My PhD is in jeopardy

Published: April 6, 2011

CHICAGO, US: I am a master’s student in the history department at the University of Chicago. My plans for pursuing higher education have been seriously affected by the government’s decision to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and to suspend all new scholarships.

I was awarded a scholarship by HEC in July 2010, for pursuing Masters and PHD degrees in History. Due to the devastating floods, the government decided to suspend the scholarships to face this unprecedented disaster. We were told that the funding will resume at a future date when the organisation has more funds available.

I started my master’s by acquiring loans and by taking up a job at the university. A few weeks ago, I received the good news that the HEC had acquired the necessary to resume our scholarships from April. I officially accepted the offer and completed the paperwork, only to find out that new hurdles had been placed in our way. I recently received an email from the HEC stating that all scholarships had been put on hold. The reason was the government’s decision to devolve the organisation and the concurrent annulling of contracts between the HEC and its international donors.

This decision has come as a shock for me. Not only are my plans for pursuing a PhD in jeopardy, but I am also unsure about completing my Masters since the HEC had guaranteed me that they will pay for my last quarter at the University.

I am not sure what the actual motive is, but I am certain that this move will have severe repercussions for higher education in the country. For the past six decades, Pakistan has been unable to produce quality scholars, or facilitate the production of scholarly knowledge in our academia. Over the past few years, however, there had been a major shift as many young scholars received an opportunity through the HEC to pursue higher education abroad. This created a historic opportunity for the establishment of a vibrant academic community in the country as dozens of scholars began returning to Pakistan to teach at public universities. Unfortunately, this ill-informed step by the government will prevent the realisation of this potential.

When we signed our contracts with the HEC, we were asked to guarantee that we will return to the country once we complete our education. We were ready to keep our part of the commitment; why cannot the government keep its part?

Ammar Jan

University of Chicago

Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2011.

Reader Comments (4)

  • Muhamed Khanzada
    Apr 7, 2011 - 12:21AM

    Dawn has reported that hed will be not affected,pl contact your source.Recommend

  • Apr 7, 2011 - 12:24AM

    Dawn has reported that hed will be not effected,pl contact your source before making any major decision Recommend

  • Karim Khan
    Apr 8, 2011 - 7:34AM

    Your PhD is not more important than the mandate of 17 hundred million people in this country. We need to save Pakisatn not add degree holders. 40 perect of our population lives in severe poverty. Who gave HEC the right to lavishly spend billions by sending students abroad. You should get a Master degree in yoru country and serve here. Let those millions and millions of money being wasted on producing useless PhDs on better things in the interest of the nation. Recommend

  • ayesha
    Apr 12, 2011 - 11:17AM

    Dear Mr.Karim,

    It seems you don’t realize that Education is not the expenditure or liablitity to any nation , it is the investment that one make to build knowledge based economy. From your email it seems that you have some kind of personal grudge against HEC . Do you know that there is a direct correlation between poverty reduction and the education ? It is rather unfortunate that people like you give statements which are not even half truth.
    there is an old saying that if you think education is expensive then try ignorance.

    Ayesha Recommend

More in Letters