In a massive crackdown, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) has either halted or stopped further intake of students at 27 PhD degree and 33 MPhil/MS equivalent programmes at the biggest Public Sector University of the Province – the University of the Punjab (PU).

The decision came after a team nominated by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) of the HEC visited and checked different programmes at the PU. The HEC took the decision in light of the recommendations of the six-member team under the supervision of Dr Adnan Sarwar Khan. The HEC published a review report of the university’s PhD and MPhil/MS programmes.

According to the report, a copy of which is available with Academia Mag, 2,090 students are studying under 55 PhD programmes in different disciplines at the PU. Whereas, the number of PhD qualified faculty available at the varsity is 488. There are 5,598 students registered in 69 MPhil/MS programmes against MPhil/MS of 249.

The report said that under the HEC rules, a total of 27 PhD degrees and 33 MPhil/MS equivalent programmes have to be halted or to stop further enrolment of students. Out of these, 6 PhD and 7 MPhil/MS programmes are to be immediately halted. Whereas, the rest of the 21 PhD and 26 MPhil/MS programmes are to stop further intake immediately.

Halted vs. Further Intake Stopped

The report differentiates between the two categories and provides the following definitions for both categories:
Halted: “The University [sic] should halt all the activities of the program, including conduction of classes, examination, thesis defense, award of degrees etc. until HEC permits.”

Further Intake Stopped: “The University [sic] should not admit any scholar in the program until HEC permits. The program for enrolled student would run provided that other identified deficiencies are rectified.”

Minimum Requirements

The report further states that there was a requirement of appointing three full-time relevant PhD faculty members for launching a PhD programme and for the MPhil/MS or equivalent programmes, two full-time PhD holders with relevant degrees were required. The report says, “Till satisfying the minimum criteria of launching the MPhil/MS and PhD programmes, all such programmes should be halted with immediate effect”.

Findings

According to the findings of the report, it was found that the required documentation was poorly managed and data was not provided from different departments to the HEC officials even after repeated calls. The report said that students were being supervised by supervisor from other departments, having different specializations. Furthermore, it said that courses that were being taught at MPhil-level programmes were not consistent and not per the approved codes of the Academic Council.

The committee also found that the student-teacher ratio in many programmes was not followed as per the limit prescribed by the HEC and there was a large number of enrolment in many programmes where enough PhD faculty was not available.

The report said that the minimum and maximum duration of graduate-level programmes, as per HEC guidelines, was not being followed. Whereas, during interaction with students, the committee found that students had to wait for a long time for allocation of supervisors after completing their coursework. Moreover, it was found that students had to wait for their dissertation defense after submission of their theses. The committee also found that at PU, after the completion of coursework the rule of PhD students appearing in comprehensive examination within a month was not being followed in most of the cases.



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