Jobless PhD scholars protest against HEC

Karachi:04 July: Members of the PhD Doctors' Association (PDA) Pakistan on Monday staged a protest demonstration against the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for failing to provide them with regular jobs.
Dozens of the PhD scholars gathered outside the National Press Club (NPC). They were holding placards and banners contacting the slogans in favour of their demands.

The protesters said that they were still jobless even after acquiring the highest education in their relevant fields from foreign and local universities.

According to the information provided by the protesters, around 400 PhD scholars were jobless.

They maintained that under the relevant HEC policy, PhD graduates who completed their degrees on HEC's foreign or indigenous scholarships had to serve for five years in Pakistan.

"During the first year, HEC manages their interim placement in universities. Later, they have to find jobs on their own," the protesters said.

They were of the view that despite bringing the issue into notice of the HEC management and other authorities, no concrete step had been yet to resolve this issue.

They said every year the HEC spent billions of rupees on granting foreign and indigenous PhD scholarships. "This is done without any planning of the future," they said.

The scholars threatened that they would hold a countrywide protest, including in front of the Parliament, if the issue was not resolved till May 20.

In their charter of demands, they asked the HEC to provide them regular jobs in public and private sectors according to their qualification.

"HEC must ask the universities to hire PhD scholars to fulfill vacant posts of assistant professors instead of hiring BS/MS degree holders on ad-hoc basis. They must regularise the interim, contractual or visiting PhD faculty members after completion of IPFP in respective posts as per mutual agreements of the HEC and universities," they said.

They said that HEC should ensure that universities announced faculty positions before filling them. "They must abandon the practice of hiring visiting or contractual faculty. There should also be a ban on extra credit hours/workload for all faculty members. The universities should stop hiring temporary and inexperienced staff," they said.

The protesters said that the HEC should cancel the no objection certificates (NOCs) granted to departments which did not have PhD faculty members according to HEC criteria in public and private universities.

While talking to Daily Times, Dr Faheem Khan said that a large number of universities faced an acute shortage of PhD degree holder staff. "On the other hand, talented candidates who have PhDs are ignored and discriminated against when they apply for these posts. The pathetic policies of the HEC have forced them to come out on the roads," he said.

Another protester said that the HEC had planned to produce 38,000 new PhDs scholars. "It is even unable to adjust 400 of us. How will it deal with thousands of PhD degree holders?" he asked. Last month, the HEC had planned to induct 38,000 teachers with doctorate degrees into public and private universities in line with its Vision 2025. Currently there are only 9,253 PhD degree holders among a total of 34,444 fulltime faculty members.

Earlier in May, these scholars had also held token protests outside the HEC Headquarters and Jinnah Convention Centre. However, their demands were not met. However, the HEC maintains that it is not responsible for providing jobs to candidates after they complete their studies.
Published in Daily Times, July 4th , 2017.