Renewed criteria for Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) chairmanship leaves scholars with PhD from Pakistan with little options

The Punjab Higher Education Department (HED) has publicized a renewed criteria for applying for the position of the next PHEC chairman, with fresh rules and regulations likely to leave many previously-eligible candidates out of the race for good.

The new criteria to hire the next PHEC chairman has been approved by the Punjab chief minister and scholars and academics having PhDs from Pakistan, and even abroad, have been left in a lurch. According to the new criteria, PhD has been made the basic necessity for the post and the hiring process has been split into two parts.

The first part of the process consists of 100 points and only candidates obtaining 75 points will be shortlisted for the interview. The second part is the interview that will be conducted by the Search Committee and also carries 100 points.

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The final decision will rest with the chief minister as the controlling authority of the commission and he will notify the final candidate. Per the criteria, the ideal candidate has been described as ”a person of eminence and proven ability, having at least a PhD degree or equivalent with significant contribution to higher education as teacher, researcher or administrator”.

The qualification section has been split into three components. The first is the academic qualification carrying 35 points, the second is the professional and leadership experience carrying a total 30 points, while the third and final is the publications’ section carrying 35 points.

Tough Calling

To qualify for the post, a candidate needs to have a PhD degree. But things get complicated from here onward. Per the instructions, the marks for PhD degrees in the first section of the qualifications’ section have been linked to the QS ranking of the university the candidate obtained his or her doctorate from. The criteria mentions that a PhD from among the top 100 QS ranked universities of the world will fetch a candidate full 35 points, while a doctorate from universities falling in the 101-300 band of QS rankings will get 33 points. A PhD from a university in the 301-500 ranking by QS will merit 31 points. Lastly, a PhD from an HEC recognized or UNESCO listed institution will get a candidate 29 points.

The new criteria is certain to leave many a candidates handicapped, as the latest available QS ranking is from 2019, and sadly, Pakistani universities’ performance therein has been not very encouraging.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2019, only seven Pakistani universities made it to the top 1,000 list, with only two making it among the top 500 – with Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS) at 397th position and National University of Science and Technology (NUST) at 417th spot position.

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This criteria will leave a majority of candidates who were previously eligible for such posts on the basis of their PhDs from Pakistani universities practically out of the race, or at least with a reasonable disadvantage.

In the category of professional and leadership experience for the next PHEC chairman, the candidates will be judged through experience in a senior academic, research or management leadership position in teaching/research institutions, and/or experience in a senior leadership position in a large public or private sector organization in roles such as DG, Director, CTO, CFO, COO, CEO or equivalent. This also includes working as a vice chancellor, pro VC, dean or equivalent position.

For the third category of publication, research articles, conference proceedings, books, book chapters and patents will be judged. The criteria document clarifies that only full-time teaching, administrative and management experience will be considered and additional charge will not be considered. The Search Committee has been empowered to examine and determine the validity of research articles, books or book chapters and has the power to appoint a Technical Review Committee for the purpose.

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