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    Thursday, 19 April 2018

    Fake credentials: Probe launched into ‘sale of PhD, MPhil degrees’ in Punjab

    The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Punjab Higher Education Department (PHED) have launched a joint probe against the sale of degrees and paid-for theses in Punjab.

    The chief of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) had recently raised the issue in a letter sent to the Punjab Governor Secretariat.
    According to the letter, during recent interviews for the post of lecturers and assistant professors, the PPSC came across candidates with a rather poor understanding of the subjects they had studied during their Master’s or MPhil.
    The letter says that some of the candidates with MPhil degrees were unable to elaborate or defend their written thesis for the degrees obtained. “PhD and MPhil thesis on various topics could be purchased from various academies all over the country,” claims the letter.
    The PPSC chief has, through the letter, advised the governor, who is ex-officio chancellor of universities in the province, that all public and private sector universities in Punjab should take cognisance of “this unsavoury practice of sale of degrees” and “introduce appropriate checks to put a stop to it, in consultation with the respective parent departments.”
    Thus the HEC – which is the parent department – and the PHED have formed a four-member joint investigation committee to take up the matter.
    “Yes the HEC and the PHED have formed a committee to look into the matter,” confirmed HEC spokesperson Aayesha Ikram.
    Moreover, the Punjab Governor Secretariat has also sent a notification to vice chancellors and deans of universities across the province to submit their replies in the matter at the earliest.
    On the other hand, PHED Chairperson Dr Nizamuddin has also called an urgent meeting of all VCs and heads of universities in Punjab to discuss the issue that has surprised the provincial bureaucracy, academia and higher education sector.
    “I have called a meeting of the heads of all universities in Punjab next week… we will discuss the matter and see what can be done as remedial measures,” Dr Nizamuddin told The Express Tribune.
    The matter of fake degrees had been raised by none other than former HEC chairperson Mukhtar Ahmed in several standing committees. He once told a committee that fake degrees were being sold in the country and the issue was much more complex than it appeared.
    On the contrary, the HEC has no mechanism to verify the degrees with modern means. Recently at a presser, Ahmed admitted – in response to a question asked by The Express Tribune – that degrees were being verified by orthodox means.
    The concerns of provincial public service commission are similar to those expressed by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) in its annual reports of 2016. The FPSC report lamented about the poor academic state of candidates obtaining scholarships and the way they attempted their question papers.
    The FPSC is also working in collaboration with the HEC and other stakeholders to ascertain the causes of poor performance of candidates in written tests.
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