HEC gears up for long-delayed appointment
- Web Desk
- Nov 13, 2023
ISLAMABAD: After a prolonged hiatus of over five years, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is poised to finalise the appointment of a regular executive director (ED) today.
The HEC, the apex decision-making body for higher education regulation, is scheduled to convene on Monday to address the appointment of a regular ED. The HEC’s search committee will present the educational credentials and score sheets of 18 candidates to the commission, seeking approval for the appointment based on merit.
The ED holds a crucial position as the principal accounting officer of the HEC, managing an annual budget of approximately Rs 100 billion for development and non-development purposes. Additionally, the ED serves as the commission’s secretary.
Over the past five years, the HEC has advertised the position five times, conducting interviews only to delay the appointment, citing the unavailability of a “suitable” candidate. Critics question the efficiency of the commission, which produces hundreds of PhDs annually but allegedly struggles to find a suitable candidate within Pakistan despite multiple advertisements.
Some officials speculate that vested interests may have contributed to the prolonged delay, calling for a government inquiry into the matter. They assert that the appointment should be based on merit, especially considering the HEC’s promotion of ad-hocism.
An HEC official, however, denies that vested interests have caused the delay, emphasizing that a commission meeting on Monday aims to resolve the issue. Another official highlights that the post was advertised in January, receiving 160 applications. A scrutiny committee completed its work in March, and a court directive in August instructed the HEC to appoint a permanent ED by October 13.
After the resignation of Dr. Arshad Ali in 2018, the government appointed Dr. Shaista Sohail on a deputation basis in 2020. Following her retirement, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended her last extension in August, directing the HEC to appoint a regular ED.
HEC Chairman Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed confirmed the Monday meeting but refrained from sharing further details about the shortlisted candidates at this stage.