The Higher Education Commission (HEC) evaluation committee has suggested the suspension of 34 MPhil/MS and PhD programmes taught at Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB) after coming across “enormous level of deficiencies”.

According to documents, a seven-member HEC review committee headed by Shah Abdul Latif University Pro Vice-Chancellor Dr Yousuf Khushk accessed a total of 73 MPhil/MS and PhD degree programmes out of which eight programmes were suggested to be halted completely, while 26 others were given the status of “stopping further intake”.

Other members of the review committee included Dr Adnan Sarwar Khan from the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Dr Bushra Mirza from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Dr Farman Ullah from Agriculture University, Peshawar, Dr Farooq e Azam Cheema from Bahria University, Karachi, Dr Muhammad Ramzan from University of Central Punjab, Lahore, and Muhammad Ali Baig from HEC.

The halted MPhil/MS degree programmes included history, Islamic studies and Pakistan studies. Similarly, 17 MPhil/MS degree for which further admissions were halted included applied psychology, biotechnology, botany, chemistry, computer science, computer system engineering, economics, English literature, English linguistics, Islamic studies, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology, pharmacy practice, Urdu, Iqbaliat, wildlife and zoology.

Moreover, further intake was stopped for PhD degree programmes in disciplines including Arabic, botany, computer science, Islamic studies, mathematics, media sciences, pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmaceutics. Similarly, the committee recommended complete suspension of PhD programmes in biochemistry, history, Islamic studies, Pakistan studies and pharmacology.

According to the report compiled by the committee, majority of the halted programmes had a shortage of specialised faculty members, while those who were performing their duties lacked experience. The committee also suggested halting further intake on excessive student enrolment grounds.

As per the HEC rules, the appointment of at least three full-time relevant PhD faculty members was compulsory to launch a PhD programme and at least two full-time relevant PhD holders for launching an MPhil/MS/equivalent programme. Surprisingly, despite more than a few pointed loopholes, the IUB has announced admission intake for the new semester.

According to the committee report, IUB had 35 PhD programmes with an enrolment of 846 PhD students, while there were 48 MPhil/MS/Equivalent programmes with enrolment of 1,983 students. For these academic programmes, the IUB had 230 PhD qualified faculty members and 52 MPhil/MS/equivalent faculty members.

The committee in the report suggested the university to immediately cancel fresh admissions in the halted programmes and fee must be returned to all the students affected by this action. However, according to sources, the varsity has failed in complying with the committee recommendations yet.

The committee also recommended that the HEC library usage should be encouraged by organising orientation seminars for teachers and students and an entry test/admission committee at the university level must be formulated with intimation to the HEC, as per the HEC guidelines.

According to IUB spokesperson Shahzad Ahmed Khalid, the internal committees of the varsity were working to mend the loophole pinpointed by the committee. “We have recently advertised over 100 vacancies to meet faculty shortage. The university will definitely fulfill deficiencies in pointed departments and then announce admissions.”

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