Students of various universities pursuing their M Phil and PhD are being forced by the respective varsity administrations to either quit their jobs or return the laptops given to them under the Prime Minister’s progamme through the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
Students pursuing M Phil and PhD at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Sukkur, and Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU), Khairpur, told The Express Tribune that the laptops were given to them under the Prime Minister’s programme as assistance in research work. The students, however, requested not to publish their names as they feared disciplinary action by the administration.
Most parents of these students cannot afford to pay the heavy fees and they are therefore forced to undertake odd jobs to meet their expenses. The average fee per semester is Rs70,000 at Sukkur IBA let alone other expenses. The varsity, meanwhile, has only reimbursed Rs24,000 under the fee reimbursement programme.
At the time of admissions, said the students, there were no conditions set before them with regards to part time jobs, nor were they asked to submit an affidavit in this regard. They added that many of their peers had been forced to quit their studies due to these unjust demands, adding that most of them had not been doing jobs before admissions in the university.
On the other hand, a senior officer at the HEC argued that M Phil and PhD degrees were research-oriented and it was therefore impractical for the students to do jobs at the same time. “How is it possible for a researcher to give full attention to their studies when they are doing a job at the same time?” he asked. The officer explained that distributing laptops to students was an incentive by the government to facilitate them in research work. “Students who are working can easily afford laptops,” he reasoned. The officer agreed, however, that the fault lay with the varsities’ administrations who had given the laptops to students who were already working.
For his part, SALU’s media coordinator Dr Taj Lashari told The Express Tribune that several students had revealed that they were working at the time of admissions but they were still given laptops. He added that they had recently received instructions from the HEC not to give laptops to students who were working. They had therefore asked the students to quit their job or return the laptop.
Sukkur IBA director Nisar Ahmed Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that at the time of admissions, the students had not declared their jobs and were therefore given laptops as per the rules. He added that they had now been asked to either quit their jobs or deposit Rs70,000 if they wanted to keep the laptop.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2014.