Islamabad - The COMSATS Institute terminated over 200 faculty members during the past three months from its seven campuses, a source revealed.

The terminated employees included teachers hired in officer and special grades and under tenure track system, the sources said. He added that not only the bulk terminations had stirred a wave of fear among the faculty members of the institute for their jobs, but they were also worried about their future employment prospects, as a bill recently passed by Senate to convert the institute into a university also lacked job guarantee for them.

The COMSATS teachers had already been complaining about non-representation on decision-making forums inside the institute.

According to the details, the Senate recently passed a bill to convert the COMSATS Institute into a full-fledged university. The bill is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly in the upcoming week.

The faculty members fear that the bill has no clear provisions for service structure and that how the existing faculty will be accommodated in the university.

Further, the source said that the faculty members were also objecting to the five years term set for head of the institute with no mention of age limit, as heads of public-sector universities were usually appointed for a three years term.

The sources, however, explained the reasons behind termination of over 200 faculty members in the past three months, saying that the institute was over-employed in respect to teachers. Therefore, the administration offered terminal contracts to PhD-qualified faculty members to permanently absorb them, while cancelled the contracts of non-permanent teachers.

About non-representation of the existing teaching faculty on decision-making forums in the institute, the source said that only four faculty members, a professor, an associate professor, an assistant professor and a lecturer, had been given place in the university senate. However, there is no clarification that whether they will be elected or nominated by a search committee,” said the source.

The source also added that the service structure of the faculty is also ambiguous and the termination process with ‘pick’ and ‘choose’ will continue at COMSATS. “Similarly, the finance committee in the proposed bill for the university also lacks representation of faculty while the millions of funds will be allocated for pension and gratuity funds,” the source added.

Source added that keeping in view reservations of the COMSATS faculty members, the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) requested the legislators to review the mentioned bill before passing the same from NA.

A letter written by FAPUASA Islamabad head Dr Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry to the Chairman Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training and Federal Minister for Science and Technology urged for addressing grievances of the faculty members of the institute and removing lacunas in the proposed bill.

The letter available with The Nation stated that COMSATS was one such institute that needed your serious ad sympathetic attention for being a public asset of international statue. It is unfortunate that the bill aimed at converting the institute into a university is having ambiguities and has not fully eradicated the clauses supporting dictatorial mindset.

The letter stressed for including members from judiciary and Human Right Commission of Pakistan in the university senate. “The job protection of all existing COMSATS employees, who have invested their years of time and toil, must be ensured. All these employees after probationary period must be made permanent,” the letter stated.

The FAPUASA also asked for clearly defining tenure and credentials for appointment of top officials including rector. The tenure should not be more than three years in any case. The quota for students of less-developed areas must be reserved as in other public-sector universities of the country, the letter said.

The letters addressed to minister of science and technology and COMSATS Chancellor Rana Tanveer Hussain said that services of faculty members at the institute were being terminated in violation of rules and regulations. The present ad-hoc administration has terminated the employees on personal disliking, the letters said.

The COMSATS administration in its statement acknowledged efforts of all officials and legislators for upgrading the institute into a university. COMSATS Rector Raheel Qamar while calling it a milestone achievement stated that a long-standing wish of students and teachers was fulfilled with passing of the bill from the Senate.

Executive Director Dr Junaid Zaidi was contacted for his view but he did not respond till filing of the story.