Do PhDs contribute to the Financial Health of our Universities?
Dilemma is a situation where a person has to choose between choices that are both undesirable. We face it in our real life, most of the time and certainly we choose the option that gives us less pain and minimal losses. I had to write this because of a recent interaction I had with the Director of ORIC Department from a renowned university (mentioning the name of the university shall be unreasonable here as this is the situation in most of the universities i know) as well as some news from the media that universities are facing financial constraints and funding to the universities has been squeezed and minimised to almost level zero. I asked him why is your ORIC not contributing to the financial health of the university, and the answer quite disappointing.
The News a leading national newspaper reported on April 1st, 2021 that
The Islamia College University, Peshawar, is facing a financial crisis despite having property worth billions of rupees in Peshawar and Charsadda cities. The rent of Islamia College University’s most expensive shops in Peshawar’s Khyber Bazaar is only two to three thousand rupees per month while the rent for other private shops in this area is between Rs25,000 and Rs100,000. The university is facing an annual deficit of at least Rs100 million in rent from its commercial and agricultural properties.
Islamia College university facing financial crisis
PESHAWAR: The Islamia College University, Peshawar, is facing a financial crisis despite having property worth billions…
Similar is the case with most of the universities like University of Peshawar as it denies full salary to employees amid financial constraints in January 2021.
Peshawar University denies full salary to employees amid financial constraints
PESHAWAR - The University of Peshawar, one of the oldest and prestigious institutions of higher education in…
ORIC which is an abbreviation of “Office of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation” is a department within the government chartered universities. ORIC was introduced by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to fulfil the mission of Higher Education Commission of Pakistan to transform the universities to drive high impact innovation, applied research and entrepreneurship. their goal is to become a powerhouse of high growth innovation. At universities ORIC provides services in research and development, innovation, inventions, commercialisation, patents and collaborations. In short the purpose was to develop something that can contribute to the financial position of the universities by marketing what the universities have, and obviously university can offer much more to the market from research to tangible products. It is mandatory for universities to have an established ORIC department in Pakistan.
In the course of action HEC started PhD scholarships and thousand of academicians secured them through a process laid out. Thousand went abroad to get the PhD, a degree that is dear to everyone, they even published outnumbered articles in international journals. Most of these PhDs came back with signed bonds (few of them even disappeared), and started teaching in respective universities. When i enquired from the aforementioned Director why you people are not utilising the skills and knowledge these professors have after securing PhDs he simple told me; “Man how can you expect it when they have to teach? these PhDs are in real dilemma on how to manage the bonds they have signed with the Universities and HEC”.
The real problem in here is not the capacity of these professors we are having that might be a factor but no, to me the way i understood during my discussion with the aforementioned Director ORIC it seems that Universities lack actual marketing brains. They have to invest in how to market their products that is obviously those solutions for the problems which our business market is facing. I can’t think of another way, our universities are over-employed even with so many visiting faculty in hand but the commitment to assess the market needs and addressing those with local solutions is missing. If ORIC is absolutely focused on local market rather than students it might work pretty well and start contributing financially to the universities.
In my opinion our universities can come out of this situation where they have to face financial deficits on annual basis, through and only by strengthening the ORIC to go out and search for the opportunities in the market, they should not be focused on securing grants and funds from NGOs rather moving out and exploiting the opportunities available in the market, and for that the most important thing is marketing.
Its not about the number of publications you have, It is about what problem you can solve for the market.
To agree or disagree that is your choice.