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HEC told to recognise dual degrees of Comsats students

A subcommittee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to recognise the dual degrees of Comsats students.

The subcommittee also recommended action against a former rector and registrar and treasurer of Comsats for starting the dual degree programme without getting approval from the HEC.

The subcommittee, which met with Senator Sherry Rehman in the chair, discussed audit paras related to higher education for 2015-16.

Discussing an audit para related to Comsats for charging Rs495.602 million from students for the dual degrees, one each from Comsats and the University of Lancaster, UK, the committee said if the programme was started without fulfilling rules, there was no fault of the students.

The report said the management of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) Lahore had enrolled 2,532 students under the Dual Degree Programme during 201014.

The committee said as per earlier directive of PAC, the HEC was supposed to recognise both the degrees as one-time favour to the students. But instead of implementing the PACorders the HEC approached court.

Comsats Rector Dr Raheel Qamar said the Lahore High Court had decided the case in favour of students but HEC filed an intra-court appeal.

He said the programme had already been closed in 2014 but the students were yet to get their degree of Lancaster.

He defended the Comsats` step of introducing the dual degree programme saying it provided the most viable and cost effective path to an international degree in addition to that of Comsats.

The committee members came down hard on the HEC saying why it had been creating hurdles for students who were not at a fault.

`The students have fallen between the cracks,` observed Sherry Rehman.

She saidthe studentsshouldhavebeen given dual degrees.

The members said though the mat-ter was sub judice the committee wanted justice for the students.

Acting HEC Executive Director retired Lt Gen Mohammad Asghar told the meeting that the departmental accounts committee (DAC) on Jan 18, 2019, was informed that a committee had completed its inquiry and submitted a report.

He said the inquiry committee stated that the dual degree programme encountered some legal and regulatory issues. He said most of the issues had been resolved by giving one-time waiver.

The inquiry committee was of the view that the rector and registrar of Comsats were responsible for willfully implementing a null and void ICA-2010 and causing academic loss to the dual degree programme students.

The audit report said DAC was informed that action was required to be taken to implement recommenda-tions of the inquiry committee. The inquiry was completed in April 2018.

The convener of the subcommittee said action must be taken against those whose negligence or fault put the future of students at risk.

The committee recommended that dual degrees of students should be recognised and action should also be taken against the Comsats officials.

Discussing the audit paras of Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, the committee expressed its surprise over the level of mismanagement and alleged corruption at the university.

The subcommittee was told by audit officials that besides other mismanagement and irregularities, the university also issued fake degrees of BCom in 2013.

The committee showed its concerns that the university had purchased 80 kanals in 2009 for construction of theIslamabad campus at Moza Moharian but there was no approach road to the site.

The vice chancellor of the university said most of the cases which were reflected by the auditors had taken place during the tenure of former VC Dr Zafar Iqbal.

The committee directed the HEC to hold an inquiry to ascertain how Mr Iqbal was recommended to be appointed as the VC.

The meeting was told that several cases of the university were being probed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The members also showed displeasure over HEC for its weak oversight role and directed the federal auditors to hold a proper audit of the commission.

The HEC head said it had its own limitations and universities were autonomous bodies.

Title : HEC told to recognise dual degrees of Comsats students
Author : Dawn
Type : News
Role Performer : Corporate author
Subject : Higher Education Commission, Public Accounts Committee
Publisher : Dawn
Publication Place : Islamabad
Date : 2019-02-27
Language : English