio chancellor of all universities and academies.

“The prime minister being an executive head of the country naturally is the busiest person, who cannot allocate time to assess the performance of academic institutions,” reads the recommendation report.

The report has set 10 minimum qualifications for one to apply for the post of vice-chancellor, which include preferably PhD but at minimum a master’s degree, university professor and experience of having taken the leadership position.

Similarly, one must not have conflicting interests—investment in private colleges for example--and high moral standard for the position. In addition, there should be no case of plagiarism against the candidate.

The provision, according to a member of the task force, was added after incumbent vice-chancellor at the Tribhuvan University, the oldest and the largest varsity of the country, was found to have picked crucial parts in his academic paper from the paper written by a Turkish associate professor.

Professor Tirtha Raj Khaniya, vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University, was found to have lifted a section of an article written by Ferit Kilickaya, associate professor at Middle East Technical University and Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, Turkey.

Khaniya had copied a large section of the article in his work titled “Use of authentic materials in EFL classrooms” that was published in a journal of the Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association.

In an email conversation with the Post in 2015, Kilickaya had said he was shocked to see a major chunk of his article being lifted by Khaniya.

“I tried to get in touch with Khaniya but could not reach him. I couldn’t file a legal case as I am unaware of Nepal’s legal system,” he had told the Post.

Published: 16-05-2019 07:46

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