Srinagar: The Higher Education Department has failed to appoint a principal to the Islamia College, Hawal, for two months now, even as the reputable institution is in the process of becoming a deemed university of Kashmir.
After the superannuation of outgoing principal Prof Muzaffar Ahmad Khan on April 30, stakeholders of the college said that the lack of a principal was hurting the institute’s prospect of becoming a deemed university.
Standing out from the rest of the colleges in the valley, Islamia College is the only institution having been conferred the status of a State Autonomous College by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in the year 2010.
The college, which was not accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) at the time, started practically working as an autonomous college in 2013.
The college currently has a separate budget and a governing board with the state head (Governor at present) as its chairman.
The UGC has also conferred the institute with the status of College with Potential for Academic excellence (CPA).
Prof Khursheed Ahmad Mahajan, former Director of Management Studies department and current General Secretary of the Islamia College Alumni Association (ICAA), said ICAA stood out because , it had been “vetted by the CID, Crime Branch and the state vigilance commission.”
He said that an alumni association was a “requirement once a college becomes autonomous”.
Once the UGC declares an institute as autonomous, Prof Mahajan said, it “keeps an eye on the academic output of the college before they declare it a deemed university”.
“The subsequent five years are very crucial for the college. The principal as head of the institution has to play a crucial role in the college’s promotion,” he said.
As per Prof Mahajan, there were “potential candidates in the higher education department from among whom the department could have appointed a principal”.
Due to the college being headless for two months now, “You cannot take a policy decision,” said Prof Meraj ud Din Mir, Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kashmir and one of the alumni association’s members.
“Even those (the UGC) who have to grant this autonomy to the college as a deemed university could take these components into consideration whether it is being headed by a regular or an ad-hoc arrangement,” Prof Mir added.
Dean of Academic Affairs, Kashmir University, Prof Musaddiq Amin Sahaf who is also a ICAA member said that government should soon appoint a principal to Islamia College.
“Unless the leader leads the team, it is not possible for the team to contribute. The college has a huge challenge as it is on the way of becoming a deemed university,” Prof Sahaf said.
“Unlike other colleges in the valley which can run without executive heads for some time, as they have established systems in place, the Islamia College cannot afford to be headless even for a day,” he emphasised.
On reasons why the government has not appointed any principal to the college for the past two months, Prof Sahaf remarked, “Only the government can tell you why.”
“As an alumnus of the college, I am painful to see a college which is emerging as a leading institution being without a leader. The government should have taken a call much earlier,” he said.
Well-placed sources in the higher education department said that the outgoing principal was “trying for re-employment through extension”.
“But extension has been banned by the government some time ago. And this has also been the policy of Islamia College: that there will be no extension of the faculty. It is against transparency and not in the interest of the teaching fraternity as a whole,” a source said.
Commissioner Secretary Higher Education Department, Javed Ahmad Khan, said that the principal to Islamia College would be appointed “within 15-20 days”.
Established in the year 1961, Islamia College is the first autonomous college in the valley where masters in Business Administration (MBA) is offered.
It is also the first college to have started Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) in 2002.