LAHORE: The Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) formed another committee on Thursday to deliberate and find ways to curb the sale of degrees of higher education institutes and paid-for theses of MS and PhDs in the province.
The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) and the PHEC have already, in collaboration, formed a four-member committee to probe the matter and submit a report to the HEC within one month.
Separately, the PHEC has formed the 7-member committee tasked with engaging public and private higher educational institutions in the province and deliberate upon the matter.
The PHEC's internal committee consists of Dr Shahid Soroya as convener, Sidra Maqsood, Tahir Bashir, Syed Musa Hasan, Dr Shahbaz Hussain and Muhammad Luqman as members and Syed Khurram Abbas as secretary. The committee, through a notification issued by the PHEC, had been told to deliberate and arrange symposiums of all public and private sector universities of Punjab on quality of higher education.
The HEC has also notified a 4-member committee in collaboration with the PHEC to look into the issue and submit a report to the commission.
The committee consists of Lahore Leads University's Vice Chancellor Dr Muhammad Rafiq Baloch; Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology, Multan Vice Chancellor Dr Aamir Ijaz; University of Education, Lahore Vice Chancellor Dr Rauf-i-Azam and PHEC Director General Dr Shahid Soroya.
According to the terms of reference (TORs) of the HEC committee, the committee is to carry out an investigation into the matter of MPhil and PhD theses; it will meet and collect relevant information from departments concerned; look into policies and procedures followed by institutions for the award of MPhil and PhD degrees, including synopses and theses defense processes and research data record; and carry out any other activity it deems fit for the purpose.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Soroya, member of both committees, said that the HEC and PHEC would work jointly to resolve the issue. He said that vice chancellors of public and private universities would also be taken onboard and the probe would be initiated in the light of the letter written by the PPSC Chairman and Punjab Governor.
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He said that the PHEC had created an in-house committee which would take vice chancellors on-board.
The matter also came in discussion in a meeting held between PHEC Chairperson Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin and HEC Executive Director Dr Arshad Ali on Thursday at the HEC Secretariat, Islamabad. The issues discussed during the meeting covered the overall development of higher education sector in the country.
However, the issue of the sale of degrees and paid-for MS and PhD theses in Punjab dominated the discussion.
The revelations of paid-for MS and PhD theses were made by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), after it conducted interviews for assistant professors. The PPSC chairman in a letter identified the problem to the governor's secretariat.
The governor's secretariat has also sent a letter to universities, which stated, "He [PPSC Chairman] said that candidates with some exceptions, have a rather poor understanding of the subjects they have done their MPhil or Masters in.
By way of illustration, some of the candidates with MPhil degrees could not be able to elaborate or defend their written thesis for the degree obtained. It has been learnt that PhD and MPhil thesis on various topics could be purchased from various academies all over the country."
The letter further asks the universities to take notice of the matter and introduce appropriate checks to put a stop to it.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2018.
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