Chattogram University
Prothom Alo file photo

The Chittagong University authorities have secured a prior approval from its apex policy-making body - Syndicate - for making less or more recruitment irrespective of the circular posts.

From now on, there will be no barrier in recruiting teachers and officials arbitrarily without paying any heed to the circular. The decision was made in the university’s 539th syndicate meeting on 14 October, but it came to the fore on 23 December after the authorities prepared the meeting minutes.

However, former syndicate members said the decision goes against the university ordinance, while senior teachers and University Grants Commission (UGC) members said it would pave the way for further irregularities.

There has been a longstanding complaint against the university authorities of making recruitments without any circular. The authorities took an attempt to appoint 13 teachers in February and March this year beyond the circulated posts, but failed to get clearance in the 537th syndicate meeting held on 5 March.

Kazi SM Khasrul Alam Quddusi, Moinul Haque Meaze, and Nasim Hasan were members in the then syndicate. After they completed their tenure in the syndicate in July, the authorities included three new members to the policy-making board and got the appointment bid approved.

Earlier, 12 part-time teachers and 15 other employees were appointed to the university laboratory school and college without any circular in June last year. There were allegations that the appointments were made on the recommendation of top officials and teachers of the university and leaders of the Chhatra League.

Apart from this, five phone conversations were leaked in February regarding financial transactions in the recruitment of teachers in the Persian language and literature department and officials in some other departments. The conversations were of two candidates with Khaled Misbahul, private assistant of vice chancellor Shireen Akhter, and Ahmed Hossain, official of the accounts comptroller’s office.

However, Khaled Misbahul was removed from the position immediately while Ahmed Hossain was suspended. A committee looked into the matter and recommended filing cases against the two officials, but the authorities are yet to take action in this regard.

Irregularities and 'controversial' decisions in recruitments are not a new phenomenon in Chittagong University. The authorities under former VC Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury had allegedly recruited 134 officials in an untransparent process from 2015 to 2019. Some 14 teachers were appointed beyond the circulated posts at the eleventh hour of his tenure at the VC office. Moreover, he faced fierce criticism after he had assumed the position of Bangabandhu Chair allegedly without the approval of the syndicate and the academic committee.

He only maintained the legacy of his predecessors. Former VC Anwarul Azim Arif appointed 271 teachers during his tenure from 2011 to 2015 where 71 recruitments were beyond circular.

Criticizing the issue of additional recruitments, Kazi SM Khasrul Alam Quddusi said a decision to allow additional recruitment goes against the university ordinance. There will be no necessity for the planning committee and the recruitment board if the decision takes effect.

He believes the authorities made the decision to clear the way for arbitrary recruitments.

According to the university ordinance, a department’s planning committee determines how many teachers are required. A circular is floated against the vacant positions fixed by the planning committee.

The authorities verify the applicants’ information as per the circular requirements and forward it to the recruitment board. In the following step, the board interviews the candidates and makes recommendations for recruitment. Later, the syndicate gives the final approval to the recruitment. The same is true for recruiting officials and other employees.

Former syndicate member Moinul Haque Meaze said the syndicate members are not authorized to allow additional recruitment. It mainly oversees whether the planning committee or the recruitment board has functioned in line with the circular, whether someone is being appointed despite not having the qualifications.

The UGC has also objected to the recruitment of teachers, officers and employees outside the circulated posts. Two UGC officials reached the university campus Monday and enquired about various issues, including recruitment irregularities and leaked phone conversations in the following three days.

UGC member Abu Taher told Prothom Alo that the university authorities do not have the scope to appoint outside the circular posts. It needs to float a new circular if additional recruitments are required. Also, the decision taken by the syndicate has no other precedence. No other public university has ever taken such a decision.

What the syndicate members say

Prothom Alo tried to reach five of the total eight syndicate members in Chittagong University. Pro-VC Benu Kumar Dey and Bangla department professor Mohibul Aziz declined to make any comment over the issue while syndicate president and VC Shireen Akhter could not be contacted despite repeated attempts to talk in person as well as over the phone.

Abul Mansur, another syndicate member, said there is a shortage of teachers and manpower in many departments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is time-consuming to issue new circulars and make recruitments.

Lack of manpower shortage brought official works in many departments to standstill. Hence, a decision has been made to recruit outside the circular posts, he said, adding the decision has been taken in the interest of the university.

Syndicate member Khairul Islam also came up with a similar remark.

Meanwhile, law department professor Jakir Hossain said the syndicate decision created a new way of irregularity in recruitment. The irregularities were done secretly till the date, but it can now be done publicly.

Basically such a decision has been taken to legitimize the irregularity, he added.