As part of the Overseas Scholarship program run by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, at least 177 MPhil and PhD students have failed to complete their studies and 110 others have settled abroad and not returned to serve their home country as part of the agreement.
As per the requirements of the program, students are selected for scholarship program after thorough scrutiny of their documents and a number of interviews conducted by local and foreign professors.
After completing their doctoral studies, scholars are required to return and serve the Government of Pakistan for six years. Those who fail to fulfill the terms of the scholarship agreement are penalized via legal proceedings and have their scholarship funding cut off.
So far HEC has sent 7,537 students for doctoral programs across the world with a legal action initiated against 37 of them and 300 to 400 others being pursued in court.
Critics claim that the failure of students to complete their doctoral studies in time is mainly due to inadequate measures adopted by HEC to select and finalize students sent abroad and mismatch of locally gained education with international requirements.
Moreover, the fact that most Pakistani students who do manage to finish off the degree refuse to return to the country present HEC with a real challenge.
However, HEC chairperson Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and HEC HRD member Ghulam Raza Bhatti have rubbished all these allegations and claim that the success rate of the Overseas Scholarship program is much higher than its failure rate and the failure of completing studies by student is more attributed to the fact that Ph.D. is “no child’s play”.