–HEC fails to implement its own regulations as several positions in public sector universities still vacant
ISLAMABAD: In utter disappointment, the young jobless PhDs degree holders appealed to the chief justice to take sou moto notice after the failure of Higher Education Commission (HEC) to honour its commitment of providing ‘respectable’ jobs.
In their request, a number of PhD holders complained to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar that the lack of jobs has caused brain drain and frustration among the educated scholars in the country.
The Quality of Assurance of Department (QAD) of the HEC has a formula of 1:20 (one teacher and 20 students), 3 regulars PhDs for MSc and MPhil programme while senior PhD faculty members for PhDs and MPhil research students in any department of a Pakistani university.
However, a number of universities have not fulfilled the set criteria apart from the negligence of the HEC to implement its rules and regulation. The public sector universities have a capacity to hire around 10,000 PhDs, however, a number of positions remain vacated.
The young jobless PhD degree holders told Pakistan Today that the HEC offered Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs (IPFP) as an assistant professor for one year on contract in multiple universities. According to this contract, the universities are bound to advertise seats for the candidates hired on the IPFP within one year to regularise them through competition if any.
However, they said that after appointment on the IPFP, the candidates are on the mercy of the universities which exploit these PhDs. The universities use delaying tactics in the selection boards, offer them visiting or adhoc basis extensions and DPL with very low wages without regularising them, they alleged.
The PhD degree holders lamented that due to such an approach adopted by the authority, not only their precious time has been wasted but they are also facing financial and services loss and family sufferings, as even universities are taking masters qualification candidates as lecturers and assistant professors despite the presence of PhD candidates due to the alleged policy of favouritism and nepotism, leading to low-quality education in Pakistan.
According to vision 2025, HEC intends to produce 38,000 more PhDs, but has no vision where to place current 671 candidates in spite of vacant capacities in the existing universities, though several new universities have also been established across Pakistan, they added.
They appealed to the CJP that according to articles 5-7 (fundamental rights), joblessness is an issue of prime importance as numerous Pakistani scholars are on roads due to an ‘elitist educational mafia’ in the country.
Majority of the PhDs (671) from foreign and local universities in Pakistan are suffering because of non-provision of permanent jobs in the Pakistani universities and other departments.
They alleged that the illegal appointments without advertisements and selection boards in various universities of Pakistan, including Multan’s Bahauddin Zakariya University, University of Sargodha and others, were noticed by the Punjab HEC where even hundreds of retired professors were hired on heavy salaries depriving the young people.
They said that the HEC and the government are providing funds to the approved positions for many years but have failed to fill these vacant spots.
They demanded of the CJP to take immediate notice of the situation of ‘helpless’ PhDs to secure permanent jobs without any further delay. It can be adjusted by the issuance of an executive order to enhance the quality of education or in the relevant other departments, they added.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr Fahim, Young PhDs doctors Association (PDA) Secretary-General, said it is quite strange that universities have approved vacant posts for so many years and their competent authorities are not serious in filling them.
He said that HEC released funds to the universities for the approved vacancies but instead of advertising the posts, the universities adjusted IPFP awardees into contract basis (35-40 thousand per months) or visiting and Daily Pay Labour Basis (DPL) (18-30 thousand per month) without the regulation opportunity on a merit basis.
Dr Fahim said that the recruitment process takes too long as it is only restricted to advertisements, and it is merely an activity to collect application fee from applicants.
“HEC is facilitating universities but not implementing it rules and regulations. If universities are independent bodies, why the HEC is providing facilities to them?” he asked.
The HEC has no updated data of returned foreign and local PhD scholars, who are working in Pakistan. The HEC website has not made updated reports of QAD, Scholarships, Research grants and IPFP available.
A senior HEC official told this scribe that universities are favouring foreign PhDs scholars due to the poor quality of local scholars.
He said that the local PhDs are of poor quality, even the HEC is offering local PhD programmes which is beyond comprehension because a good number of PhD degree holders are running from pillars to posts to get jobs.
Despite repeated reminders and waiting for days, Aayesha Ikram, HEC Media Director, did not reply to a detailed questioner despite making initial promises to respond.