Hardly two weeks after Professor Asghar Zaidi took charge of the Government College University (GCU) Lahore as the Vice-Chancellor (VC), a mega corruption scandal broke out. The internal probe that has found dubious payments amounting to $7 million to ‘ghost’ foreign faculty will make it a challenge for the new VC to “win back the partially lost prestige of this institution.” It is shocking to know that an institution like GCU would employ ‘ghost faculty’. The scandal must alert the Higher Education Commission (HEC), and it should inspect other universities to identify if they had committed such violations.

The fact that the administration of Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences (ASSMS) misrepresented about the foreign faculty members’ status at the school shows that the supervisory bodies were in deep slumber all these years. The financial scam in the ASSMS is a clear-cut case of fraud. Moreover, the government, while taking necessary action in the light of findings of the internal investigation must direct the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate if the bank officials were also involved in the scam.

The task before the NAB is not a difficult one. The internal inquiry has documented the whole scam in detail. The report assumes that the fraud could not have taken place without the consent of some of the higher-ups’ involvement. It names the then director-general, Dr Allah Ditta Raza Choudary and director finance and administration, Ejaz Malik.

While the NAB will investigate the matter, what this scam tells us is that even the most premium academic institutions of the country are not free from the menaces of fraud, corruption and mismanagement. Above all, recent scandals that have rocked the higher education institutions in recent times also put a question mark on the efficacy of the HEC. All these scandals necessitate HEC needs to rethink its strategy of managing the higher education system.