The decision of HEC (Higher Education Commission) of Pakistan to put an end to two years MA and BA degree programs is not receiving a welcome response as its implementation is not possible at the current stage.
The decision merely seems to be a joke as it is not applicable in current education scenario of the country.
Here is why HEC’s decision to end two years degree programs for education is facing a backlash.
Higher education would become inaccessible
In Pakistan, higher education is still a commodity which is not in reach of every citizen due to associated expenditures. Even two years BA and MA programs that cost only a few thousand from government colleges are not affordable for many students who belong to humble backgrounds. In such circumstances replacing two years, BA/MA with four years degree would only increase the cost and made higher education out of reach from those who can’t afford it.
In backward areas where female students hardly get permission for a two years degree program now wouldn’t be able to pursue these anymore as four years program would only increase the duration of their education which is not acceptable for many families.
Poor Infrastructure in Higher Education Institutes
Colleges and Universities in Pakistan already lack experienced staff and instructors. The state of research in our universities is very dismal, switching to four years degree program would require more qualified staff to teach the upgraded syllabus. This would need to hire more teachers. Before we move a step ahead in teaching the international level studies in colleges, we would need to sort out who would teach these courses and how the teachers would get compensation.
Revenue of universities would fall
In Pakistan, many graduates have to study privately as they can’t afford to attend colleges or universities regularly. Only Punjab University generates its 60% of revenue from the private students who appear in B.A and M.A examination in different disciplines from all over the country. Offering four years courses to non-regular students is not possible currently. So, universities would also face a backlash as no private students would apply for appearing in examinations.
Why HEC wants to make this change
HEC’s stance on this matter was to bring the Pakistan’s higher education at par with international level. Chairman HEC Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad said, “Our students faced problems worldwide because of two-years MA and BA degree programs as these were not recognized internationally.”
The issue is that before making bigger changes in our higher education system, first, we need to improve the infrastructure and bring all the stakeholders on the same page. Otherwise, in the quest to bring higher education at international level, we would end up confining our next generation to the higher secondary level of education while closing the doors to them.