The Higher Education Commission (HEC) launched National Research Program for Universities (NRPU) with the purpose to give the researchers financial support for their research pursuits to make the research work marketable that would benefit the economy and community.
In an interview to a local newspaper, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed praised the government for its two-year continuous support to HEC funding. He admitted that more than Rs72 billion budget and another Rs7 billion development grant for completion of projects that were pending due to lack of funds in previous years had been allocated. So, where are the fruits of these research projects and according to the worldwide Scientific Journal Ranking (SJR), Pakistan is still on 43rd rank for the last three years, while funding to HEC by the government is increasing. On the other hand, India is promoted to the sixth rank from the previous seventh position, while Saudi Arabia moved to the 35th position from its previous 43rd during the same period.
Research is considered a tool that developed societies and is citied in future work related to that particular field of work, but where is quality research in Pakistan? Research work is only produced for increments and promotions and not for the betterment of masses. In Pakistan, hundreds of people earn PhD degrees every year. An increase of more than 100 research work is produced alone in just the Punjab University, but still there are no new thoughts and discoveries which could benefit the society. There is a shortage of applied research. In my opinion, only productive studies should be encouraged and the HEC should also arrange national-level conferences annually to identify priority research areas in different regions of the country.
On the other hand, the HEC policy for MPhil and PhD programmes at universities of a minimum of three regular full-time PhDs should be imposed strictly, moreover it should be mandatory that these teachers limit their work to their relevant subjects.
It has also been observed that many private universities discourage students from selecting research work (thesis) and ask students to pay more fees and choose two more subjects instead of thesis for MPhil studies.
Research should be made compulsory for MPhil students taking admission in PhDs to discourage this practice. The HEC should take a closer look at what private universities are doing and, if necessary, shut down some for this practice, which is bringing down the quality of research and even endangering the research culture.
(The writer is MPhil scholar of media studies at University of Management and Technology and can be reached at: [email protected])