Hire Brain, Not Brand
In the last decade of the rapid growth of higher education institutions in Pakistan, it has become a normal practice to hire directly and blindly those PhD graduates, who obtained their PhD degrees from the technologically advanced Western and Asian countries, like USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and China. The reality is paradoxical. According to a rough estimate, approximately 60% of the Assistant Professors, newly hired by Pakistani universities, cannot publish even a single research paper in ISI Impact factor Journals, even during the initial three years of their practical post-doctoral experience. The reality is very bitter to accept, because a majority of this lot usually worked in the established research groups in the advanced countries, where, as a practice, research papers are written just by a few scientists and the whole collaboration team, including tens, sometimes even hundred collaborators, are listed as the co-authors of these publications. In this situation, it is next to impossible to figure out the real contribution of each co-author into such publications, which belong to everyone, but to no one. Naturally, those passive PhD students from Pakistan and other developing countries become a financial burden for these advanced research institutions around the world during their graduate studies, as well as for their own countries afterwards. Consequently, as a courtesy, and to get rid of such PhD scholars, these institutions help them to somehow finish their PhD studies, based mostly on using the collaborative research papers. Therefore, they are awarded, with some reservations, the PhD degrees from such institutions with the hope that they would leave the host country in the stipulated time frame, and return to their home countries. The situation gets even worse, when such PhD graduates are warmly welcomed in Pakistani higher education institutions, which offer them handsome incentives just based on the fact that they received their PhD degrees from the technologically advanced countries. There have been even cases when PhD graduates from advanced countries but without any research publication were hired by Pakistani universities. At the same time, many talented PhD graduates from the local Pakistani universities and the “so called” not advanced countries, like Russia, Turkey, Poland, Taiwan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Iran etc. cannot get the placements and positive response from the educational leadership in Pakistani universities. Why is the educational leadership of Pakistani universities mainly concerned about the place of issuance of PhD degrees, rather than considering individual research capabilities of the PhD graduates, regardless of the origin of their doctoral degrees? Shouldn’t be the science and research considered truly international without any borders? Shouldn’t be the educational institutions of Pakistan considered truly free from academic racism and discrimination?
This is a sad fact, which the most of the academicians in Pakistan admit that, in the “so called” not technologically advanced countries, including Pakistan also, the PhD students have to strive to the fullest to successfully complete their PhD research projects in conditions of the scarcity of the available resources, facilities, and the strict rules and regulations, set by the higher education authorities of the respective countries. As a result, these PhD graduates become strong enough and competitive researchers, capable enough to do an independent research and publish papers in the international impact factor journals.
Whereas, on the other hand, in the technologically advanced countries, with all state of the art facilities and developed infrastructure, the majority of Pakistani PhD scholars become lazy in their research and studies, preferring to spend their precious time and consume the available resources, enjoying the various facilities of the advanced world. Hence, they become parasites, not only for their host institutions, but for their future Pakistani educational organizations as well. This is because, they are absolutely sure that their PhD degrees, earned somehow from the advanced universities, are free tickets towards their safe future after being hired by any Pakistani university, for sure. They also know that a western PhD degree will entitle them to work comfortably as the usual college teachers even in the university environment, without producing any research till the day of their retirement. Hasn’t the time come that we should put the full stop to such academic racism and discrimination, based on the traditional paradigm of a country of origin of PhD degree? Hasn’t the time come when our educational leaders and policy makers must realize that intellect is a universal phenomenon, which cannot be defined by a country of origin only? Hasn’t it become an alarming factor for the educational leaders of Pakistani universities that majority of the PhD graduates from the “so called” advanced countries cannot produce research as they are expected according to their “advanced” PhD degrees, even after several years of their induction in the local universities? Hasn’t the time come to think why the PhD graduates from non-advanced countries are not even shortlisted for an interview, and not given even a chance for onward placements in Pakistani universities to enable them to contribute to the development of this country by their hard work together with talent?
It is worth mentioning that the universities are the places, which are the free markets for generation of problem solving research and innovations. Therefore, only PhD graduates, capable of doing independent scientific research, should be hired by Pakistani higher education institutions, without any discrimination on a place of origin of their doctoral degrees. Similarly, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan should re-consider its policy for the selection of external foreign examiners for local PhD thesis evaluation only from the list of about thirty technologically advanced countries, whereas there are around 200 countries in the world with approximately 10, 000 universities in the countries, which are not listed as the technologically advanced ones, according to the HEC. Rather than looking into the country of origin of potential examiners for local PhD thesis evaluation, the HEC should look into research profiles and academic achievements of the potential examiners from across the world, without any discrimination based on the country of origin.
While concluding, it is stated that for a sustainable development of the research and education in Pakistani universities, the usual practices of academic racism and academic discrimination, based on the country of origin of PhD degrees, as well as external PhD examiners, should be stopped. The HEC and Pakistani universities should welcome the really capable and talented PhD graduates and the external PhD examiners from all over the world to encourage the practice of fair competition, based on merit entirely. The Talented Faculty Hiring Program at various universities in Pakistan and the Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs Program, sponsored by the HEC, should not only focus on PhD graduates from the technologically advanced countries, but should be open to all the talented PhD graduates from all over the world, and the selection should be based on true merit only, without giving any extra credit and preference for PhD degrees, awarded by some advanced countries.
However, this could be another debate that who should be given an extra credit: a talented and hardworking PhD graduate from a non-advanced country, who earns his/her degree in a scarcity of resources, or a PhD graduate from an advanced country, who is provided with all the necessary facilities and infrastructure during the course of his/her studies and research?