Osama Aziz, who holds a doctorate in jurisprudence, has replaced Mohammad Ashraf Ghairat, a religious school graduate, as chancellor of Kabul University.

When the Taliban appointed their own candidate as chancellor of Afghanistan's prominent Kabul University in September, the decision caused widespread criticism and opposition from students and academics.

About 70 staff members, including professors, of the Kabul University, resigned when the PhD holder Chancellor Muhammad Osman Baburi was replaced with Muhammad Ashraf Ghairat, a journalism graduate from the same university. Critics argued that more eligible people were than him in the country to be appointed for this role.

Baburi willingly handed over the position to Ghairat and now lives in Germany.

In a month's time, the Taliban silently backtracked on their decision.

Dr Osama Aziz, who holds a bachelors degree in Islamic Law (also known as Sharia law), masters in Islamic Commercial Law and a PhD in Islamic Jurisprudence, has been appointed by the Taliban as the new chancellor of the university.  

He was introduced to the faculty and deans last week at the campus in the capital city. 

According to sources close to him, Aziz comes from Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar and belongs to "a well-educated family" and is an "Islamic modernist".

"I think the new chancellor of Kabul University is in favour of women's education but the Taliban government's policy will not allow co-education," Abdullah Saeed, who works as a senior technical manager at the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan, and went to university with Aziz, told TRT World. 

"They are trying to have separate classes for men and women in two shifts, one in the morning and one in the evening."

When the Taliban took over the capital in August, the armed group banned women from teaching or studying at public universities until they could be segregated from men.

At Kabul University, classes have been suspended for men and women while staff and professors have not been paid for months.

A member of the staff at Kabul University who does not wish to be named believes the new appointment will not change the current situation that has demoralised tens of thousands of students at public universities, who are staying at home because their schools are closed.

Afghan women activists said they were declaring Sunday (October 10) the
Afghan women activists said they were declaring Sunday (October 10) the "International Day of Women's Solidarity with Afghan Women", urging women to rally for the rights of Afghan women (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters)

He said Aziz's vision is the "Islamisation of Kabul University".

"He will change the curriculum and include a lot of Islamic subjects instead of modern science," he said. 

"They have problem with girls education and will have separate classes," he added. 

What is a chancellor's duty?

The chancellor is the principal academic and is the chief executive officer of the university. He is responsible for the management and development of the university. 

"Among the main tasks of the chancellor is to represent the university, both within Afghanistan and overseas. And to secure a financial base sufficient to allow the delivery of the university's mission, aims and objectives," Saeed, a senior technical manager at the Ministry of Higher Education of Afghanistan, told TRT World.

When it was last in power from 1996-2001, the Taliban banned all girls from school and women from employment.

Despite billions of dollars spent on foreign aid to promote women's education, equality, and civil rights, Afghan society continues to remain conservative.

Abdul Baqi Haqqani, who has been appointed as the acting minister of higher education by the Taliban, said last month that public universities in Afghanistan would soon reopen in the country.

Baqi Haqqani had earlier stated that women have the right to study, but they will study in separate classrooms to male students.

Haqqani is a senior Taliban leader, under sanctions from the UN, who held multiple positions under the first Taliban regime in the 1990s. 

"More than ever, higher education institutions must think globally. This will impact how universities operate in the longer term," Saeed said.

"But our new leadership in the current system do not have this mentality."

Source: TRT World