ISLAMABAD-The Higher Education Commission in its first attempt of announcing Chinese government-offered PhD scholarships put hundreds of candidates in a state of dismay after it revised the initially uploaded merit list, The Nation learnt on Tuesday.

A large number of students who had applied for the scholarships alleged that the HEC had altered the first merit list. The HEC uploaded the first merit list on April 13, while uploaded another on April 15.

Meanwhile, a senior official informed The Nation that HEC had to upload only 16 final candidates, but erroneously it uploaded names of all 1,500 candidates. “This has put the HEC in an awkward situation where each candidate is now suspicious about the transparency of the announced list,” said the official.

The official said that it was the first time that the HEC was given the mandate to shortlist names of the candidates for bachelors, masters and PhD to study in China.

Earlier, the announcement and selection was done by the Chinese embassy and relevant universities, while candidates were allowed to apply for the scholarship independently.

The students selected are sent to 289 Chinese universities covering academic disciplines of social and natural sciences.

According to HEC, the candidate selected in undergraduate programme is awarded 2,500 Chinese Yuan per month; Masters student 3,000 Yuan per month while PhD students are awarded 3,500 Yuan per month.

Talking to The Nation, an aspirant PhD scholar Bakhtawar Qayyum said that the HEC uploaded the list of successful candidates on April 13, and her name was included in it.

However, on Monday, April 15, an altered list was uploaded in which her name was not included.

Bakhtawar did her MBA from CUST University and applied for PhD programme in Xiamen University of China.

Every applicant has access to confirm his/her selection by entering the CNIC number in the relevant programme. The system shows the selected candidate’s name against the CNIC number.

According to available evidences with The Nation, number of candidates whose names appeared in the list of successful candidates were removed from the second list uploaded on April 15.

Bakhtawar Qayyum said that Chinese government offers scholarships in Type-A and Type-B categories.

Earlier, both types were offered directly by Chinese government, but now the HEC announces Type-A scholarships which includes candidates applying for PhD programmes, she said.

Chinese universities this academic year 2019-20 will take 7,000 Pakistani students.

Another aspirant PhD scholar from Balochistan, Fida Husain sharing details of his selection said that his name was selected for admission in Nanjing Agriculture University. But the next day, his name was not there on the list, he said.

Number of candidates talking to The Nation expressed concerns over selection process of the candidates alleging that nepotism was done in altering the list.

“Names of selected 16 candidates must be made public as there are doubts on the transparency of the selection process.

Another candidate Sohail Ahmed, who put written query after removal of his name from the list, was replied by the HEC, “It was a technical glitch and has been resolved now. Earlier, data of all applicants was displayed and now only those who are nominated. We regret any inconvenience caused”.

Students also said that they were also responded same by HEC authorities when they approached them by telephone after their names were removed.

Chairman HEC responding to The Nation said that “We are investigating this. Apparently, the system uploaded the names of all 1,500 applicants instead of the top 16 selectees. We will issue a full statement after ascertaining the facts”.