HEC Policy to launch PhD Program 2021

The HEC policy to launch PhD program requires that the universities should provide evidence of compliance with the policy standards. The purpose of HEC Policy for PhD 2021 aimed to ensure that the universities have the required resources to impart education at the highest level in the particular discipline. This policy is supposed to be implemented from Fall 2020 semester, which will commence in October 2022 in most of the institutions.

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has announced a new policy “HEC POLICY ON PHD DEGREE PROGRAMS 2021” (HEC PhD Policy 2021) regarding Ph.D. admissions with some notable changes, which is garnering widespread attention from the academic circles as well as students. The policy says that the guidelines provided are only the minimum requirements, and universities are free to establish their own admissions framework that may vary by discipline, provided it satisfies the minimum conditions set forth in the HEC PhD policy 2021.

HEC policy to launch PhD program 2021

In order to launch a new PhD program, a university should consider the following key requirements of HEC:

Statement of Purpose to launch new PhD program

In order to launch PhD degree programs with specialized titles, a university shall submit for the HEC’s review a statement of purpose explaining the need and rationale for launching such a program. However, the universities that have been in existence for less than ten years shall only be allowed to launch PhD programs in core disciplines only.

Provision to launch the program in the Act/Charter of the university

A university is allowed to launch a PhD program in the discipline approved in the Act/Charter of the University issued by the respective provisional/federal government. If the intended program discipline is not listed in the Act/Charter of the university, the HEC will not approve/recognize the program.

Approval of the university’s Statutory Body

HEC requires that the statutory body of the university i.e. Board of Advance Studies and Research/Academic Council of the university must allow launching the PhD program in the respective discipline. If the proposed PhD program is not approved by the statutory body of the university, HEC will not consider for issuance of NOC to launch the program.

Violation of HEC rules, regulations, or policies

The university shall not have violated HEC rules, regulations, or policies in any material respect in the last two years.

The summary of the HEC Policy on PhD Degree programs is available at https://raftarafta.com/hec-policy-on-phd-degree-programs-2021/

Approval of Accreditation Council

The university must seek approval from the accreditation council to launch a new PhD program if the respective program falls under the jurisdiction of a certain accreditation council.

Curriculum of the proposed PhD program

The university should ensure that the curriculum of the proposed PhD program shall be consistent with the guidelines issued by the HEC.

Admissions Requirements

The admissions requirements of the proposed new PhD program shall satisfy the HEC’s minimum criteria for admission in PhD programs (Admission Requirements).

Requirements for the award of PhD degree

The program completion requirements of the new PhD program shall satisfy the HEC’s minimum criteria for the award of PhD degrees (Requirements for the award of PhD degree).

Faculty Requirement

HEC requires that the university shall hire at least three full-time faculty members holding PhD degrees in the relevant field before launching the new PhD program.

PhD Supervisors

To ensure the quality of the research output and timely completion of the PhD research, HEC does not allow a PhD supervisor to supervise more than five PhD students at any time.

The residency requirement

The intended PhD program shall include a residency requirement for PhD students of at least two years. The students enrolled in the Ph.D. program will be required to spend at least two years in the home country during the period of their PhD studies.

No Objection Certificate/Approval of HEC to launch a PhD program

A No Objection Certificate (“NOC”) from the HEC must be obtained by universities prior to the launch of any PhD program.

The process for Obtaining NOC for the Launch of PhD Program

The process and timeline for requesting NOC for the launch of PhD program are as follows:

How to apply for NOC to launch a PhD program

The university intending to launch a new PhD program shall submit a duly filled out form for the launch of new PhD program signed by the head of the relevant department who shall certify the correctness of the information provided and shall ensure that all required documents are attached with the application. Download the Checklist to launch new PhD program.pdf

When to advertise the new PhD program admission

The university shall apply for the NOC before launching any new PhD program, and no admissions shall be advertised unless the NOC has been obtained from the HEC.

How many PhD programs a university may launch in a single year

The university shall generally be allowed to launch no more than two PhD programs in a single year. In case, a university intends to launch more than two PhD programs in a year, it shall be required to submit a report demonstrating its capacity to initiate additional programs, which shall be reviewed by a special committee constituted by the HEC for this purpose.

When to apply for NOC

  1. The university requesting NOCs for launching PhD program in the fall semester (commencing in September/October) shall apply no later than March 31st of the same year.
  2. The university requesting NOCs to launch a PhD in the spring semester (commencing in February/March) shall apply no later than September 30th of the previous year.

External review or Zero visit of the university

The HEC may, at its discretion, require an external review or a zero visit in connection with the launching of PhD program by a university. The purpose of the visit is to verify that the university has the required resources available to launch the PhD program in the respective discipline.

What next after issuance of NOC to launch new PhD program

If HEC approves the university’s application to launch a new PhD program, the university must ensure the following before the launch of the PhD program:

  1. The university shall ensure that it will continue to comply with the HEC rules, regulations and policies, during the entire period that it offers the PhD program.
  2. In case, an ongoing program fails to meet any of the HEC requirements, the university shall immediately stop further admissions to the program and notify the HEC.
  3. A PhD program supervisor may supervise no more than five (5) PhD students at any time.

Cancellation of NOC

In case, HEC observes that a PhD program fails to meet the requirements and the university does not take necessary and proper remedial actions, the HEC may cancel the NOC awarded to the university for the non-compliant program. Upon cancellation, the university shall not be permitted to apply for a fresh NOC to restart the program for a period of at least two years.

In view of the above, what do you think about the initiative taken by HEC.
a. What will be the impact on the research quality?
b. Will this revised policy help improve the quality of education in Pakistan?
Please share your comments in the comments box given below.

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