Coming Fuuast Senate meeting may result in VC’s removal – The News International

When Prof Athar Ata was appointed as the permanent vice chancellor of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) in May, some thought that the days of administrative crisis at the varsity might be over.

However, it has not been so as since his appointment, the new VC has so far attended the varsity for only a month and a week. Prof Ata seems to be still associated with a Canadian university. According to the website of the University of Winnipeg, Prof Ata is the chairperson of the chemistry department of the varsity. Apparently, he accepted the position of the Fuuast VC while he was on a yearly leave from the Canadian varsity.
After his leave duration — which, according to the Canadian varsity’s website was from July 1, 2021, till June 20, 2022 — ended, he reportedly joined the University of Winnipeg again without relinquishing charge of the Fuuast VC.
Some faculty members of Fuuast, however, seem hopeful that the issue of the absent VC would be taken up at the upcoming Fuuast Senate meeting to be held on September 15. Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Rana Tanveer Hussain has called a meeting of the Senate with the approval of President of Pakistan Arif Alvi, who is also the chancellor of the varsity, to take final disciplinary action against the VC.
The ministry has appointed director Mohsin Abbas as the focal person for this Senate meeting instead of the registrar. The varsity administration will submit its agenda for the meeting through him by September 8.
A letter issued by the federal ministry reads that the Senate members should ensure their attendance in the meeting. According to the letter, the minutes of the meeting should be prepared and delivered to the ministry within five days after approval from President Alvi.
On May 25, Prof Ata assumed the charge of the VC’s office. However, after serving the varsity for one month and six days, he took a 20-day leave from July 1 till July 20, and left for Canada and America using the varsity funds for his air travel. He has not returned so far.
Later, the federal education minister expressed his displeasure at Prof Ata’s leave, and approved his leave only from July 7 till July 15, directing him to resume his office on July 16. However, the Fuuast senate chairman, AQ Khalil, told The News that Prof Ata had gone abroad for Fuuast’s collaboration with varsities of the US and Canada.
Instead of returning on July 16 or July 20, Prof Ata started running the administrative affairs of Fuuast online. He would attend the varsity’s official meetings from Canada through his computer.
Till date, the federal ministry has served two show-cause notices to the VC, and after the Senate meeting, a final and third show cause would be issued so that disciplinary action could be taken against the absent VC.
Various teachers of Fuuast have also alleged irregularities on part of Prof Ata while he attended the varsity as its VC for one month and six days. A number of employees received financial benefits from him, and he also made a contractual employee permanent without fulfilling legal requirements, said a teacher requesting anonymity.
It is expected that the VC would face tough questions for participating in the Senate meeting online in the presence of representatives of the Higher Education Commission, Senate members, and officers of the federal education ministry.
Two Fuuast senators, Prof Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan and Dr Irfan Aziz, have written a letter to the VC stating that the intervention of the federal ministry to remove the VC was against the freedom of knowledge, but unfortunately, several incompetent members were inducted in the search committee that was tasked with appointing the VC.
The Fuuast senators wrote that the VC was sitting thousands of kilometres away from the country and trying to operate the varsity through WhatsApp while the faculty members and employees were facing several problems. This situation resulted into a severe administrative crisis in the varsity.
“We have complaints but you [the Vice Chancellor] fired non-teaching staffers who had been working on daily wages for the last 10 years in the varsity. You are enjoying perks and incentives in a university in Canada but you forgot your own university,” read the letter
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