KARACHI: I want to draw the attention of policymakers and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) towards a serious obstacle in acquiring higher education. In order to increase the number of PhDs, the HEC has reshaped the PhD programme by imposing certain conditions, including making candidates sit for aptitude tests.
My concern about the entrance test requirement is that such tests can never be a benchmark for examining the research capability and analytical approach of a student. Before these changes were instituted, the criteria to judge PhD candidates consisted of the research proposals they submitted to their supervisors, which was a much better measure to judge their research capabilities than a memory-based aptitude test.
Another fundamental flaw in the aptitude tests that are being taken is that they are divided into two portions with 80 per cent of the questions based on the relevant subject that the candidate wishes to specialise in and the remaining 20 per cent of the questions testing the student’s English. If a student does not pass the portion that tests his English, he would be deemed to have failed the entire test, even if he has scored 100 per cent marks in the section testing him in his area of specialisation. Is there any justification for this injustice? A student may want to pursue his research in any discipline and is legally allowed to write his dissertation in Urdu or in any other language.
In my opinion, universities should restore the old system of awarding PhD degrees. It is the responsibility of the Pakistani academics to take a strict stance against such impositions.
M Zubair chaudhry
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.
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