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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Recorder Report

Business Recorder

Published Date: Jun 28, 2020

Syndicate chairpersons: Hiring retired bureaucrats, judges may weaken varsities’ autonomy: speakers

The draft ‘Punjab Public Sector Universities Amendment Act 2020’ undermines the autonomy of the universities by allowing the appointment of retired bureaucrats and judges as chairpersons of the syndicates of the universities depriving the vice chancellors and teachers of their right.

This was the crux of a webinar on ‘The Autonomy of Higher Education Institutions in Pakistan’ organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Saturday.

Senior academicians including the VCs of various universities said that the university teachers’ fraternity and the vice chancellors of the universities in Punjab are resisting the draft amendment demanding that the autonomy of the universities and VCs should not be compromised in the interest of higher education in the province.

They observed that compromising the autonomy of universities in Punjab may harm higher education:

Vice chancellors call for massive changes in draft Punjab Public Sector Universities Amendment Act 2020.

The academicians were of the view that the proposed Act has been drafted without taking the stakeholders on board who will not allow compromise on the autonomy of the universities. They were of the view that instead of curtailing the powers of VCs of the universities in Punjab, they should be given autonomy to appoint their teams including deans, chairpersons of departments and centers, pro vice chancellors and the treasures, etc.

The university teachers’ fraternity feels that such an attempt will end intellectual freedom and harm independent academic research once the University syndicates will be headed by retired non-academician bureaucrats and judges and others who do not know what is higher education and academic freedom. This may be a conspiracy to curtail intellectual freedom.

HEC Executive Director Dr Fateh Mari was of the view that any kind of law-making requires a wider debate among the stakeholders before a formal draft is finalized. Besides, he said, the draft should come in the public domain for a consultative process. “We have witnessed amendments in various university acts but the basic framework always remained intact,” he said, adding that the freedom and autonomy are important for quality higher education.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri earlier presented an overview of the situation that has been emerged after surfacing of the proposed draft. He said any such effort if allowed to get materialized would have a disastrous impact on the autonomy of the universities. “The civil society and think tanks would lend their complete support to academia to highlight crucial issues.” Dr Suleri said that the collective voices of the stakeholders would be duly shared at the relevant forums.

Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) VC Dr Syed Muhammad Ali and president of the Vice Chancellors of Pakistan, was of the view that any amendment in existing law should be aiming to bring some improvement in the system. However, the proposed draft, if getting implemented, would render the universities completely ungovernable. He said that one cannot expect to achieve the best results regarding higher education without paying higher level esteem to the vice chancellors that are the custodians of these institutions. He said that syndicates of different universities already get benefit from the wisdom of representatives of different walks of life. However, appointing someone else than the VC as Chair of the syndicate will hugely undermine the administrative and intellectual freedom of the VC.

National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Dean (Social Sciences) Dr Shahid Siddiqui termed it quite unfortunate that even the institutions of higher education are dragged into the politics of power. He said that we cannot expect a VC to deliver when s/he is left to face undue and consistent pressure in the name of appraisal twice every year.

Kinnaird College University principal Dr Rukhsana David said when we compare our universities with the institutions of higher education of other countries, we also need to learn about their systems that are based on a higher level of autonomy.

AUF former vice chancellor Dr Iqrar A Kahn was of the view that the governance at universities could be improved further and a serious soul searching is the need of the hour in this regard. However, he said, the presence of a powerful vice chancellor is imperative to expect him/her to deliver.

University of Education VC Dr Naseer Pasha said the vice chancellors of the universities are major stakeholders that haven’t been consulted before the preparation of the said draft. He said it would be important for the government to get a vibe of real issues that the universities are facing at the moment.

Women University Multan VC Dr Uzma Qureshi said the insinuations of higher education needs more autonomy rather than comprising whatever is available. She said that a thorough consultative process is a must to introduce any change if it’s required.