Academic dishonesty is eating away at Pakistan’s higher education. But professors are happy


Quaid-i-Azam University PHOTO/library | Commons

Quaid-e-Azam University’s department of mechanical engineering was rated better than Oxford in Shanghai Academic Ranking. Just that QAU does not have any engineering department.

Over half a dozen international “well-reputed” university ranking organisations annually publish their ratings. They tell you which university or department is better than which other, both within a country as well as between countries. Feel free to swallow their poisonous bait but do so at your own risk. These cunning ones easily take simpletons for a ride. At best, you will get questionable stuff. More likely, it will be meaningless nonsense or a fat bunch of lies.

An example: from the website of Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities — which ranks thousands of universities globally — the department of mechanical engineering at Quaid-e-Azam University was rated 76-100 in 2017. This placed it just below Tokyo University and just above Manchester University. Wow! Thereafter every year QAU improved its score and in 2020 it jumped into the 51-75 range putting it under McGill University but higher than Oxford University. The reader can google this and may discover other such gems too.

Better than Oxford? Having taught at QAU for the greater part of my life, I could jump for joy. But let the truth be told: QAU does not have a mechanical engineering department! In fact, it does not offer engineering of any kind and none is planned. A clerical mistake might explain a one-off report. But what software generated the precise numbers charting QAU’s progress year after year?

Laugh if you want but not too loudly. Save some breath for Times Higher Education which declared Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan as Pakistan’s top university. Unknown for research or teaching, AWKUM is top-most for violent intolerance. In April 2017 a 23-year-old AWKUM student, Mashal Khan, was accused of blasphemy then beaten with sticks and bricks before finally being shot to death. Hundreds of students cheered as he was dragged naked across the campus. They video-recorded the murder with smartphones, then posted it onto their FB pages.

A week later, yet another university ranking organisation called QS put Nust (Islamabad) at Pakistan’s number one and drove AWKUM off the scene. Such fatuous fabrications are galore. These commercial organisations never send inspectors to the thousands of overseas universities they rank. Instead, they simply email forms to university officials who fill them at will. The ranking criteria are adjusted to benefit the client. Everyone (except the student) makes a fast buck.

The Print for more

Comments are closed.