In a few earlier articles, I have discussed the importance of making universities better in Pakistan, and especially improving the social sciences and research and development (R&D) in general, and, obviously, the provision of quality basic education and literacy for all (EFA). At least half of the cohort completing primary school should on merit have the chance to continue with academic and vocational secondary education. In Pakistan, we are lucky in one field, notably that many young boys and some girls, too, can learn a trade or skills in the family business, or the business of more distant relatives or family friends. Such informal apprenticeship training is important, not only the formal schooling in institutions. Many advanced countries have lost this tradition, which is best, though, if topped up with components in schools and colleges, often referred to as TVET, technical and vocational education and training. Then there is the issue of university research; much of which is carried out by students working towards their Masters and Doctoral degrees. Some research is obviously also carried out by university teachers. Alas, many university teachers seem to think that the PhD is the last larger research project they need to undertake. It ought to be the first or second research project. I hope the culture will change in the future, so that more senior university teachers will not only direct research, sit on committees, be examiners, teach, and so on, but also spend a good portion of their time doing post-doctoral studies and further research themselves. I believe this is important not least in the social sciences, 'the thinking sciences, where we need experienced brains as well as young brains. In all research, exchange of ideas is important. The skilled researchers are indeed important. In my own home country of Norway, a full university professor should carry out research equivalent to three PhD degrees. Well, sometimes two-and-half will suffice, especially if there is thematic breadth in the work, considering that a university teacher after all shall be able to teach and supervise students in a range of sub-areas of his or her subject. Interesting, too, a Norwegian university teacher does not need to hold a formal PhD degree. This is emphasising the importance of a solid and broad foundation of university studies, not only the spearhead, the advanced degree. Today, we would also expect university graduates and certainly university teachers to have multi-disciplinary knowledge in fields outside their majors and specialisations. Norway used to have a higher doctorate, called Dr Philos, which academicians and scientific staff at research institutes and universities would obtain halfway through their career. Now, it is being phased out and replaced by the educational PhD degree, completed early in the persons career. There was something good with the old system, that a university teachers work was being checked and evaluated at least once during the career. Often, such 'exams would be presentations where the Dr Philos candidate had a chance to show off in public and be honoured for his or her yearlong, tedious work. In Pakistan, I believe it would be useful if we developed a system similar to what the Norwegians now are abandoning, and for that matter, I think the Norwegians, too, should revive it. Furthermore, I think that we focus too much on the importance of university teachers in the country having completed their PhD degrees. This may sound contradictory to what I said about the long-term higher doctorate, but it is not. The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has focused much of its efforts on upgrading the countrys universities through the production of PhD scholars, and it has been advised that the degree should be taken abroad, and in any case, two of the three external examiners should be from foreign and more advanced countries. Many of the countrys fresh PhD holders are to come back to their posts in a couple of years, and at the same time an increasing number will complete such degrees at home. This is good and well. Yet, I would like to add that the basic university education and training should also be given attention, with a view not only to qualifying university teachers and researchers but all candidates That includes research-based teaching during the new four-year Bachelor Honours degree (which was earlier only two years) and the one to two years for the Masters or MPhil degree. Research methods and analytical skills should be strong components, and also the students ability to think that is something we can learn, it doesnt only have to do with intelligence. It rather has to do with the environment and atmosphere of a research group. University teachers obtain their real qualifications through their Masters degrees, less so from the specialised doctoral project. The Masters and even the Bachelors studies over some six years, which is indeed a good amount of time, can indeed make a good university teacher Yes, a doctoral project, and at least two more projects later in the career, is important, but maybe not as important as we have made it out to be. The foundation is important, notably the general university studies, and much of which is relatively practical knowledge and skills, and, as we mentioned above, learning to think. In this article, I am advising for more emphasis on the basic and higher degrees and slightly less emphasis on the advanced degree. But I am adding, too, that a university teacher, over some time of his career, say, 10 to 15 years, should continue to do research before reaching the level of full professor. Much of this work is involvement in research projects, preparation of books and articles, and so on, much of which is peer reviewed but not necessarily for defined degrees and titles. And then, the more pleasant aspects of my article, notably that research, teaching and learning communities, yes, 'thinking communities, must be very pleasant and creative places to work, learn and live. We talk about science parks, IT campuses, Silicon Valleys, and so on. We also need to invest in special environments for social sciences and the humanities. It is probably quite easy to do, if we get around to doing it. But thus far, we seem to have been saying that such subjects do not really need much more than a computer and a library, no need for expensive labs and technical equipment. However, it is time that we apply some of the lessons learnt from the engineers and IT boys (and girls). We should also apply some of what we know from organisational and social psychology. We can learn from schools and communities at lower levels, too, and from the way the private sector wants short courses to be organised. The atmosphere and environment is important for creative research work in all sciences, and the old and young social scientists may be more sensitive to these things than they know, and indeed, want to admit. Who says that Pakistanis are just tradesmen and salesmen, foreign-workers and immigrants, albeit important I am convinced that we in the course of a couple of decades will see a revolution in R&D in the country, provided the leadership from HEC and the universities continues. Being a social scientist myself, I would draw attention to the importance of those academic fields, and I have above touched upon some aspects for improving universities in general and the social sciences in particular. Because without academic and action research from the social scientists, developments in sectors such as education, health, labour, equality, etc progress will remain slow. Better universities are corner stones. n The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad.