ISLAMABAD: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has made the dual-degree fiasco murkier instead of ameliorating the plight of students enrolled at the Lahore campus of Comsats Institute of Information Technology (CIIT).
The graduates as well as the currently enrolled students have been continuously protesting the confusion and uncertainty about the programme and a number of them have even moved court.
The committee at its meeting here on Thursday decided that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) will only recognise the local degree of the CIIT and not that of the Lancaster University (LU), which has added to the confusion surrounding the status of the programme.
The meeting was chaired by opposition leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah, who is chairperson of the PAC.
The CIIT Rector, Junaid Zaidi briefed the members that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the LU and the HEC was informed about the programme, but nobody objected to it till 2013.
He said that the LU graduates could not get public-sector jobs because the programme had yet to be recognised by the HEC and accredited by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), while the accreditation from the LU was also under process.
MNA Sardar Ashiq Hussain asked Zaidi if the rules were not followed, then why the CIIT went ahead with the programme? Zaidi admitted that it was done in “over trust”.
“Yes we did make a mistake,” he said, to which MNA Naveed Qamar remarked that it was not a lapse rather an offence.
The HEC Chairperson Mukhtar Ahmed said that the CIIT had to obtain approval from the commission and the PEC by January 1, 2011, otherwise the MoU would stand void.
“The university went ahead with new enrolment and 130 students were awarded LU degrees in 2014,” he said.
MNA Arif Alvi said that the HEC should not stop universities from running such programmes, but it should ensure all required standards were met.
Shah asked how the CIIT was charging some students in pounds sterling on the pretext of a dual-degree when the same teachers were teaching at other programmes too.
“Is it not a trick to earn money,” Shah asked.
Zaidi replied it was the nature of the programme and foreign faculty had been made available to give lectures through video links.
The HEC chief said it would recognise CIIT’s degree for 2,500 students, and not ones issued by LU.
The PAC members asked Zaidi whether he agreed to it and that the issue would not be brought back again in the future to any forum. To this, the rector expressed his nod and that the fate of currently enrolled students would be decided in consultation with the HEC.
When The Express Tribune talked to the institute’s Registrar Izhar Hussain about the status of the LU degree, he replied that the HEC would recognise single transcript of dual degrees hence the controversy would stand resolved.
But, when contacted, the HEC chief said they would recognise only the local degree with single transcript.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.