LAHORE:18 May: Punjab University (PU) senior faculty members Friday took the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to task for its recent report on the university’s MPhil and PhD programmes observing the Commission’s team worked in ‘haste’ and ‘misrepresented’ data. They were speaking at a meeting chaired by the PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad and attended by deans and heads of all teaching departments. It was also observed in the meeting that under the Punjab University’s own review system, the university did not announce admissions in Spring Semester this year to ensure quality education in MPhil and PhD programmes. The meeting was told that the university administration itself took this decision three months ago before the HEC report, which the university had received just two weeks ago. “The university administration itself is conscious and working hard to uplift the standard of education but it seems the HEC team tried to take credit for the work the university administration already did by not offering MPhil and PhD admissions in Spring Semester,” commented a senior PU official. Sources said some faculty members even termed the HEC’s report part of a ‘conspiracy’ hatched by the private sector higher education institutions (HEIs) against one of the largest and oldest public sector universities of the country. Various heads of the PU’s teaching departments also alleged that the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan’s rules and regulations regarding MPhil and PhD programme had widened student-teacher ratio gap, resulting in lowering quality of education in some of the departments. One of the deans also pointed out that contrary to the HEC report vis-à-vis duration to complete a PhD programme the HEC had itself increased this time limit to eight from four and half years. The dean said this was increasing burden of PhD scholars on the departments. About the misrepresentation of data, another senior faculty member observed in some MPhil programmes, two course works were offered instead of thesis but the HEC team considered those in the category of students who were doing thesis leading to serious anomalies in data of the HEC report. The faculty members also expressed concerns over the HEC team’s meeting with representatives of 80 departments in just two days saying as to how it was possible to paint a true picture in such a short period of time. Meanwhile, according to a press release, while chairing the meeting PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad vowed to improve the MPhil and PhD programmes on which the HEC expressed reservation due to gap in student-teacher ratio. The VC, however, said the university did not offer admissions in Spring Semester this year based on recommendations of its own review system. PU Registrar Dr Muhammad Khalid Khan said the Quality Assurance Agency of the HEC had appreciated most of MPhil and PhD programmes in the university. During the meeting, some faculty members pointed out that the data about some departments in HEC report was not true which should be rectified and sent back to HEC for its review of the report. On the request of faculty members, the vice-chancellor constituted a committee to prepare true data about MPhil and PhD programmes. Chairman HEC Dr Tariq Banuri told The News that all of the Commission’s reports were sent to the universities for their comments and responses. “PU has not sent any response so far, even though the deadline has passed. The response has to be factual and in writing,” he concluded.The news.