ISLAMABAD  -  Scholars of the American Area Study Center (AASC) Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) still lack equivalence of the degree with specialized areas of research despite the center was established in 1975, The Nation learnt on Wednesday.

Scholars of the AASC have urged the Vice Chancellor QAU to award degrees in specialized areas being taught in the AASC instead of simply giving the M.Phil/PhD degree in ‘American Studies’  program.

They demanded equivalence to the ‘Degree of American Studies’ for its respective specialized areas of research including Literature, IR, Political Science and history.

The letter written to the VC said that the issue pertains to ambiguity and absence of clear instructions for awarding equivalence to the degree of American Studies as it falls in diversely specialized areas of research like Literature, International Relations, Political Science and History. 

The letter said at present, the graduates of Area Study Centre are being issued a degree with an indistinct though overarching domain of American Studies but it does not qualify the above mentioned specialized research areas (as contrary to the admission criteria which enrols students on the basis of their degrees in Literature, IR, History and Political Science). 

The letter said that the degree awarding criteria does not reflect a consistency of approach as it overlooks an essential element of diversity which bemoans for recognition in the form of degree equivalence/relevance.

It said that the varsity is credited to already have resolved a similar kind of problem for the students of Plant Sciences and Animal Sciences. Their students are being awarded degree in Biological sciences along with specialization; inter alia, Plant Breeding, Physiology, Botany and Zoology.

“ASC hired faculty members from the disciplines of English Literature and IR but have made no significant development on the issues of equivalence for the students of ASC. It is an obvious inconsistency which cannot be overlooked,” said the letter. 

A scholar, Saifullah Tariq, said that the policy matter input on this issue is pending since 2009 and scholars are swinging between the university and Higher Education Commission (HEC) on this issue.

“Pending of the matter reflects disowning of this important ASC,” he commented.

He added that number of courses including American Literature, International Relations, Political Science and History are being taught at the center but the degree provided is of American Studies, which is an ambiguous term in the job market. 

Vice Chancellor QAU Dr. Mohammad Ali Shah talking to The Nation said that the university awards degree to the ASC students which is its mandate and providing ‘equivalence’ to the program is responsibility of the HEC or the respective provincial governments. 

He said that the university cannot attest its own degree and it is not the relevant forum. He also said that the ASC has its Board of Studies, Board of Governors and Academic Committee to look into its academic and administrative matters.