ISLAMABAD, Dec 3: Saddened by a trend among its PhD scholarship holders to dishonour their bond to serve in the country after obtaining their doctorate and go abroad, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has decided to penalise them.
HEC sources said that money spent on a deserter`s PhD education, plus 25 per cent of it, would be recovered from the property that everyone granted PhD scholarship has to pledge before going abroad for doctorate or joining an institution in Pakistan for research.
Five of the 23 deserters detected so far have already been penalised thus.
Meanwhile, the HEC is tightening its rules to ensure that the PhD candidates and research scholars it finances return home after finishing their courses abroad and serve the country for at least five years before thinking of leaving it for greener pastures abroad. Every candidate who gets the HEC scholarship has to sign a bond to do that after completing his PhD or research work in foreign institutions. They are assured a job on return with a starting salary of Rs80,000 per month.
Students doing research at home and sponsored by their university for PhD scholarship pledge to serve the same university for five years on return.
Anyone who does not keep this commitment, and leaves the country, has either to pay back the amount spent by HEC on his research or PhD education, with a 25 per cent penalty, or the same would be recovered from the property he had pledged to HEC.
An officer of the HEC, requesting anonymity, told Dawn that 731 of the 3,100 PhD candidates funded by HEC had returned home after finishing their doctorate courses which last four to five years. Twenty-three of them, however, including 12 researchers who fell for better offers, broke their pledge and are working abroad. “So the HEC has issued them notices for recovering the amount spent on their education. It is unfair to get education at the expense of your country and serve to the benefit of another,” he said.
Another HEC officer recalled that some students went to North Korea and stayed back for the lure of good jobs. HEC had spent almost Rs4.5 million on each of them and declared them absconders.
“That led HEC to sign agreements with France and Germany that they will not convert the student visa into work permit without the concurrence of the HEC,” he said.
Coordinator HEC Wasim Hashmi said that HEC has a standard operating procedure to address the issue of absconders and is taking measures to ensure that all scholarship holders return and serve the country.Dawn.