Academic dishonesty: GCUF in the middle of a plagiarism storm

Professors get away with minimum consequences for copying research

Ehtisham Randhawa October 06, 2019

FAISALABAD: Universities are known for penalising students and often disqualifying them for plagiarism, but it becomes a bigger challenge when the academic pecking order is a contributing factor.

At Faisalabad’s Government College University, a plagiarism scandal involving the controller of examination has hammered the academic institution’s credibility.

According to details available with The Express Tribune, Associate Professor Dr Shafqat Hussain and Assistant Professor Dr Khuda Baksh of the education department compromised academic originality in their research paper. Following a complaint filed by Dr Naeem Mohsin, who is a member of the staff at the university, a committee was formed to investigate the matter and the two were found guilty of plagiarism.

While such an action would have landed a student or even a professor in troubled waters and possible disqualification from any private university, the two academics only got a slap on the wrist.

After issuing a volley of ceremonial warnings, the panel investigating the matter decided to defer the promotions of Dr Shafqat Hussain and Dr Khuda Baksh.   As a punishment, the panel also ended up docking their travel allowances for the academic year.

Despite being exposed as a plagiarist, Dr Shafqat Hussain continues to serve as the university’s examination controller.

Plagiarism comes in many guises in the academic world, but the most common form involves the straightforward stealing of a colleague’s work or words. The act is increasingly common in the digital age, with the unrestricted flow and availability of information online.

While the university website has a dedicated plagiarism section with multiple links, no policy document appears to be accessible. Clicking any of the links redirects users to a ‘URL not found’ page.

Opinion remains divided over breaches of academic integrity. However, in this case, academic experts have criticised the Government College University Faisalabad (GCUF) for retaining Dr Shafqat Hussain as the examination chief.

“You can’t stop students from cheating if the examination controller is involved in such activities,” said one education expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Dr. Hussain’s presence as the examination controller casts a shadow over the future of 80,000 students, who at some point will take an exam under the system he runs,” he added.

When contacted for comment, Dr. Hussain claimed he was unaware of the university’s decision on the plagiarism case.  “You must reach out to the university spokesperson for comments,” he said.  University officials, including Vice-Chancellor Dr Shahid Kamal, have been silent about the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2019.

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