ISLAMABAD - As many as 92 scholars have been selected from across Pakistan in different disciplines to pursue MS and PhD studies in French universities, under “Overseas Scholarship for MS/MPhil leading to PhD in Selected Fields, Phase-II.”

In this regard a send-off ceremony for HEC scholars to pursue MS and PhD studies in France, was held at Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat yesterday.

The HEC has so far sent 654 scholars to France for PhD under different scholarship programmes, out of which, 432 have successfully completed their degrees. However, under the Overseas Scholarship Programme, a total of 291 scholars proceeded to France, out of which 165 have successfully completed their PhD studies.

Congratulating the selected scholars, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC urged them to properly utilize their stay in France and excel in academic and research work. He said, “You will be Ambassadors of Pakistan in France and we expect all of you to prove yourselves as socially responsible citizens,” he said.

The Chairman said that HEC has been greatly emphasizing on human resource development programmes to provide highly-qualified faculty and researchers to Universities, R&D organizations and industries.

“The HEC has allocated more than 35 percent of the development funds through merit based scholarship programmes being managed by HEC as well as by the public sector universities.

Pierre Fournier, Charged’ Affairs, French Embassy thanked HEC and the Government of Pakistan for sending scholars to France for higher studies, adding that the performance of Pakistani scholars has been very good.

Appreciating the fact that number of Pakistani PhD scholars to France has been growing over the years, he advised the scholars to explore opportunities for their professional development and also act as ambassadors to build bridges between the two nations.

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) yesterday said that universities are under no obligation to hold graduate assessment test (GAT) through National Testing Service (NTS).

An official of the HEC talking to APP said the HEC has directed universities to conduct their own entrance GAT tests rather than NTS for admissions in higher education. The HEC categorically denies such a claim of students of different private universities, saying that HEC asking them to pass GAT conducted by NTS.

Many students of different private universities have claimed that HEC asking their universities to hold GAT conducted by NTS. The students of Riphah International and other private universities said they had already passed intra-university test obligatory for MPhil degree but the said university was directed from HEC to go through the same process yet again.

It is to be mentioned here that Lahore High Court in a judgment in March 2014, on a female student Syeda Anam Ilyas’s petition, had declared NTS as illegal asking HEC to ensure that no more tests will be conducted by any private firm until it is constituted through proper legislation.

Shumoon Kiyani, a student of MPhil, condemned HEC’s decision and warned of launching protests and moving to court against the unjust decision. “We will go to any extent if HEC does not retract its decision. We will not accept any such decision of the apex body of education ignoring future of students”, said another student Asad Iqbal.