BPS faculty: a victim of multiple discriminations
Dr Hidayat Ullah Khan
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the higher education in Pakistan has seen unprecedented changes and growth in the early 2000s when Prof Dr Atta ur Rehman was at the helm of affairs of higher education. The growth of higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country can be witnessed by manifold increase in the number of varsities, the number of Ph.D faculty, research output in terms of the number of research publications, growth in new programs, enrollment and graduates, etc. however, it doesn’t mean growth and prosperity for all.
The dark side of these hay days is the dismal state of affairs of basic pay scale (BPS) faculty, one of the oldest public servants’ management systems of the country that has rendered altruistic services in the varsities across the nation over the decades. However, at the moment, BPS faculty is the most marginalized; discriminated against, and deprived as compared to the tenure tracked system (TTS) faculty and even the administrative cadre. This discrimination is multifaceted, i.e. monetary, career growth and representation.
The BPS faculty has been discriminated against in terms of the huge difference between remunerations of BPS faculty as compared to that of the TTS faculty. The remunerations difference between the aforementioned groups ranges from 19% to a staggering 25% from the position of Assistant Professor to full Professor. Similarly, the latter is getting at least a double annual increment as compared to that of the former. The unabated discrimination doesn’t stop here; the TTS faculty also bags an additional 13th salary every year in the form of gratuity as instant cash proceeds.
Moreover, the TTS faculty also has the luxury of up to 4 advanced increments that are used to be granted indiscriminately and across the board, generously over the years. If this staggering monetary disparity, based on the time value of money is taken into account over the period of employment, then the monetary gap between the groups is almost not comparable.
Now coming to career growth based discrimination against BPS faculty vis-à-vis TTS faculty. There is no concept of time-scaled promotion for the former. However, the same is guaranteed through the TTS Statutes for the latter. For instance, the timeline for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor in case of TTS faculty is 6 years but there is no timeline as such for the BPS faculty.
Similarly, the duration to promote from Associate Professor to Professor for the latter is 4 years but there is an indefinite time in the case of the former. Above all, to further boost the morale of TTS faculty a premature and/or retrospective promotion is also a common practice that is unthinkable in the case of BPS faculty. All in all, the administrative cadre too enjoys time-scaled promotion, despite being an auxiliary component of the HEIs.
The love affair with TTS faculty within HEIs can be witnessed by the occupation of administrative positions by TTS faculty members even during the probation period which is strictly prohibited as per TTS Statutes. Despite the fact that the HEC itself has taken serious notice of this but still it is a common practice.
This multifaceted institutionalized discrimination is a source of deep despondency and dismay among the BPS faculty which constitutes almost two-third of the public sector universities faculty. At the same time it is in total contradiction with the Constitution of Pakistan. The most recent example of which is the constitution of the BPS/TTS review committee by the HEC, however, the seriousness of the HEC can be witnessed from the constitution and minutes of the committee wherein the committee lacks true representation as well as willingness to address the core issues of the BPS faculty.
To fulfill the aspirations of the BPS faculty, the HEC has to take the following immediate steps; abolishment of the existing BPS/TTS review committee and reconstitution of the new committee with a proportionate based representation of BPS faculty, review of BPS service structure in a true sense and removal of the existing bottlenecks from it, bridging the existing monetary void between the BPS and TTS faculty preferably to bring the remunerations of entire faculty irrespective of BPS/TTS at par with the market level, introduction of a uniform dual track of promotion, i.e. fast track promotion (with the provision of premature fitness-based promotion similar to that of TTS) as well as time-scaled promotion (i.e. seniority-cum-fitness based promotion system) for faculty, and bringing a uniform service structure for the entire faculty as far as promotion and career growth is concerned.
The writer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Economics, Abbottabad University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.