Islamabad - A parliamentary body yesterday settled a controversial matter of dual degree agreement between COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) and Lancaster University, UK.
The parliamentary body has set a condition that the case will not be made a reference in future for awarding degrees. The Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Syed Khursheed Shah, reached on consensus that only Higher Education Commission (HEC) would verify COMSATS degrees. The committee after a threadbare discussion also evolved a consensus that HEC would not own degree of Lancaster University (UK). This case would not use as a ‘reference’ in future, according to the decision of the committee.
The HEC around a week ago in the same committee had claimed that the COMSATS is charging Rs 1.3 million per student for a ‘worthless’ dual degree. The commission had termed the agreement of dual degree programme between COMSATS and Lancaster University as illegal.
The PAC members argued that time and money of students should not go waste and their degrees should be verified. The members termed it a mistake of both HEC and COMSATS for mistreating the matter.
The committee members grilled Rector COMSTAS Dr SM Junaid Zaidi for signing the pact with Lancaster University without taking proper consent from Higher Education Commission (HEC).
“Due to over trust and excellent response we missed this aspect...It is lapse on our part,” said Zaidi, admitting his fault to run the programme. However, he said the COMSATS had written a letter to HEC for its verification but received no response.
The committee members also strongly criticised both the organisations for putting at risk the future of students.
“I am very disappointed for your mistreatment with the issue, as you did not bother to care about the future of children (students),” said Arif Alvi, a PAC member. The PAC member also asked auditor general to conduct audit of the fee paid by the students to the institute. This suggestion was floated when the COMSATS’s head admitted that no teacher from Lancaster University taught the students.
HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed at the fag end of the meeting said, “HEC would not own UK university and it will not be used as a reference.” He further said that the COMSATS had not taken approval for starting the programme.
A committee member from PML-N, Sheikh Rohail Asghar expressed annoyance for not taking action on proper time on this issue. “This programme was started in 2010…Why it was not taken properly,” he asked.
The committee was earlier given briefing about charging 2,000 pounds from students of COMSATS on accounts of awarding a UK affiliated university degree.