Ban on PhD, MPhil programmes

THE Higher Education Commission (HEC) has barred 13
universities from enrolling students in MPhil and PhD distance-learning programmes for not meeting standards set by the Commission. Around 4,000 students of these high level programmes are likely to be affected after this decision. The HEC has directed the universities to shift the students enrolled in MS\MPhil\PhD programmes to regular discipline, adding that the faculty required for their adjustment be ensured as per set guidelines.
Distance-learning is not specific to Pakistan as it is practised all over the world but in our country this is widely being misused both by educational institutions and students. The curricula of distance education programmes are often identical to that of on-campus programmes, allowing students to receive same education in either format. Additionally, today’s online students have access to many similar services as on-campus students, including library and career services, academic and financial advising and tutoring. Distance learning gives students the flexibility to complete coursework from home and other remote locations using a computer or a mobile device like a phone or tablet. Many online programmes allow students to watch lectures and complete assignments on their own time. This can be particularly beneficial for working professionals who can’t leave their job to pursue full-time, on-site study and for parents who can’t regularly visit a campus due to family obligations. It has, however, been observed that universities enrol students on considerations other than merit and use this method of learning for minting money. There is no proper or properly monitored programme and students often get away with degrees using unfair means. There are also reports that in many cases students are more knowledgeable and competent than their teachers, supervisors and that is why the entire programme leads to production of substandard manpower that is almost worthless. But it is also noteworthy that the HEC did not intervene at the time of launching of such programmes by universities and is now depriving thousands of students of the opportunity to acquire higher education. A clear policy needs to be evolved to ensure quality of education being imparted without jeopardising interests and rights of students.

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