HEC announces Undergraduate, PhD policy to acquire quality education

ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has announced new Undergraduate Education Policy 2020 and the PhD Policy aimed to protect students’ right to acquire quality education.

Announcing the new policy, Chairman HEC Dr Tariq Banuri in a press talk on Wednesday stated that the new policy would also increase the value of higher education degrees nationally and internationally.

The chairman said that there was a mismatch between the education system and the industry needs, which rightly raised concerns pertaining to a lack of marketable skills in the graduates produced by Pakistani universities.

He said that the Undergraduate Education Policy 2020 has been formulated to address these concerns, adding that the policy would promote practical competence and general education skills in addition to the tradition focus on discipline-based curriculum.

“To promote practical competency of students, the universities will ensure that their graduates acquire a nine-week internship in addition to going through an extracurricular training before obtaining degrees” he added.

Banuri said that the universities must be committed to produce qualified graduates, whose overall level of knowledge and competence is up to the mark. He informed the media persons that the professional accreditation councils were being strengthened to improve the quality of disciplinary education.

“Our intention is to improve the quality of our graduates and the confidence of employers in the worth of our degrees.”

Regarding the structure of undergraduate education, he said that the two-year BA/BSc and MA/MSc programmes had been phased out to shift towards four-year BS programmes, and the Associate Degree programme, a credit-based system, has replaced the two-year BA/BSc degree, however the students who want to continue their studies can have a bridge to the four-year BS programme.

Elaborating the new PhD Policy, Banuri said that it had been upgraded in line with the international best practices and was applicable from 1st January, 2021.

He said that the BS graduates could now directly take admission in PhD programmes and in a different discipline if universities find them ‘prepared’ and ‘committed’.

The chairman explained that preparedness means that the students have enough knowledge, competence, and previous academic training enabling them to succeed in a PhD programme. “The universities will also assess the applicants’ commitment to the discipline, ” he added.

Apart from the admission criteria, he said, the PhD students would have to go through a thorough evaluation before they complete their studies. Likewise, the teaching and mentoring system has also been reorganised on the pattern of ancient Sufi episteme, so that students may better benefit from their teachers and mentors, he mentioned.

He said that the universities may choose to have BS or MS/MPhil as the minimum criteria for admissions, however, the minimum requirement for admission in PhD programmes is a BS degree. If the PhD students come directly from BS programmes, they may be required to complete a larger number of credit hours compared to those who have previously completed MS/MPhil degrees.

The policy requires the scholars to study 50 per cent of courses in the university that covers two years in residence, so that the students can closely interact with their supervisors.

The Chairman informed the media that the two policies were formulated after thorough deliberations and consultations with the relevant stakeholders including Vice Chancellors, professors, and educationists.

To a question, he said that HEC has set a criteria of five students with one professor for PhD students so that the teacher could focus on students.

To another query, he said that although the experience of online education during the pandemic was remain good but it also have some technological weaknesses. He also suggested physical examinations to sustain standard of the education, adding, online exams would low the value of degrees.