LAHORE - After barring many universities from carrying out Mphil and PhD programmes without fulfilling criteria, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has declared that the programmes started after November 2013 without getting NOCs from it will not be recognised and the degrees issued by them will not be attested.

The notification was issued after the Islamabad HEC completed an exercise about the universities’ working as per the set criteria by the commission for higher educational institutions.

A circular issued to all higher educational institutions the other day once again reiterated the NOC must be obtained from the HEC Islamabad prior to starting programmes like MPhil and PhD.

In this context, some documents are required that include charter of the university to offer a programme, approval of the statutory body to launch the programme, NOC of accreditation council to launch it, its curriculum in line with the HEC guidelines, exact title of the programme on relevant degree, its objectives, scope regarding market, social and employment perspectives and admission requirements.

Moreover, the HEC also demanded of the varsities to provide semester-wise break-up of the workload and credit hours, PhD thesis review policy by two foreign experts from technologically and academically advance courtiers and one local reviewer.

Policy for publication of research papers in HEC-recognised journals only shall be considered to the criteria of the PhD scholar. The HEC also further vitalised appointment of full-time relevant PhD faculty, at least two for launching an MPhil or equivalent programme and three PhDs for a PhD or equal programme.

Official sources said the HEC had also barred around 20 universities and higher educational institutions and their sub-campuses from carrying out postgraduate programmes after their failure to meet the commission’s set criteria.

They further said the HEC had stopped many MPhil and PhD programmes in several varsities for their failure to meet the set criteria. The HEC teams would visit and collect information through their own resources about the criterion of the higher educational institutions, they added.

When contacted, the HEC Islamabad official refused to give names of the universities that had been stopped from continuing their higher degree programmes. However, he confirmed HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmad pledged to expedite crackdown on the institutes that failed to meet the criteria. He said many private and public sector universities were not following the HEC policy like the number of scholars for a PhD programme at a time with one supervisor. He said that many of them have been found supervising more than five scholars. During the past, it was found that one supervisor in Islamia University Bahawalpur was reportedly supervising more than 20 PhD students. Likewise, the Institute of Social Policy and Research Peshawar had enrolled hundreds of students only for the MPhil programme. He said there was a long list of universities that failed to meet the criteria of the HEC. He also said the commission would soon audit the professors working on administrative slots in the universities that were destroying the public money meant for research only.

A senior official of the HEC Punjab also said there were universities without a required number of professors. Some universities had appointed such professors as lacked required qualification or publications, the officer added. He said the commission would also probe the program being run at private universities whether they were following the set criteria or just collecting money from students. However, he said since this practice was done by the HEC Islamabad, the Punjab Commission had no such information about the banned universities that did not follow the set criteria.