Whistle blowing in HEIs is vital to curb unethical practices, improve values, say experts
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Whistle blowing in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is vital to protect public interest, curb unethical practices at various levels, improve the overall standards of high education and create best learning environment for the students and teachers.
Experts from prominent national and international academic institutions said this while sharing their views with the participants at an international conference on contemporary issues and challenges of ‘Whistle blowing in higher education institutions,’ organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
Speaking to the participants of the conference, Dr. Fatima Dar, IQRA University, Karachi, said that social integrity in HEIs must be upheld by everyone. She added that there should be a proper mechanism in place at the institutions to ensure accountability. The whistle blowing here plays an important role to resolve various issues.
Dr. Sajida Naureen, from Sardar Bahadar Khan Women University, Balochistan, informed the participants that despite several challenges, her institution is playing a vital role in imparting higher education to women in Balochistan. She said whistle-blowers in our environment are prone to various difficulties and thus, there should be a mechanism to protect those who dare to speak truth.
Highlighting the issue in terms of legal cover or legal support to whistle blowers, Dr. Razia Sultana, Vice- Chancellor of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University, Peshawar, said that no mechanism exists in our institutions to provide such support to whistle-blowers. She suggested that this discussion should be taken to parliament as well keeping in view its importance for brining improvement in higher education institutions.
Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, SDPI Executive Director, emphasized that whistle blowing is a mean to reach our end goal of SDGs, especially pertaining the goal of leaving no one behind. Through digital tech and digital governance, we can improve our system of complaint management and transparency, he said, adding that “We need to ensure fair chance to everyone in Higher Education Institutions. Dr. Suleri further said that whistle-blower could play important role to inform us about unethical practices in higher education institutions. However, principle of ‘until proven guilty,’ must be strictly adhered.
Dr. Irene Bregenzer from University of Vienna, discussed in detail the global context and best practices pertaining to whistle blowing in HEIs. “We need to take the issue holistically and keeping habits, visions, and values in consideration,” she suggested.
Dr. Athar Mahboob, Vice-Chancellor of Islamia University, Bahawalpur, was of view that the major problem that exists in Pakistan is that vice-chancellors are highly powerful and rest of the syndicate lacks such powers. “We need to come up with a mechanism where whistle-blowers can report matters and get protection under the law of the land,” he added.
Former Managing Director of Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Dr. Nadia Tahir, informed the participants that a bill was passed in Pakistan for Whistle Blowing but unfortunately, it only covers financial malpractices. Thus, other unethical practices in universities still remain unattended. She asserted that we need a mechanism in place to highlight unethical practices in academia.
Prof. Dr. Saleem Mazhar, Vice-Chancellor, University of Sargodha, was of the opinion that universities in Pakistan with limited resources are doing very good job. Dr. Mian Ghulam Yasin, Dean of University of Sargodha, added that we are still not enough prepared to address the issues and challenges related to whistle blowing.
Dr. Nargis Abbas from University of Sargodha opined that whistle blowing aspiration depends upon the accessibility to the channel of communication in an organization. The knowledge partnership between University of Sargodha and SDPI would open new avenues.
Dr. Beenish, Dr. Uzma Ashiq, Dr. Anjam Zia, and Shahid Minhas also highlighted various aspects of the topic and suggested that this important debate should be continued at various levels to redress key issues in the sector.