KATHMANDU, Feb 5: Six former vice-chancellors of Tribhuvan University have urged the government to appoint the vice-chancellors and boards of trustees of the universities without further delay.
Concerned over the delay in appointing the top officials at universities and the ongoing division of spoils among big political parties when it comes to key jobs, the former vice-chancellors have warned the government not to allow any political intervention in the appointment of such officials.
Six universities are currently without their executive and administrative heads, with Tribhuvan University the only university to have a vice-chancellor appointed. The other universities have been without their leadership for more than six months and the government is showing no urgency to fill the vacant posts with suitable candidates.
Officials familiar with the situation say the government’s promises to duly appoint university officials on merit basis are nothing but a farce, as the political parties have refused to give up their stakes in academic institutions.
A university’s board of trustees should be a team of senior educationists and it is these trustees rather than the government that should be supervising the university. The vice-chancellor should report to the board of trustees, and the board of trustees would be answerable to the government. The appointment of the board of trustees is the first step in ensuring accountability at universities to making sure that all new rules and regulations are implemented as intended.
According to an official who did not want to be named, search committees that should be looking for suitable individuals are actually waiting for the political parties to reach a consensus among themselves. Against the background of delays in appointing top university officials, the former VCs have urged the government to use merit as the criteria and not political influence in selecting candidates for leadership and executive positions.
Addressing an interaction organized in Lalitpur on Tuesday, the former vice-chancellors took strong exception to the way the selection process is being conducted. They urged the government to allow the universities to run independently and systematically and keep out any political interference .
”The main reasons for the decline of higher education in Nepal are lack of autonomy, political meddling and opacity in decision making,” said former TU vice-chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema. “The government needs to take responsibility for the funds invested in the educational sector and provide answers for how these funds are utilized,” he said.