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Old Sunday, November 11, 2012
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Phds in Pakistan and rest of the world


If we are desirous of having an honourable place for ourselves in the rapidly developing world, we will have to consolidate the strength of our PhDs from the numerical, qualitative and creative points of view


“Education for all” is the promise made by the global manifesto of human rights; and it is the responsibility of every government to provide all educational facilities to all its citizens, irrespective of their colour, race, gender, language, creed and religion. The fulfillment of this promise is evident from the ever-increasing number of educated people all over the world. As compared to the past, more and more people are studying today, and it would not be wrong to say that they are continuously studying, in the form of getting higher education. There was a time when the addition of the word BA with the name was considered to be a great honour by the people. But this standard of honour has now changed and after getting their Master's degrees, people are continuing their education through M.Phil. and PhD programmes. In this way, they are entering the circle of academic elite, where it is not possible for everyone to reach.

These academically rich people are a valuable asset and a source of progress for every country of the world. The ideas flourishing in their minds, their research work and their writings determine the course of progress. For this very reason, the number of PhD scholars is increasing in most countries of the world. According to the April 2011 edition of the weekly science magazine “Nature”, between 1998 and 2006, there was the following annual increase in the number of PhDs in all disciplines in different countries of the world.

China 40 %
Mexico 17.1 %
Denmark 10 %
India 8.5 %
Korea 7.8 %
Japan 6.2 %
Australia 6.2 %
Poland 6.1 %
Britain 5.2 %
America 2.5 %
Canada 1 %

The number of PhD degrees awarded in all disciplines in different countries of the world in 2008, as mentioned in the magazine, is given below:
Japan 16296
Britain 16606
Germany 25604.

50000 PhD degrees were awarded in China during the year 2009. According to the American National Science Foundation, 49562 PhD degrees were awarded to the research scholars in the United States in all disciplines in 2009. 10781 researchers received PhD degrees in India during 2008-09.

Pakistan is also making every possible effort to increase the number of its PhD scholars. According to the statistics provided by the Higher Education Commission, 6366 students were enrolled in the PhD programmes in 132 universities of Pakistan till the year 2010. In other words, each university of the country had an average of 49 PhD students. As a whole, the country could produce 7098 PhDs from 1947 to 2010. This number also includes those 25 persons who received their PhD degrees from 1930 to 1946. Thus, 7073 research scholars were given PhD degrees in the 64 years from 1947 to 2010. On an average, 111 researchers received PhD degrees in the country annually. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, 100 persons were awarded PhD degrees in a single year in 1988. In each of the previous 41 years, the number of persons getting PhD degrees was less than one hundred. In 1988, the number of persons having PhD degrees in the country was 1045. It means that after independence, the number of awarded PhD degrees in the country crossed the 1000 figure in as many as 41 years. This number rose to 2068 in 1996. In other words, the next one thousand PhD degrees were awarded in the country in eight years. The next one thousand PhD degrees were awarded in five years and their number reached 3033 by the year 2001. The number increased from three to four thousand in the next four years and in 2005, the number of PhD holders in the country reached 4025. Afterwards, the number of PhDs in the country began to increase very rapidly and by the year 2007, it rose to 5071. Two years later, this number was 6478. In 2010, this numbered soared to 7068.

The rapid increase in the number of PhDs in the country after 2001 was due to the establishment of the Higher Education Commission in 2002-03. From 1947 to 2002, only 3284 PhD degrees were awarded. But 8789 PhDs were completed in the next eight years. Thus, on an average, 474 PhD degrees were awarded in each of these eight years. However, in the previous 56 years, before the setting up of the Higher Education Commission, the annual average of awarded PhD degrees was only 59. 779 PhD degrees were awarded in 2009. It was the largest number of PhD degrees to be awarded in a single year. In 2009-10, there were 132 universities in the country and 620 PhDs were produced in the country. In other words, each university produced an average of 4.69 PhDs.

Besides this, according to the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2010-11, there were 5235716 students in all the universities of the country in 2000-10. During this period, 4445 PhDs were completed in the country. It means that one out of every 1178 university students got a PhD degree during these ten years. 5399 PhDs were produced in the country from 1995 to 2010. It means that out of every one million people only twenty have got PhD degrees.

Now, let us have a look at the PhDs in Pakistan with reference to disciplines. According to the statistics provided by the HEC, till June 30, 2010, research scholars related to the field of Social sciences received the largest number of PhD degrees (26 % of the total PhDs) The percentage of PhDs in other disciplines is given below.

Physical Sciences 21 %
Biological and Medical Sciences 16 %
Arts and Humanities 16 %
Veterinary Sciences 13 %
Engineering and Technology 3 %
Business Education 1 %
Honorary PhD degrees 1 %

In spite of the fact that the number of PhDs in Pakistan is increasing, some other related issues still deserve more attention for bringing about improvements in them. For instance, the number of female PhDs in the country is much smaller than that of the male PhDs They only make up 23 % of the total PhDs in the country. Till June 30, 2010, their total number was 1487. In 2008, 29.3 % of the total PhD degrees were awarded to women.
Research is the basic function of every PhD scholar and the research papers written in the light of extensive research are a precious asset for every researcher. The quality, standard and worth of the work being done in a country by the researchers is judged from the number of their research papers published in international journals.
This situation is quite different in the countries of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to its Scientific, Technological and Industrial Score Board for the year 2011, 46 % of the PhD degrees awarded in 2009, were given to female scholars.

In addition to this, the HEC should also pay attention towards those universities which are not producing PhDs According to HEC's annual report for the year 2008-09, 50 universities of the country produced PhDs from 1947 to 2008. The Economic Survey of Pakistan for the year 2008-09 tells us that the total number of universities in the country at that time was 129. It means that only 39 % of the country's universities could produce PhDs, while the remaining 61 % failed to do so. Besides this, from 1947 to June 30, 2010, only 3.11 % PhD degrees were awarded by the universities in the private sector. According to the record of the HEC, their total number till June 30, 2010 was only 200. Now, a large number of universities have sprung up in the private sector, but their PhD outcome is very low. Some attention must be paid to improve their performance in this field.

Research is the basic function of every PhD scholar and the research papers written in the light of extensive research are a precious asset for every researcher. The quality, standard and worth of the work being done in a country by the researchers is judged from the number of their research papers published in international journals. In this connection, Pakistan's present condition is somewhat better than the past. SCIMAGO Research Group is an international organization that conducts research on research journals and research papers all over the world. According to its statistics, in 1996, Pakistani research scholars wrote only 0.08 % of all the research papers which were published all over the world. By the year 2010, this number had increased to 0.32 %. The performance of Pakistani scholars at the regional level is slightly better. The ratio of their research papers has risen from 0.56 % to 1.09 %. In 1996, Pakistani scholars wrote 893 research papers. In 2010, 6987 research papers written by Pakistani scholars were published. In 1996, Pakistan stood at No. 52 in the global ranking of the publication of research papers. But in 2010, it was able to reach at No.43 in the same ranking. It was made possible by the positive role played by the HEC in the promotion of research at the highest level.

In the year 2010, a total of 2171118 research papers were published in all the research journals of the world. The third highest number of research papers were written by the British scholars. The number of their research papers was 139683. In this list of 231 countries, Iran occupied the 19th place with 27510 research papers. In this global ranking with reference to the publication of research papers, India stood at number 9, with 71975 research papers in 2010. The ranking of other South Asian countries is as follows

Bangladesh 59
Srilanka 83
Nepal 91
Afghanistan 144
Bhutan 157
Maldives 197.

In the year 2008, 82456 research papers written by the scholars of the eighth South Asian countries were published. They made up only 3.79 % of the research papers published all over the world. These facts reveal the over all pathetic condition of research and development in this region.

The talented people of South Asia are unable to move forward in the field of research, because of the extremely meager funds allocated for it in this region. More than one trillion dollars are being spent annually throughout the world on research and development. But the collective share of India and Pakistan in this sum is only 38.83 billion dollars. Wikipedia has compiled a list of 72 countries whose annual spending on research and development is more than 100 million dollars. In 2011, America was at the top of the list with the annual spending of 405.3 billion dollars. With 153.7 billion dollars, China ranked second, while Japan stood at No. 3 with the annual spending of 144.1 billion dollars on research and development. India and Pakistan occupy 8th and 34th positions respectively in this list. In 2011, India spent 36.1 billion dollars on research and development.

According to the available statistics till 2007, Pakistan spent only 0.67 % of its total GDP, which was equivalent to 2.73 billion dollars. If we include in this amount, the money spent on military research and development, then, according to Wikipedia, in 2007, Pakistan spent 3.67 billion dollars, which made up 0.9 % of the country's total GDP.

In spite of the extremely limited resources available for research and development, the scholars of South Asia are continuing their research work and their research papers are also being regularly published in the international research journals. But the pace of their journey from invention to innovation is miserably slow and South Asian countries can hardly ever patent any of their inventions. In 2009, 97.48 % patent registration cases in the American Patent and Trademark Office belonged to the United States and eleven other countries, none of which was a South Asian country. According to Knowledge Network and Nations' Global Scientific Collaboration in the 21st Century Report published by the British Royal Society, among the countries outside America, Japan registered the highest number of patents (35501) in the American Patent Office. Germany ranked second with 9000 patents. South Korea registered 8762 patents and was third in this list. They were followed by Chinese Taipei, Spain, Canada, United Kingdom, France, China Israel and Italy. In 2009, a total of 80752 patents were registered by these eleven countries. America alone registered 82382 patents that year. 4216 patents were registered by other countries during the same year in the American Office.

Research produces new knowledge, products or processes. Research publications reflect contribution to knowledge, patents indicate useful inventions and citations on patent applications to the scientific and technical literature indicate the linkage between research and practical application. Doctoral graduates are key players for research, innovation and invention. They have been specifically trained to conduct research and are considered the best qualified for the creation and diffusion of knowledge.

If we are desirous of having an honourable place for ourselves in the rapidly developing world, we will have to consolidate the strength of our Ph.D.s from the numerical, qualitative and creative points of view, in order to give a practical shape to the idea that knowledge is not the property of some particular individual or nation.


Muhammad Atif Sheikh
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True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. "Socrates"
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