The Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) Journalism and Mass Communication department has found its PhD programme under question.
According to officials from KUST, the academic council meeting held on July 13 approved a suspended MPhil programme in Journalism and Mass Communication despite the fact that not a single MPhil class had ever been taken by the department. The programme was also being run without a PhD-qualified teacher, which is a prerequisite set by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for an MPhil in any field. Furthermore, the programme did not have its curriculum approved since there is no record of a Board of Studies meeting on the subject.
Zahid Ehsas Khan, a former chairman of Journalism and Mass Communication at KUST said he wrote a letter in January 2010 to the KUST Academic Director stating that classes cannot continue without PhD experts and the programme should be abandoned as such. He claimed that the programme was rejected by the three consecutive meetings of the academic council, but Dr Shafiq Ahmad, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, adopted a unique procedure so the programme was approved at the time. Khan said that instead of assessing the issue, it was simply put to vote.
“Six members of the academic council opposed the programme, but six were in its favour. Zeeshan Bangash, acting director IT, changed his vote from ‘no’ to ‘yes’, thus paving the way for fake degrees to be approved.”
According to Khan, two of members of the academic council, who opposed the move, called the ‘show of hands’ procedure adopted for solving academic issues ‘weird and illogical’ and one that has never been adopted for solving academic problems. He informed that the current chairman of the Journalism and Mass Communication department actually belonged to the Islamiat department and was unaware about the field of journalism.
When contacted, KUST Journalism and Mass Communication department chairman Nadeem Akhtar said “I have only joined the department on July 20. I don’t know about this issue.”
The caretaker chairman of the department Dr Niaz Khan also claimed he was unaware about the issue and said that there was no such programme in the department.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.