Tuesday, August 3, 2010

University Research:relevance ,cost-effectiveness and not elitism

Is University research relevant to our problems and socio-economic needs? Ia research cost -effective and sustainable? Is research compatible with international agenda,and thus publishable in international journals, answer to our academic and research needs.Are our research institutes earning their bill on national exchequer? These are the questions and issues with which we would be dabbling with in this discussion.

As to the sustainability and cost-effectiveness ,there is a news that due to budgetary constraints many Phd scholars enrolled abroad and in the midst of their studies may have to come back or may prefer to remain abroad and fend for themselves, if HEC is not able to continue to meet its financial obligations.They would be right as HEC would not be filling its legal and contractual obligations.Hopefully some solution would be found or USAID comes to our and their rescue.

What is patently clear is that the academic research and training pro- gramme of our Higher Education is not sustainable.The heydays, and the misguided policies are not to return when higher education budget was increased to eight times its earlier levels, at the expense of primary education in a country which suffers from low literacy and one of the poorest levels of primary school enrollment.Wrong and elitist and shortsighted policies of a dictator surrounded by selfish and ambitious individuals could not have been sustained for long.

Phd training programmes can only be feasible through locally relevant research programmes.World ,the developed countries, are at a different level altogether.Their research agenda is different.It is universal and international and it is only they who benefit from it directly and immediately, in the short and long run.We benefit only incidentally and at a cost of hefty payments.We cannot possibly contribute to international agenda by publishing internationally and sending Phd students at a massive scale abroad?Our research should be focussed on local problems and issues,which certainly may not be as elegant as international issues?However local research has its own elegance.Compiling a local research agenda is no mean achievement and on the top of it which earns some money and research funds from private and public sources.A Phd student is the most economic input to the research process, without him no academic research is possible and feasible.A foreign based Phd programme hence is neither affordable nor useful or relevant.

There are so many problems in industry, agriculture,water and energy sector , the whole issue of self-sufficiency and indeginisation.Some of the problems and issues may not be amenable to research by our researchers and universities due to capacity and capability constraints.But some certainly would be and really are, many of which I can personally point out which can keep many a universities busy for years.A balance would,however,have to be maintained in academic standards of research and economic relevance and usefulness.You cannot possibly award a Phd on making a mundane silencer but an innovative design can infact consume many Phd dissertations.

The issue of basic and applied research has for most part gone.Today biology has become as applied as engineering with its genetic engineering,molecular biology and other bio-sciences.In that sense our so-called premier institution has a very poor record of achievements.With expertise in a highly relevant field,Hej has hardly anything of significance in terms of relevant and locally useful research.If there is some, it is very little.This is in contrast to claims of 100+international publications by some of HEJ professors.I would have preferred , as would many others,if the talented professor focused on local research agenda ,published locally and contributed towards self sufficiency and self reliance.

In social sciences, both the quality and quantity of research,is awfully lacking.Although, the funding requirements are too little as compared to natural and physical sciences. The whole society is a laboratory and the subject and the object of social science research.All one needs is the urge and sensitivity.Who would have more problems and unexplored and unknown issues than we have.We and our universities do not focus on them and the problems keep multiplying.

1 comment:

  1. The issue quite serious and does not only concern social sciences. It is the crumbling system of education in Pakistan, whether primary, secondary, college or highder educatsion.