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HEC likely to miss target of producing 10,000 PhDs under US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor Project

By Bilal Naveed

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to miss the target of producing 10,000 PhDs by 2025 under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor Project due to high tuition fee in American universities, tortoise speed and procedural delays on part of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan.

The Phase-I PhD Scholarship Programme was announced in 2017 to send 1500 students in US universities, however, only 200 Pakistani scholars were sent to US in 2017. While in 2018 only 300 scholars went to US universities under this programme.

Recently, the Commission is working on the Phase-III applications for PhD scholarships in various fields for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 session. The higher tuition fee in US universities not being covered in this scholarship is the prime hurdle in the success of this programme.

PhD scholars while talking to The Educationist said, “HEC offers scholarship without tuition fee. The tuition fee is very high in the expensive US universities.” Students who get the scholarship will get the support from the HEC, like monthly living allowances, health insurance, initial settlement allowance and a single return ticket for a 5-year period.

The project was established in June 2015 as a result of the US-Pakistan Education, Science and Technology Working Group (ESTWG) under the bilateral strategic dialogue to significantly increase the number and quality of faculty in country’s higher education institutions. The aim of the project was to provide opportunities for 10,000 Pakistani scholars by 2025 in 10 years’ programme for doctoral studies in various subjects from top 200 US universities.  

HEC Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri has said that the Commission wanted to enhance the number of PhD faculty across the country, as only a quarter of the working faculty in Pakistani universities have doctorate degrees. He praised the support and cooperation of US universities in promoting higher education and research culture in Pakistan.

He was addressing a meeting also attended by US Embassy Deputy Cultural Affairs Attache Tony Jones, organized at HEC in collaboration with the US Embassy and the United States Education Foundation of Pakistan (USEFP).

HEC Chairman Tariq Banuri discussed the potential admissions of Pakistani students in US under the US-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor project. Admission directors of 10 US universities’, New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, Ohio University, Indiana University Bloomington, University of Colorado Boulder, Boise State University, Florida International University, New York Institute of Technology, Youngstown State University, Kent State University and Kansas State University were also presented on the occasion.

Pakistani academia and PhD scholars believe that the projects would fail to achieve the target if its speed remains the same. They have also demanded the stakeholders at HEC and US Embassy to include tuition fee in this project to get the desired results and make this programme successful in real sense.

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