LAHORE: The Virtual University of Pakistan (VU) has enrolled as many as 4,500 students in MPhil, MS and PhD programmes without fulfilling the minimum requirement of getting an NOC (No-Objection Certificate) from the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
According to details, VU recently started admissions in PhD in computer sciences, MPhil in education, MPhil in bioinformatics, MPhil in biotechnology, MPhil in genetics, MPhil in zoology, MPhil in mathematics and MPhil in molecular biology. According to the HEC policy, an NOC is required prior to launch of new MS, MPhil and PhD programmes after which varsities could start enrolling students. However, in violation of the HEC rules, the VU has already started enrolling students in these programmes.
The HEC policy requires varsities to secure an NOC from the commission prior to the launch of any MS/MPhil/PhD or equivalent programme. The policy pertaining to any such programme started after November 7, 2013. The HEC’s policy clearly states that without prior NOC, the commission would not recognise the programme and degree awarded by the institute would also not be attested by the commission. The HEC website also has a list of approved programmes for the convenience of students which enlists all the MS, MPhil and PhD programmes approved by the commission.
When contacted, HEC spokesperson Ayesha Ikram said the VU had applied for NoC for its new programmes only a few months ago. She confirmed that the HEC has yet to grant NOCs to the VU.
VU spokesperson Qamar Riaz said the varsity was offering all MS and PhD programmes as per its mandate.
“However, VU has applied for NOCs of all offered programmes, which are in process by the HEC,” he said. He claimed that no distance learning institution had been awarded NOC for the said degree programmes. However, the list available on the HEC website shows several programmes of Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), which is also a distance learning institution.
VU is one of two public sector distance learning university in the country and the only institute to offer distance learning through television and internet.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2017.