Fiji the Fiji Islands

Defiant Academics Won’t Be Punished, Says Tikaram

University of Fiji academics who have refused to clock-in and clock-out will not be punished.

The chair of the University Coun­cil, Pro-chancellor Anil Tikaram, who was present at the Senate meet­ing at Saweni campus last Friday, gave this undertaking.

It was not clear whether their di­rective is now defunct.

Under his watch as Acting Vice Chancellor for one month, while the Acting VC Narendra Reddy was on leave, the controversial clock-in and clock-out policy was extended to cover academics

The academics protested vehe­mently and referred their grievanc­es to the union, the Staff Associa­tion of the University of Fiji.

At the meeting, some members of the Senate provided concrete evi­dence that intimidation and threats had been made against academ­ics who had refused to register for the biometrics and the directive to clock-in and clock-out.

Mr Tikaram’s no punishment as­surance was appreciated by mem­bers of the Senate, particularly the academics.

It was also acknowledged that there was no policy in place for clock in clock out by academics at the university and that it was a di­rective only.

The members of Senate asked on what basis such a directive could be issued as the appointment of the Pro-Chancellor Anil Tikaram as Acting Vice-Chancellor, while Acting Vice Chancellor Narendra Reddy was on official leave, was it­self in question.

The Fiji Sun (Between the Lines) article on this point was highlight­ed by some Senate members at the meeting.

It was noted at the meeting that the union had received grievances from individual academics that the clock-in, clock-out directive was given without proper authority and breached their individual con­tracts.

Members said that the normal pro­cess for grievances should take its course.

However, a Dean’s Committee, as a sub-com­mittee of Sen­ate, was requested to consider the workload model for the university and to review the directive as part of its deliberations.

The Senate, the university’s high­est academic authority discussed other issues of concern to them that had arisen over the past few months.

Under Section 28 of the University of Fiji Decree the Senate, among other powers, has the power to re­view the operations and workings of the university in line with its vi­sion and mission and also has the power to express any opinion on matters of concern to it.

It is understood the Senate mem­bers made important decisions that are likely to partly restore the con­fidence of staff and students in the university.

For example, it was noted that the position of Deans of Schools could from now on only be occupied by academics with the status of asso­ciate professors and professors to provide appropriate leadership at the senior-most levels of university business.

This was a de­cision made at the council level many years ago, but was not faithfully implemented by the uni­versity administrators.

It is understood the University Senate meeting was useful in that views and concerns were freely ex­changed.

This provided a positive step for reconciliation between academics and administration over a whole range of issues.

The university will now proceed towards selecting its new Vice-Chancellor.

It is believed that the Joint Senate and Council Committee will soon begin shortlisting applicants for the process of selection to begin. Edited by Losirene Lacanivalu

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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