A VC should rise above petty politics

A nation regards the Vice Chancellor (VC) of a university as the personification of superior virtues, knowledge and wisdom. He is generally expected to strive to transform his institution into an ideal academic and administrative hub rising above petty political interests, personal likes and dislikes. Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen how many public university VCs have failed to do so, their tenures marred by irregularities and controversies resulting in the loss of credibility. These irregularities often range from favouritism, nepotism in recruitment, financial embezzlement, arbitrary decisions in matters of academic discipline, indecent remarks, etc.

According to an investigative report of this daily, although there are no specific rules for the appointment of VCs in our public universities, a VC is mainly selected from a panel of pro-government teachers. With years of pro-government activism in place, this recruiting system often makes many VCs brazen enough to ignore rules and regulations and overstep ethical boundaries. The report revealed that at least 39 of the 48 VCs in public universities have previously held positions in different pro-government teaching wings. Among them, at least 12 teachers who were directly involved in the AL-supported blue panel of Dhaka University are now VCs from different universities.

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It is also of great concern that a doctorate, once a mandatory requirement for being a professor, now seems optional for those with political affiliations. For example, the VCs of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) and Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX) do not have Ph.D. Also, none of the VCs with a PhD earned it in the United States, which has the most recognized universities in the world. Obviously, their political affiliations triumphed over their teaching qualifications and even history of irregularities.

People expect a VC to lead from the front and bring about a qualitative change in the academic and administrative environment of a university. A VC can take an institute to the zenith of excellence or the abyss of failure – and the current trend shows that we are heading in the latter direction. This is a result that is not desirable either for the country or for the powers that be. We urge authorities to leave academic matters to academics and enable our universities to truly serve the nation through proper direction and capable, non-partisan leadership.

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