The Lahore High Court’s ruling to remove the four acting Vice-Chairpersons at the Punjab University, Lahore College for Women University, University of Sargodha (UoS), and Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology could prove to be useful in fixing the universities riddled with problems. The acting VCs of all four have been accused of making questionable appointments, among other issues. As a stop-gap measure, the senior most teachers within the institutions will take up the position until suitable candidates are found. In general, the staff of the universities, particularly the Punjab University, seem to have taken to this decision positively.

Mujahid Kamran, the acting Vice Chairman of the Punjab University embodied why this decision was necessary; he was still in charge at the university after declaring his retirement and completing two tenures over the course of eight years. He had been repeatedly dubbed a ‘one-man show’ at the Punjab University – everything from his initial interview test (which was reportedly a failure) to decisions made under him have been criticised by independent observers. Another VC, Dr Uzma Qureshi reportedly does not even have have the post-doctorate publications and experience to be a professor at the university she was in charge of. Clearly something was amiss.

The quality of education in the country is primarily still struggling because the lack of higher education institutions. The lack of properly accredited teachers leads to a struggle each time a university is in the market for a dean or a VC, students are often engaging in malpractices such as openly cheating during exam and plagiarising other people’s work – this cycle continues as many of those graduates end up teaching a new crop of students. With this step, it is hoped that the federal Higher Education Commission can replace the acting VCs with people actually suited for the job. VCs appointed on merit could go a long way in fixing the hiring problems and the overall culture of not educating and researching diligently that has pervaded in the universities. All four are in need of reforms, but there is hope if the new VCs are selected within the stipulated period of seven days and are up to the task.