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Varsity shame: Thailand junks 40 PhDs

Gaya: Higher Education Commission of Thailand, a statutory body monitoring quality of education in that country, has rejected 40 PhDs awarded by Magadh University (MU).

The degrees were awarded to Thai students enrolled at the Bodhgaya university. But the degrees were rejected and denied attestation, for severe quality deficiency, when presented along with dissertation to the Thai commission for attestation and recognition.

The Thai officials expressed serious concern over qualitative deterioration in the university. In his letter, Suphat Chamanfog, director, Higher Education Commission of the Thai government, informed Magadh University authorities that PhDs awarded by it to Thai students in humanities and social sciences, from 1995-2015, were now being scrutinised by Thai Higher Education Commission officials.

"In terms of substance, those dissertations are merely a review of literature without generating any new knowledge," the Thai director's letter said. The Thai council found the PhD dissertations to be "lacking in scope of study, conceptual framework and research methodology as well as incorrect usage of English language". The official exhorted MU authorities to take serious, effective and immediate measures to correct the wrongs and salvage the university's image as a centre of higher studies. Thai Higher Education Commission, through its Director, also volunteered cooperation in fixing the problem and ensuring quality control.

Most of the rejected degrees were issued in Buddhist Studies (faculty of humanities) and Ancient History (faculty of social sciences). University vice-chancellor Prof Qamar Ahsan confirmed receipt of the letter and said "suitable action was being taken".

Insiders say that in many cases, grade three employees of the university, in blatant violation of UGC norms, supervised PhD research. Nearly half a dozen former VCs of the varsity were charge-sheeted in this connection. Former Patna High Court judge SC Mukherjee, who became VC after superannuation, is currently on bail in connection with a degree racket. Two other ex-VCs have been to jail.

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