A number of MPhil and PhD courses are banned for not fulfilling criteriaOnly quality research journals would be allowed to continue
Interview Panel: Shabbir Sarwar, AR Sajid & Ali Arshad
The Educationist: Some universities charge extra fee for thesis evaluation and students themselves send thesis for evaluation at their own cost. What’s your take on that?
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: Once students have been charged fees by universities, they need not to ask for more. Adequate funds are available with universities so they should facilitate students in this matter. Further, thesis are sent confidentially and this can’t happen. If some VC is not maintaining secrecy, he/she will be taken to task.
The Educationist: Another proposal that is in Punjab that the PhDs should be squeezed. Most of the PhDs are being done in Arts category. The PhDs in Social Sciences and Natural Sciences should be given more space. We need 36,000 PhDs right now.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: Students who are studying on their own expenses, we can’t ask them not to. However, the scholarships that are being given should be selective. They should be given in the fields that we need the most. We’ve been giving open scholarships in the beginning but now we have to select the most needed fields. Government or Public money should be spent for those fields in which there would be hope which is needed in future. We do need a handsome number of PhDs.
The Educationist: In several Universities, people who are linked with media are more influential, sometimes they provide guideline to administration and VCs, that also creates pressure. What’s your opinion on that?
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: Any influence that deprives you from your merit is wrong, either it belongs to media, government, political parties or friends. The pressure that resists or deviates you to fulfil your responsibility to the merit is the wrong pressure.
The Educationist: The merit criteria which is 70% seems tougher and most of the students are not able to qualify. In Punjab University only four students have qualified and in Open University only 1 student has succeeded to pass the entry test. Don’t you think this may decrease the number of PhDs in Pakistan.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: I say if it’s not the quality stuff then we don’t even need a single one. I have increased the MPhil-PhDs to 450. I’m not proud that I did it, more doors should be made but if you don’t make a merit or won’t see the quality. This is not appreciable. Starting from Al-Khair University to Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamic University, Faisalabad University. I have banned the PhDs. If Universities won’t provide us with quality we won’t do any mercy.
The Educationist: Quaid-e-Azam University can also produce a good effect on our position as it is in top 500 Universities.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: Unfortunately, the politics that have started there, I doubt that they won’t be able to maintain it for so long. There are several Universities that have secured position in the top 100 Universities.
The Educationist: PHEC have selected 5-7 Universities from Punjab and he’s preparing them.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: It’s a fake process.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: It’s an aid. Government does not give a 100%, they don’t agree to it, otherwise they would’ve done it themselves. These people receive their income. They collect all the money to create a budget. Now creating and fixing a priority of a budget is their duty, it’s not like they can buy themselves a car or take other advantages but when it comes to education then they don’t have it anymore. Why the government will be giving money when it’s being given the proper share.
The Educationist: Regarding journals, subject like Social Sciences, they don’t have any W or X, even Y is also no more present. Students are not left with anything.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: I will definitely do it. They have to earn the category. I can’t be giving them these on my own. There is a standard made by world, meet those standards, we are providing funds. We have cancelled many journals of universities because they didn’t have what it takes. We have rejected several journals of very efficient universities.
The Educationist: Students are facing the problems.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: Each university should start its own journals. Universities need to improve their basic skills first in producing their own journals, I also offered my assistance in this regard. One can’t just publish his own stuff. It will never be able to upgrade if it continues to be like this. We can’t just hand over them the money. They need to open it up to the International Committee. I can’t compromise on quality. If one does not improve it then they, themselves, will be responsible for their rejection. We’ll hire people from outside the circle. If one’s going to do it, then do it rightly.
The Educationist: HEC should ask universities about the investment. It should be standardized.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: If the universities are asked about the investments then HEC is accused of interference. Chairman HEC is blamed to be the one interfering. Universities say that this does not relate to the HEC.
The Educationist: There is funding but when it comes to our national and social problems. We look outside the circle for the solution, like the problem of electricity, we ask outsiders to help us with it.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: The thing is that we’ll have to trust each other, our own people. We have expertise, we’ll have to line down the policies with our universities. Universities need to work according to that standard and give it to the policy makers so that they may work upon it. It is being practiced around the world. According to one’s own dynamics, take the data and perform a proper research on it. This needs to be done. This culture is developing but we need to take it slowly, we need not to rush. Why don’t we build? Why don’t we continue the work that has already been done by the previous person? why first destroy the ones before you and start over? I, myself, did this. I continued with the work of the previous person on this seat.
The Educationist: As the private graduation is being ended, how financially weak students will be able to study?
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: The issue is PR. It is government based. We are sponsoring thousands of students with fee investments. What’s the worth or benefit of the education that one did 4 masters and can’t even find a job of a salary more than 10,000. This is why we are providing them with fee.
The Educationist: The system should be modified.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: There is modification. The 4-year program that we have launched, we have introduced an exit after 2 years of education, they may leave after 2 years with an associate degree, then they may join again if they want to. We are doing it for the betterment of the system. It was finalized in 2006. Otherwise, what would be the difference between the two students among which one has studied for the complete 2 years and one has just studied for a week and paid the double fees and gave the exam.
The Educationist: The exam paper should be made to discriminate between them.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: It is the same thing. We don’t chop off the head when we have the headache. It’s the wrong approach. Individuals are not that much important. We should work for the betterment.
The Educationist: Why don’t thesis, ECAT, MDCAT fall in the category of ETC? One is being exercised on 29th October. Why don’t we just cancel the test? The students have gone through enough tests already.
Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad: How will you be able to equalize then? If a student obtains 950 and another obtains 700, both out of 1000, how will you equalize between them? I also proposed a solution for that if the examination system of the Cambridge Board can take examinations world-wide then why Pakistan Board can’t take the test of whole Pakistan. There should be an International setup. Boards are just competing in terms that who will gain more A grades where the actual focus should be on the quality. The boards should be standardized. Even if check it from 2 different ways, the results should be the same. If they are not, then there is some flaws in it. It needs uniform