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194 out of 500 PhD candidates sent abroad by HEC never returned, report

According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), it takes approximately Rs8 million to Rs10 million to spend on a Ph.D. candidate. The report also revealed that more than 304 persons have failed to get Ph.D. degrees after being sent abroad.

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The official records have revealed that the national exchequer suffered a huge financial loss from the foreign Ph.D. program of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), local media reported on Wednesday. 194 out of 500 scholars sent abroad for doctorate studies have skipped returning to the country nor returned the funds, the official documents of HEC revealed.

It stated that the national exchequer suffered a huge financial loss of over Rs1 billion as many of the scholars sent to the United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), Canada, Germany and Australia skipped return.

Moreover, 304 persons have failed to get Ph.D. degrees after being sent abroad, said the documents.

According to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), it takes approximately Rs8 million to  Rs10 million to spend on a professor holding Ph.D. degree.

However, the overall financial loss soared to around Rs3 billion to the national exchequer due to those who have never returned to the country or failed to complete their studies.

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It further stated that only one out of 500 scholars has returned the funds spent on the PhD studies, whereas, the commission registered cases against others that are being heard by the courts.

Following the major setback, the HEC authorities have decided to bring further improvements in the foreign PhD programme.

HEC introduced new policy for PhD

The HEC has announced to implement its new Ph.D. admission policy from Jan 1st, 2021. The policy has been termed as “flawed” and “directionless” by academics and policy experts.  Notably, the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) has categorically “rejected” the proposed policy.

Currently, a one-year master’s degree after 16-year of schooling is the minimum requirement for direct admissions to Ph.D. However, according to the new proposed policy, a BS degree, or equivalent, will be the minimum criteria for Ph.D. admission.

In the new proposed policy, Ph.D. should be completed not earlier than 3 years and not later than eight years after enrollment.  Similarly, the proposed policy said the previous qualification in the same discipline shall not be required for admission to Ph.D. program.

According to the new policy, Ph.D. students are required to complete the coursework spanning at least two years, or at least 30 credit hours. Currently, 18 credit hours are required.

The elected body of university teachers said: ““We reject HEC revised Ph.D. admission policy.” Through a statement, President FAPUASA Dr Sohail Yousaf announced to resist such unilateral policies of the current administration of HEC with full zeal and decided to launch a countrywide protest against HEC administration if the reservations are not addressed immediately.

Read more: How to upgrade higher education in Pakistan?

He said the HEC had made recommendations without taking higher education institutions and academia on board. “The HEC has recommended some drastic changes. The policy suggests allowing direct admission to the Ph.D. program after undergraduate degree (16 Years),” he said and added that this step will have a negative effect on the postgraduate programs of the universities in Pakistan.

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