Six Universities in J&K functioning without heads

Srinagar: For the last seven months, six universities of Jammu and Kashmir are run by the caretakers as the JK government has failed to appoint Vice-Chancellors which is hampering administrative work in the varsities.

There are around 11 universities in Jammu and Kashmir including two central universities and out of these, 6 universities are run by caretakers.

In April 2020, Indian government came up with the gazette notification for the acts that have been amended after the abrogation of article 370 which granted special status to JK and stripped it into two Union Territories.

Among the amended acts, included University Act.

According to the new amendments in the University Act of JK, the tenure of Vice Chancellor of Universities is three years, or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier, except for Kashmir University.

“VC Kashmir University can hold the chair for three years but the later part that is 65 years age limit is not mentioned in the Kashmir University Amendment Act,” Advisor in-charge Higher Education Department, Rajiv Rai Bhatnaghar, told Free Press Kashmir.

The six universities functioning without the heads include, Cluster University Jammu, Cluster University Kashmir, Central University Jammu, Central University Kashmir, Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST) and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU) in Rajouri.

Vice Chancellors of Cluster University Jammu as well as Kashmir resigned from VC’s post after their tenure ended up in June last year.

This was followed by the government order that additional charge of the Cluster University J&K is given to Vice chancellor Jammu & Kashmir University respectively till the new incumbent is appointed for the varsity.

However even after seven months there is no progress in appointing Vice Chancellor for Cluster University in both Jammu and Kashmir which is hampering the academic as well as administrative work in the varsities.

An official at Cluster University said, “since the office of in-charge VC is in Kashmir University it takes time to send files to his office for approval which in turn affects the administrative work. For the last six month government has failed to appoint a new VC to run the varsity efficiently.”

He added that as there is no head in the varsity, the employees come and go on their own, no one here can hold them responsible.

Similarly, tenure of VC, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology (SKUAST) – Kashmir ended in October last year and the search committee was formed by the government in the last week of July.

However, there is no progress seen for the selection of a new VC.

“Applications for the new incumbent were submitted by various candidates but the screening process has seen no head way. The process has been halted due to the reason unknown. In-charge VC can handle routine work but he cannot take any decision for new policy or research related matter. Government should have made a new incumbent for the varsity as early as possible,” said an official SKUAST-K wishing anonymity.

He said that an in-charge person cannot take any action for recruiting new employees or take any strict action against any employee who violate any rule in the varsity.

One of the top members of the search committee said that the process of appointing the VC for SKUAST is going on. “We have received applications from the candidates and the appointment of a new VC will be made soon.”

When asked how much more time it will take for appointing VC, he said, “we will start interviews and after that selection will be made.”

The term of incumbent VC of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University in Rajouri also ended up in October last year and the VC of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University has been given additional charges of VC BGSBU.

Likewise, the Vice Chancellors of Central University of Jammu as well as Kashmir have ended last year and both of them have been given extension till the new incumbent will be appointed.

Advisor in-charge Higher Education Department, Rajiv Rai Bhatnaghar, did not respond when Free Press Kashmir asked why the VCs for the six universities have not been appointed even after seven months have passed. (FPK)

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