I WANT to draw the attention of academicians, policymakers and the Higher Education Commission towards a genuine obstacle in higher education. In order to raise the number of PhDs, the HEC had reshaped the MPhil and PhD programmes, imposing some conditions, including aptitude tests and course work.
Some public sector universities and all universities of the private sector had adopted this programme. But some public sector universities have refused to implement it. The University of Karachi, which is one of the largest public sector universities of the country, is one of them.
In this regard, the University of Karachi statuary bodies and teacher community opposed such decisions, arguing that university is incapable to run such programmes due to inappropriate infrastructure, insufficient funds and shortage of PhD faculty.
But administration had started it on ad hoc basis. After one year of getting the experience, the University of Karachi syndicate took some decisions about the programme including aptitude test to be conducted by the university itself, formation of departmental research committees (DRC). Now it has been decided to exempt the university teachers from entrance test.
My concern is about the entrance test which can never be a benchmark for examining the research capability and analytical approach of a student. Before this MS/PhD programme, universities were producing PhDs but the criteria were different as candidates were allowed to submit research proposal to supervisor. The research synopsis was much better measure to judge the research abilities of someone rather than relying on memory based aptitude test.
Another fundamental flaw in this test is that it is divided into two portions; 80 per cent is subject-based and remaining 20 per cent is for judging English proficiency.
A student will be considered failed in test if he does not pass the English test, although if he gets 100 per cent marks in the subject portion. Is there any justification for this academic injustice with a student who wants to pursue his research in any discipline of social science and is legally allowed to right his dissertation in Urdu or in any other medium?
All universities should restore the old system of MPhil and PhD, including some courses. Higher education is going to devolve and the formation of provincial HECs is under process. Now it is the responsibility of academia to take a stance against such impositions of provincial HECs.
M. ZUBAIR CHAUDHRY Karachi