ISLAMABAD: The intervention of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) saved the future of 2,500 students of the Comsats who availed and enrolled for the dual degree programme by paying 2000 pounds for the degree from UK-based Lancaster University but with a condition that it will not be a precedent in future.
Under the agreement reached between the Comsats and Higher Education Commission (HEC) in the PAC meeting, the HEC will verify the COMSATS degrees of 2,500 students under the dual programme but not the degree awarded by the Lancaster University as it did not require the HEC endorsement.
The PAC held its meeting Thursday with its Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah in the chair which took the issue of charging of 2000 Pounds from the students of CIIT (Comsats Institute of Information Technology) on account of awarding UK affiliated university degree.
However, the Comsats gave the undertaking to the HEC that it would be one time waiver and no new enrolment in the dual degree programme be made and if Comsats and any other university offered a dual degree programme, they should have to take prior approval from the HEC for initiating these kind of procedure and also to adopt the procedure, rules and regulation of the HEC policy.
The agreement between the Comsats and HEC was reached after hectic debate as both have different views during the meeting and even both had admitted before the committee that they had made mistakes due to which this crisis erupted that put the future of 2,500 students at stake.
The PAC warned that no one would be allowed to play with the future of the students as it was a mistake of both — Comsats and HEC.
It was revealed in the meeting that the Comsats had received 3.5 million pounds from the students in the name of dual degree programme and though they used the name of the Lancaster University, taught them local curriculum not of the Lancaster University.
During the meeting, Comsats University Rector Dr Junaid Ziadi admitted before the committee that the Comsats initiated dual degree programme without HEC permission saying that following the signing of the MoU with UK based Lancaster University in 2009, they wrote a letter to HEC for the permission but did not receive a reply so it was assumed they had no objection to it. “It was over smartness from our side and it was a mistake,” he said.
The Comsats University rector admitted before the committee that each student directly deposited 500 pounds to the Lancaster University and in four years each student under the dual degree programme deposited 2000 pounds while Comsats got Rs500,000 fees of 8 semesters.
It was told to the committee that the HEC restricted Comsats in 2014 from awarding the Lancaster University degree and gave three options to the Comsats and out of these options, Comsats accepted the option of availing itself of the degree from Lancaster University and transcript from Comsats.
The Comsats total budget is Rs6.5 billion and out of it 22 percent provided by the government.
It was told to the committee when in 2010, Comsats entered into agreement with Lancaster University, no HEC representative was present in the agreement signing ceremony.
The HEC had not objection to the dual degree programme but on single joint degree.
It was also told to the committee when the dual degree programme was initiated, the incumbent chairman of the HEC Dr Mukhtar Ahmad was also in the Comsats.
HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed was of the opinion in the meeting that unless and until the Engineering Council accredit the degree of the UK based Lancaster University, the HEC did not declare it equivalent to Pakistani degree.
PAC Member Dr Arif Alvi observed that it was an excess with the students that they were offered dual degree programme and promised a degree on the completion of the programme and if the dual degree programme was not legal, why it was not terminated.