PhD scholars abroad

21 Oct 2020


THIS is with reference to the news report ‘82 scholars sent abroad for PhD skip return’ (Sept 11). The sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly was informed that out of over 130 students sent abroad for PhD, 82 had not bothered to return after completing their studies, and a further 52 had failed to get their degrees.

This is, indeed, a double-edged sword. If you don’t send scholars abroad to study, the country’s academic status suffers in the comity of nations, and if you do send them, the ‘PhDs’ prefer to stay abroad rather than get back home.

The authorities need to come up with a method whereby scholars are allowed to go abroad for PhD studies and the nation also gets to reap the benefit of their advanced scholastic capabilities.

The federal government in consultation with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should select only those foreign universities for this venture that agree to issue ‘conditional’ PhD qualifications to Pakistani scholars. If they return to Pakistan and serve here for 10 years, the conditional PhD qualification should be confirmed as ‘permanent’.

Those who decide to stay abroad must repatriate in foreign currency to the federal government all the expenses incurred in their respective cases.

In addition, a local personal guarantee or bond should be obtained from each intending PhD or MPhil candidate before they proceed abroad.

The other matter of concern relates to the 52 failed candidates. The PhD/MPhil selection criteria must be further honed, selecting the best and the brightest after a detailed process.

Abbas R. Siddiqi

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2020