80 out of 132 Ph.D. scholars who went abroad after receiving scholarships through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) didn’t return to Pakistan after completing their research.
It was revealed by the HEC officials while presenting the annual audit report for 2018 during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presided over by PTI MNA Noor Alam Khan.
HEC officials apprised the meeting that the remaining 52 Ph.D. scholars failed their examinations and returned to Pakistan without receiving the degree, adding that the national exchequer incurred a loss of Rs. 955 billion in the process.
It is worth mentioning here that HEC rules require Ph.D. students who study abroad at the expense of the Pakistani government to return back and serve a minimum of 5 years in Pakistan.
When inquired about the recovery of financial losses from the failed 52 Ph.D. scholars who returned back to the country, HEC officials revealed that only 1 student has returned the expenses to the HEC.
HEC officials told the committee that the commission was forced to initiate legal proceedings against the 52 students to recover the losses. HEC has won 24 cases while the remaining 27 cases will be concluded soon.
Moreover, HEC has formulated a new policy under which Ph.D. students will be granted scholarships only after they submit the record and original documents of their properties in Pakistan to the commission to avoid such a situation in the future.
HEC would be authorized to confiscate the property in case a student doesn’t return to Pakistan.
MNA Noor Alam Khan expressed apprehension over the new policy and said that it will significantly reduce the chance of students hailing from an impoverished background to study abroad.
In response, HEC officials said that most of the 80 students who didn’t return to Pakistan belonged to the lower or lower-middle class. Thus, such a policy has been devised.
Noor Alam Khan suggested that HEC should allow students who don’t own any property in the country to submit an attorney or a guarantor to the commission in order to receive the scholarships abroad if HEC cannot relax the rules for them.