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HEC New PhD policy invites criticism

BS based PhD admission policy applicable from Jan 01, 2021: Banuri

Academic circles criticise HEC new policy

M Sharif Rana

ISLAMABAD (Wednesday, January 21, 2021): The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has announced to implement its new policy regarding BS based admission to PhD programmes from Junuary 01, 2021 while giving options to the universities to either continue with MPhil or MS based admission to doctorate degree programmes or start BS-based admissions with “may be” increased credit hours. 

HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri Wednesday said that the universities must be committed to produce qualified graduates, whose overall level of knowledge and competence is up to the mark. In press conference, he said that the professional accreditation councils are being strengthened to improve the quality of disciplinary education. “Our intention is to improve the quality of our graduates and the confidence of employers in the worth of our degrees.”

Elaborating the new PhD Policy, Mr. Banuri said that it has been upgraded in line with the international best practices and is applicable from 1st January, 2021. He said that the BS graduates can now directly take admission in PhD programmes and in a different discipline if universities find them ‘prepared’ and ‘committed’.

The HEC chairman said that preparedness means that the students have enough knowledge, competence, and previous academic training enabling them to succeed in a PhD programme. “The universities will also assess the applicants’ commitment to the discipline,” he added.

Apart from the admission criteria, the PhD students will have to go through a thorough evaluation before they complete their studies. Likewise, the teaching and mentoring system has also been reorganized on the pattern of ancient Sufi episteme, so that students may better benefit from their teachers and mentors.

Universities’ faculty members and teachers associations have planned to launch formal campaigns against the new policy.            

He said that the universities may choose to have BS or MS/MPhil as the minimum criteria for admissions, however, the minimum requirement for admission in PhD programmes is a BS degree. If the PhD students come directly from BS programmes, they may be required to complete a larger number of credit hours compared to those who have previously completed MS/MPhil degrees.

The policy requires the scholars to study 50 per cent of courses in the university that covers two years in residence, so that the students can closely interact with their supervisors. The Chairman informed the media that the two policies were formulated after thorough deliberations and consultations with the relevant stakeholders including Vice Chancellors, professors, and educationists.

Meanwhile, the academic circles have started criticizing the HEC new policy, its ambiguities attached to it, while terming the new announcement as a ‘hasty action’. Many faculty members have raised their serious concerns. Dr. Shabbir Ahmad, a faculty member at Punjab University Department of Political Science, opined that the new policy aimed at producing more number of PhDs would destory the higher education system of country. He said the decision taken in haste would cost sudden decline of the PhD quality.

Universities’ faculty members and teachers associations have planned to launched fomral campaigns against the new policy.            

While taking to The Educationst university students questioned that the policy  does not clarify whether students who have passed M.A/ M.Sc degrees are eligible for PhD admission because they are otherwise considered equivalent to BS programmes.

Many BS graduates who have recently taken admission to various MPhil programmes have planned to quit MPhil degree to directly take admission to PhD programmes. They have also demanded the universities administrations to offer fresh PhD admissions in line with the new policy of HEC.  

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