The future of over 300 PhD and MPhil students at the University of Haripur (UOH) hangs in the balance as the degree-awarding process has been repeatedly delayed in the absence of statutes, insiders told The Express Tribune.
According to official sources, most of these students have completed their coursework and research while others have submitted their theses but have not been awarded their degrees.
Dr Nasir Ali Khan, the vice chancellor of UoH, confirmed a 19-member university senate has been operational but without regulations, the Advance Studies & Research Board (ASRB), selection committee and academic council are not functional.
The ASRB is meant to accept and approve students’ research proposals, appoint their supervisors or approve degrees. At least 15 PhD students started their research work based on provisional approval and submitted their theses but have not been accepted.
Unless statutes are approved by the chancellor—an office held by the governor—degrees cannot be awarded, added Khan.
Khan has written to the chancellor twice and urged the minister for higher education to take prompt action. However, they have yet to set a date for a meeting to discuss the matter. As a result, no new universities in the province have formulated statutory bodies.
In the absence of a statutory mechanism, the university has denied admissions to fresh candidates interested in pursuing advanced studies over the last two years.
“The UOH is in fact a college-level institution that is offering just bachelor’s level courses rather than advanced-level courses for which it was established,” said a faculty member at UOH.
In the lurch
Khan added another problem with awarding degrees is that most research students had not met the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) requirement of passing the Graduate Assessment Test (GAT) prior to being admitted to university. Khan said research students who had been registered before he seized the reins were allowed to continue their studies but were told they will only obtain their degree after they sit the GAT.
Earlier, in May 2013, the administration declared the admissions of over 220 students null and void and stopped them from appearing in exams until they passed the GAT. Students protested and also took the matter to court. The court allowed students to continue their studies but also told them to sit for the GAT.
Moreover, faculty members and clerical staff who have been hired on a contractual basis over the last two years were employed on purely political grounds, said insiders. Those familiar with the matter claim 80% of employees have been hired through this arrangement.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2014.