Islamabad - Verification of the degrees of around 1,400 indigenous PhD scholars’ is pending before Higher Education Commission for two years due to the complicated and lengthy process, an official said on Tuesday.

The official told The Nation that around 1,400 PhD scholars from different universities of the country were waiting for attestation of their degrees’, but the complicated process adopted by the HEC was lingering the verification.

The HEC though offers degree verification facility at its regional centres at Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta for bachelors’ and masters’ degrees , but the PhD degrees are only verified at Islamabad headquarters.

The official said that the attestation process had been made so complicated that a scholar usually has to wait for years to get the degree attested. “The data of PhD scholars are pooled in a ‘PhD Directory’ established by the HEC to maintain record of the scholars but the system is not providing efficient results,” said the official.

This delay in verification has particularly affected the scholars wanting to pursue careers in different organisations. The official said that the scholars repeatedly approached the HEC for early attestation as their organisations were demanding verification of their degrees for official purposes. “Since emergence of fake degrees issues, majority of public-sector organisations now demand attestation of academic credentials,” said the official. However, the delay in attestation has put the scholars’ job on risk, he maintained.

The official added that scholars from far-flung areas are returned empty handed, with technical fault in the software cited as the reason.

Meanwhile, director general (DG) of the Statistics Division, which deals with the data of PhDs, was removed and transferred to Quetta Regional Centre, the official said. He added that the position was with an official having no relevant experience regarding maintaining the data of the scholars . “A very important department is being run on ad-hoc basis,” said the official.

A scholar from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, whose attestation is pending before the HEC, said that obtaining a PhD degree was easier than getting it attested from the HEC. He said that due to flaw in the attestation mechanism, scholars had to suffer and compelled to repeatedly approach the HEC headquarters for verification. “The HEC should have developed coordination with the universities through which a scholar could be able to get attested degree at the time of its issuance,” he said.

The scholar added that officials dealing with the section also misbehaved with the candidates as they seek timeframe for their degree attestation.

As per the process, a PhD applicant after being listed in PhD directory is searched by the HEC system through online CNIC or email. After the verification of data in the directory, the process of degree attestation is started. The official said that the centralised process of PhD degree attestation was making the process lengthy for the scholars .

Chairman HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmed while talking to The Nation said that universities were responsible for late attestation as they delayed issuance of the degrees . He said that the delay in attestation occurred in exceptional cases, particularly where a scholar had completed the degree in more than eight years conflicting with the rules and regulations.

He added that the specific cases also include the problem of plagiarism and review of PhD thesis by a foreign scholar of such a university not recognised by the HEC. “The system cannot verify the data if a candidate appears with PhD completed in 15 years or its research paper is not published after his PhD,” said the chairman.

He said that a large number of cases had been dealt and other would also be addressed soon, however; the reported cases of plagiarism and other flaws would be not entertained, he said.