Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday announced new undergraduate and PhD policies under which students can directly enroll in doctorate programme after completing 16-year education.
HEC chairman Dr Tariq Banuri shared salient features of new policies at a press conference.
He said the policies were formulated after thorough deliberations and consultations with the stakeholders including vice chancellors, professors and educationists.
Dr Banuri said new undergraduate policy 2020 and the PhD policy were aimed at protecting students` right of acquiringquality education and increaing the value of higher education degrees nationally and internationally.
He said there was a mismatch between the education system and the industry needs, which rightly raised concerns pertaining to a lack of marketable skills in the graduates produced by Pakistani universities.
The chairman said Undergraduate Education Policy 2020 has been formulated to address these concerns, adding that the policy will promote practical competence and general education skills in addition to focusing on discipline-based curriculum.
`To promote practical competency of students, the universities will ensure that their graduates acquire a nine-week internship in addition to going through an extracurricular training before obtaining degrees,` he said.
Mr Banuri said the universities must be committed to producing qualified graduates, whose overall level of knowledge and competence should be up to the mark.
He informed the mediapersons that professional accreditation councils were being strengthened to improve the qual-ity of disciplinary education. `Our intention is to improve the quality of our graduates and the confidence of employers in our degrees,` he said.
Regarding the structure of undergraduate education, he said the two-year BA/ BSc and MA/MSc programmes have been phased out to shift towards four-year BS programmes, and the associate degree programme, a credit-based system, has replaced the two-year BA/BSc degree.
However, the students who have obtained their BA or BSc degrees can enroll in the fifth semester of the fouryear BS programme.
Elaborating the new PhD Policy, Mr Banuri said that it has been upgraded in line with the international best practices and is applicable retrospectively from Jan1.
He said the BS graduates can now directly take admission in PhD programmes and in a different discipline if universities find them`prepared`and `committed`.
The chairman explained that preparedness means that the students had enough knowledge, competence and previous academic training enabling them to succeedin a PhD programme.
`The universities will also assess the applicants` commitment to the discipline,` he added.
Apart from the admission criteria, the PhD students will have to go through a thorough evaluation before they complete their studies. Likewise, the teaching and mentoring system has also been reorganised on the pattern of ancient Sufi episteme, so that students may better benefit from their teachers and mentors.
He said the universities may choose to have BS or MS/MPhil as the minimum criteria for admissions. However, the minimum requirement for admission in PhD programmes is a BS degree. If the PhD students come directly from BS programmes, they may be required to complete a larger number of credit hours compared to those who have previously completed MS/MPhil degrees.
The policy requires the scholars to study 50 per cent of courses in the university that covers two years in residence, so that the students can closely interact with their supervisors.