HEC formally allows PhD after 16 years education; academics term the policy ‘flawed’

Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman Tariq Banuri announced on Wednesday that HEC has introduced a new Ph.D. policy and has discontinued ‘MS/MPhil leading to PhD’ programmes. Here is all you need about the new policy and its possible implications.

Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman Tariq Banuri announced on Wednesday that HEC has introduced a new Ph.D. policy and has discontinued ‘MS/MPhil leading to PhD’ programs. “HEC has abolished the condition of having an MS or MPhil degree for admission to Ph.D.,” Tariq Banuri said while addressing a presser at the HEC office in Islamabad.

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.

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.

Read more: How to upgrade higher education in Pakistan?

“M.Phil program will become redundant which will be a great loss for the universities of Pakistan,” the FAPUASA president said. Through a statement, he said that research productivity will decline considerably.

“Masters and MPhil students are trained to undertake quality research work, reflected through their international research publications,” he said and added that Pakistani BS programs are not internationally recognized and virtually no student is admitted/funded for research programs in foreign universities. “With the undermining of Masters/MPhil programs, the number of Pakistani students in foreign universities will decrease drastically. This will put Pakistan at least 10 years backward, which is not best either,” read the statement of FAPUASA President.

There is a strong perception that the new policy is unlikely to yield any positive results in the field of higher education. Academics are of the view that BS students are generally not capable of pursuing a Ph.D. degree due to lack of technical and professional skills. “We are all set to let the world know our Ph.D. is not only academically compromised but also technically insignificant,” an academic told GVS



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