Foreign scholar paid high from HEC grant for nothing

November 23, 2017

Islamabad - A foreign faculty member at the International Islamic University, Islamabad was benefited from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) grant without attaining his academic services defined in the programme, an official said on Wednesday.

The documents with The Nation showed that the Department of Computer Science & Software Engineering (CSSE) in July invited an Associate Professor Hafiz Farooq Ahmed from the College of Computer Science & Information Technology (CSSIT, King Faisal University to collaborate in multiple academic activities.

But the guest faculty member was awarded with Rs5,80,000 honorarium against his eight weeks stay in the country from the HEC fund without his any contribution in academic research or supervising the students, said an official.

As per the HEC criteria, Visiting Foreign Faculty Programme (VFFP) provides an opportunity to foreign scholars from the universities across the world to visit and share their academic expertise with local universities.

The foreign scholar invited in the host academic institute is bound for conducting collaborative research, conducting workshops and supervising the MS and PhD students during his stay.

However, as per the documents with The Nation, the Associate Professor from the King Faisal University (KFU), Saudi Arabia, didn’t contribute in any of the three areas and only claimed his honorarium.  An official informed The Nation, the same foreign faculty member was invited by the Faculty of Basic & Applied Sciences (FB&AS) for the third time consecutively in last three years. 

“Dean FB&AS Prof. Dr Muhammad Arshad Zia while promoting nepotism in this regard consistently favoured the KFU academician,” official added.

According to working paper meeting of the Board of Studies of the previous month, out of nearly 50 students from PhD, MS and MSC programmes of the CSSE not a single student was supervised by the guest scholar .

The documents said Dr Hafiz Farooq submitted his joining report to dean from July 04, 2017, and the administration directed submission of evaluation report, detail of course and visit completion progress report.

Interestingly, the then CSSE Head of Department and a faculty member who was named as his collaborator has no knowledge of presence of the foreign faculty member in the country. “I am not aware of any academic engagement of Dr Hafiz Farooq at DC&SE, IIUI. I have not given any consent nor did he contact me for joint research at the IIUI. He has not met me yet nor doing any collaboration with me,” Dr Shehzad Ashraf said.

Meanwhile, the university administration recommended approval of honorarium and reimbursement of airfare ticket for the guest foreign faculty.

The official letter said: “As per HEC award letter, an amount of Rs400,000 for whole visit i.e for eight weeks (Rs50,000/- per week) may be approved /sanctioned in advance which will be reimbursed by the HEC . The honorarium shall be granted on monthly basis. The amount of air ticket (SAR 1305.0) may also be paid to him. As per HEC award letter, he was entitled for one round trip Air Ticket of PIA (up to Rs180,000)”.

The collaborator of Dr Hafiz Farooq Ahmed, Assistant Professor Dr Shehzad Ashraf Chaudhry while talking to The Nation said the guest faculty member for KFU didn’t collaborate in any assignment.

 

“The scholar visited last year and worked but this year he even didn’t enter the department,” Shehzad added.

Previous HoD CSSE, Dr Hasnain Naqvi informed The Nation that Dr Hafiz Farooq Ahmed had only conveyed about his arrival through email, however, didn’t contribute practically in any research work or organising the seminar which is compulsory.  “The dean also didn’t take consent of the HoD while inviting him,” he added.

The Dean FB&AS Prof Dr Arshad Zia while talking to The Nation said the foreign faculty member fulfilled his all duties which were assigned to him.

He said Dr Hafiz Farooq prepared the course file, supervised a female student in research proposal and worked on maintaining the faculty schedule for multiple activities. “The scholar fulfilled his responsibilities and no deficiency was reported in his assigned work,” said Dr Arshad. The dean also said that a few elements involved in university politics are exploiting the issue.

Deputy Director HEC Waseem Khaliqdad, while talking to The Nation, said that HEC follows strict criteria for the selection of foreign faculty.

He said the guest faculty member is recommended by the host institution while HEC verified his credentials and evaluated his performance.