Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan recently announced that it had closed 31 PhD and 26 MPhil programs in various universities in Pakistan during last 18 months. Thank you very much, Chairman HEC for at least making an attempt to slow down the wholesale of higher education degrees in Pakistani universities. But universities are autonomous bodies in Pakistan, and HEC has too little space and authority to regulate the academic affairs of universities. There are almost 179 chartered universities and degree awarding institutions. Most universities in Pakistan do not entertain and even listen to the reservations, rules and regulations of HEC. In modern times when education has become a big enterprise in Pakistan, the dream of regulating universities is like auribus teneo lupum or mulgere hircum.
I am a full-time faculty member at a public-sector university in Pakistan. I observed many anomalies in academic affairs and research culture of universities in Pakistan during my service of 10 years. In this article, my scholarship is that fake research culture and traditions have become a working modus operandi in Pakistani universities. Universities of Pakistan are just like legal and chartered outlets of fake higher education degrees. Consequently, a lot of pseudo-scholars having PhD or MPhil degree are there in the market and sometimes are able to occupy a high position in universities in Pakistan.
Fake higher education culture has been promoted and supported in Pakistan for the last 15 years, and the standard of higher education has continued to deteriorate. Universities are no more seats of learning. In contemporary times, most PhD and MPhil dissertations in Pakistan are not earned Arte et Marte by the students. Rather, but they are fake with fake data, grafted, purchased and blindly plagiarised. No kind of genuine research is being done at most universities in Pakistan. I am sorry to say, plagiarised and copy-paste Pakistani methods are working well. Now Pakistani students even do not waste time in copy pasting and purchase ready-made fake thesis from the market. On the basis of this fake research culture, I have categorised most higher education degrees awarded and being awarded in Pakistan as fake. Academic corruption, fake higher education culture, manufacturing PhD, MPhil and MSc dissertations on a commercial basis in the market, plagiarised research traditions, and race of ranking among universities are some basic popular features and anomalies in the contemporary higher education culture in Pakistani universities.
Academic corruption and frauds have been evolved as a tradition in Pakistani universities. Media always propagate that politicians are corrupt, but I would also add the professors of universities in the list. I categorised it as academic corruption and moral corruption. This morally corrupt mafia of professors’ lack in professional integrity, and they facilitate the students in one way or the other and students are able to get higher studies degrees without doing genuine research. Today’s PhD and MPhil dissertations are not magnum opus but intellectual frauds. Most university professors are focused on quantity and not quality, and this mafia is responsible for the promotion and practice of fake higher education in Pakistan. Universities of Pakistan are replete with morally corrupt faculty members who lack in professionalism as well.
Gender-based corruption at campuses is also a part of academic corruption. For example, if you are female MPhil or PhD student at Pakistani university and your supervisor is male, then there is very strong probability that your degree will be completed within due time with 4/4 CGPA without doing genuine research.
Fake higher education culture and traditions have become popular in Pakistan. In the old times, fake degrees were prepared by tampering and forgery. Now there is no need of tempering and HEC recognised universities are issuing fake degrees with the genuine signature of the Chancellor. These fake degrees are only awarded to those students who have paid a fee of all semesters. A comedy writer Younis Butt once said, “In the modern times, university degrees in Pakistan are receipts of money paid to universities.” In Pakistani public sector universities, if an honest supervisor refuses to approve and signs the fake dissertation of the student, then that supervisor is insulted, harassed, blackmailed, and pressurised by departmental chairman and dean. By the laws of public sector universities in Pakistan, chairman and dean cannot bypass a supervisor, but usually, they violate this tradition in order to let down the research supervisor. I have personally experienced such kind of unfortunate incident and when I reported it to vice chancellor; he replied that it was a petty matter.
Fake dissertations of PhD, MPhil and MSc are manufactured in the market on order of a customer on a commercial basis. There are different rates of MSc, MPhil and PhD thesis. In Faisalabad city, rates of PhD, MPhil and MSc thesis are approximately Rs 150,000-200,000, Rs 15,000-25,000 and Rs 10000 respectively. Dissertations are provided to students on demand within a very short period.
Plagiarised research traditions have become a popular and working method in Pakistani universities. TURNITIN software is being used to check plagiarism across the globe, but fortunately or unfortunately it has failed in Pakistan. Corrupt and professionally sick faculty members and supervisors in Pakistani universities have developed Pakistani methods and techniques, and they know how to get the desired score of plagiarism using TURNITIN. Most dissertations of MSc, MPhil and PhD in Pakistan are highly plagiarised, and plagiarism report of TURNITIN shows 5 percent plagiarism only. In such a way, most research supervisors in universities are misusing TURNITIN in order to facilitate and oblige the students. The way TURNITIN is being used in Pakistan is a big slap in the face of creator and designer of this useful software.
There is a race of ranking among universities in Pakistan. Now motto of universities in Pakistan is the pursuit of quantity and not quality. Most Pakistani brand universities think that more number of enrolled students and more number of awarded degrees of MPhil and PhD will ensure them a high ranking in the country.
Here I have some conclusion and remedies for this dilemma of higher education in Pakistan. Faculty members, research supervisors, departmental chairpersons, deans, and vice chancellors of universities in Pakistan are collectively responsible for this fake research culture and fake higher studies degrees. We cannot put the blame on students only. Faculty members and research supervisors should not help students do fake dissertation, and they should refuse to approve a fake dissertation. Chairpersons, deans, and vice chancellors should support the perspective and stance of a supervisor rather than threatening or bypassing him or her. If this vicious coordination of academic corruption and fake higher education persists for a decade more, then universities in Pakistan will publish an advertisement in such a way, “Booking for MPhil and PhD degrees opened Fall semester 2026”. So, fake higher education tradition is not a brutal filmed or Felix culpa, and it is a potential threat for future of Pakistani nation as well.
The writer is a lecturer at GCU Faisalabad. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org