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An overview of the laws and by-laws in the universities in Pakistan

Universities are autonomous bodies having a complex organizational structure. A uniform Act, diverging statutes, elusive rules and cumbersome regulations are the hallmarks of the statutory business in the public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Serious efforts were undertaken in the past to revise the prevailing Statutes, Rules and Regulations in order to bring some amount of decency, uniformity and standardization in the official business of the universities in the province; nevertheless, this hectic exercise failed to bring an iota of improvement in the functioning of the universities rather it further complicated various processes.

Many people outside the academia and numerous insiders hardly understand the nature, content, purpose, scope, recommending, approving and disapproving bodies of the laws and by-laws prevailing in the public sector universities. This article is intended to address some of these important points unaccounted for since long. With this introductory note, the succeeding section shall elaborate the objectives, ambit, scope and competent forums for approval of these laws in detail.

  1. The Universities Act

In the public sector universities in Pakistan, Act is the supreme legislative enactment. Considered as the Bible, it provides broader guidelines for governance of the official business of the universities.  This legal document is framed by the federal legislative body/parliament in case of the Federal Act for federal universities and provincial assemblies in case of the provincial universities’ Act according to the broader guidelines enunciated in the constitution. Whereas, an Ordinance is the equivalent of an Act but is not enacted by the legislative bodies rather it is promulgated with mere approval of the President of Pakistan or Governor of the respective provinces in the event when the legislative bodies are not in session or in case the legislative bodies are in session but the matter needs urgent attention to deal with an issue of pressing nature.

Universities are, primarily, set up under the Act which provides principal guidelines for the establishment and incorporation of the universities, jurisdiction, powers and functions of the universities, mechanism for appointment of Vice Chandler/Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Deans, constitutions of various governing bodies/authorities such as Senate, Syndicate and Academic Council, powers and functions of these bodies, affiliation/disaffiliation, functions of the key statutory officers and most importantly, it contains provisions for framing of Statutes, Regulations and Rules in order to regulate the official business of the universities. Any amendment in the Act follows the same procedure as that of its approval. Under the provision of the Act, Statutes and Regulations, Rules are formulated to help contour the academic, research, administrative, legal and financial business of the universities.

  1. Statutes

These are the by-laws enacted by the principal governing body to regulate the functioning of any organization. Statutes are made under the Act and need to be consistent with it. This refers to any positive enactment to which the state gives the force of a law irrespective of the fact as to whether it has gone through the usual legislative procedure or had been adopted in other words for expressing the will of the people.

In the public sector universities in Pakistan, Statutes are required to be recommended by the Syndicate and approved by the Senate. The matters in which Statutes are required to be framed are delineated in the Act and mainly encompass; the contents and the manner in which the annual report is to be presented to the Senate, the university fee structure and other charges, instituting pension, insurance, gratuity, provident fund and benevolent fund for the university employees, the pay scales and other terms and conditions of service of the employees, the terms and conditions of contract employees, the maintenance of the register of registered graduates, affiliation and disaffiliation of educational institutions, conduct of elections for the membership of various authorities, admission of educational institutions to the privileges of the university and the withdrawal of such privileges, the establishment of faculties, teaching departments, constituent institutes/colleges and other academic divisions, conditions for appointment of Professor Emeritus and Meritorious Professors, award of honorary degrees, constitution of emergency committee and efficiency and discipline of the university employees.

As stated earlier, the draft of the Statutes is supposed to be proposed by the Syndicate to the Senate which may approve it in toto or pass it with certain modifications or refer it back to the Syndicate for reconsideration. The procedure for adding to, amending or repealing a Statute is the same as ordained for framing or making it.

  1. Regulations

Subject to the provision of the university’s Act and Statutes, Regulations are explicated to regulate specifically the academic business in the universities. These are by-laws, designed with a view to govern academic matters in the universities as outlined in the Act mainly imbibe the affairs such as; design of the courses for degree programs, diplomas and certificates, the manner in which the teaching is to be organized and conducted, the admission, registration and expulsion of students, consideration under which students are admitted to the courses and become eligible for the award of degrees, conduct of examinations,  conditions under which a person may carry out independent research entitling him/her to a degree and the formation of faculties, teaching departments and Board of Studies/Faculties.

Regulations are rigid in nature and are required to be made in line with the provision of the Act and Statutes. These are proposed by the Board of Studies followed by the recommendations made by the Board of Faculty for submission to the Academic Council for final approval of the Syndicate. The Syndicate may approve or refer it back to the Council for reconsideration. Regulations proposed by the Academic Council used to be not effective unless these are finally approved by the Syndicate. The procedure for adding to, amending or repealing Regulation is exactly the same as outlined for formulating it.

  1. Rules

These are by-laws made to administer any financial, legal, administrative and service matter in the universities. Being a set of instructions, Rules outline the way in which the operational business of the universities is envisaged to be managed and executed. Rules used to be flexible and are framed as per requirement of the conditions and demand of the circumstances and are required to be made consistent with the Act, Statutes and Regulations. Rules can be proposed by any committee/forum for approval of the Syndicate and amendments in the same follow the same channel as that of its approval.

The authorities and other bodies of the university may make Rules, in line with the provisions of the Act, the Statutes and the Regulations in order to regularize conduct of their business and the time and venue of the meetings. The Syndicate may lead amendments or annulment of any Rules made by another authority or body except the Senate. The Syndicate may make Rules to oversee any matter pertaining to the affairs of the university which have not been specifically addressed by the Act, Statutes or Regulations.


Public sector universities in Pakistan operate under a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework comprising of Universities’ Acts enacted by provincial or federal governments, statutes, Regulations, and Rules approved by the relevant statutory bodies such as Senate, Syndicate, and Academic Council to run the operational business of the universities.

The overarching goal of this legal framework is to ensure effective governance, academic excellence, accountability, and autonomy in public sector universities while aligning with national priorities for higher education development and quality assurance.

These laws and by-laws define the establishment, governance structure, academic standards, administrative procedures and quality assurance mechanisms for universities. They establish governing bodies, such as the Senate, Syndicate, and Academic Council, and outline their functions and powers as well as rules of their business. Additionally, they regulate faculty and staff recruitment, appointments, promotions, and conduct, as well as student admissions, enrollment, academic conduct, examinations, and discipline.

In this blog post, various laws and by-laws prevailing in the public sector universities in Pakistan have been briefly discussed in order to broaden the understanding of academia, researchers, legal advisors, universities management, academic leaders, faculty and those who deal with statutory business in the universities about the subject matter.