PhD Doctors Association President Dr Sher Afzal says universities not heeding to HEC directives

 

The efforts of Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan to address the issue of finding suitable jobs for unemployed PhDs have had some headway, with various universities now beginning to consider these scholars for vacant positions.

HEC has already uploaded CVs of unemployed PhDs on its website, and vice chancellors of various universities have expressed commitment to reviewing the uploaded credentials. Similarly, Shaheed Benezir Bhutto University Banazirabad administration has decided to offer jobs to 22 PhD scholars in relevant disciplines of the total 105 CVs that are available. More scholars are likely to find jobs as university administrations move ahead with their recruitment policies.

In this regard, HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri convened a meeting of all relevant Programme Coordinators at HEC to review the recommendations made by representatives of the unemployed PhDs. The meeting led to a number of decisions including:

  1. Launch of an exclusive research grant programme that will be open to unemployed PhDs on competitive basis. The applicants will have to affiliate themselves with a university on an honorary basis in order to apply for the grant.
  2. Establishment of a committee to be chaired by IBA Karachi Director Dr Farrukh Iqbal to undertake an in-depth analysis of teacher-student ratio in various programmes and recommend guidelines and standards for the enhancement of quality.
  3. Establishment of a committee to be chaired by IIU Islamabad Rector Prof Dr Masoom Yasinzai to review the practice of over-reliance on visiting faculty and recommend guidelines and standards to reinforce.
  4. Commissioning of a study on the employment trends in various disciplines in order to enable universities to focus their resources in fields where there is a high demand. In this regard, the HEC has already shared available information on unemployed PhDs with universities and, advised them not to launch programmes in areas where there is excess supply.
  5. HEC has already collected data on unemployed PhDs and has set a target date of January 31, 2019 for the launch of a consolidated Academic Jobs Portal.

The above decisions were made in response to a petition sent by representatives of unemployed PhDs following their meeting with the HEC chairman and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Naeemul Haq.

Little Progress

Talking to The Academia, PhD Doctors Association President Dr Sher Afzal Hashmi said that while HEC was doing all it could to resolve the issues of unemployed PhD holders, there was only so much that the commission could force the universities to do.

“We know that the administration of Benezir Bhutto University has agreed to consider some scholars for jobs, but that is where the feel-good news ends,” Dr Hashmi said. “The problem is that universities are ignoring HEC’s directions about hiring unemployed PhDs. The HEC chairman himself expressed frustration regarding the attitude of universities, telling us that they could not force a university to make inductions if the administration did not want to do it by itself.”

Asked about what his organization or he thought the HEC should do, Dr Hashmi said HEC had a number of options available to make universities, both public and private, to comply with its directives. “Everyone knows the state of faculty-student ratio in Pakistani universities. An ideal ratio is close to 1:18 or 1:20, but the ratio in Pakistani varsities is quite worse off. The only thing HEC has to do is blacklist the departments or universities that do not maintain a healthy faculty-student ratio, or simply refuse to attest the degrees of graduates of such universities that do not maintain benchmark faculty-student ratio.”

“The issue of unemployed PhDs will become a thing of the past if the universities are brought in line with such measures by HEC,” Dr Hashmi added.

In October, dozens of unemployed PhD holders concerned by joblessness gathered outside Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Banigala residence to protest the government’s failure to provide them with proper jobs. The PhD Doctors Association had put forth the following list of demands to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Naeemul Haq.

  • Cancel NOCs of all departments not operating according to minimum criteria regarding quality standards of higher education (or one month notice to university).
  • Formation of a task force for utilization of PhDs in non-teaching institutes. The task force will finalize its recommendations for implementation within one month.
  • Promotion of PhD degree holders who are working on BS-16, BS-17 and BS 18 to BS 19.
  • Minimum salary package in Private Universities must be equal to TTS salary.
  • Implementation of rules for the retired persons to not holding any administration post in private university.
  • Permanent hiring of all PhDs in the department where they served one year on IPFP contract.
  • Implementation of leave rules in private sector universities similar to public sector universities.

 

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